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Current issues in psychotherapy supervision

13 April 1990


This paper identifies key issues in the research literature on clinical supervision which demand attention in order for the field of clinical supervision to develop adequately. The four purposes of this dissertation are to describe what constitutes effective supervision, to explore ethical issues in the process of supervision, to determine what is being done to train students to become supervisors and to integrate this information and make recommendations.To determine what constitutes effective supervision this paper reviews supervision historically, exploring prominent models of supervision, reporting on promising measures to rate supervision effectiveness, examining the affective process as well as conflict resolution, and describing the characteristics of effective supervision by exploring the structure of the process, communication within the process, and the supervisory relationship itself. While the need for evaluating supervision effectiveness is great, the research literature is incomplete and unfocused. The results show that supervision should be highly active, providing large amounts of observation, feedback and instruction. Supervisors should be patient, flexible, trustworthy, expert and possess a wide range of interpersonal skills. Supervisors should provide support and evaluation and should be experienced as both therapists and supervisors. Reasons to examine ethical issues include the importance of the supervisory relationship, the inequality of the supervisory relationship, the therapeutic aspects of supervision and the
lack of understanding of ethical standards. Five areas of ethical attention are explored. They are competency, dual relationships, respect for supervisee, training for ethical supervision and exploring personal issues in supervision. This paper documents the lack of research, the lack of specificity regarding ethical standards for the supervision process and the lack of adequate protection for supervisees. Three surveys are reported on to determine what is being done to train students in becoming supervisors. Even though Division 29 of the American Psychological Association has strongly recommended that students have practica or course work on supervision and the American Psychological
Association ethical standards state that psychologists who supervise must be competent to do so, only one third of the survey respondents report any training to supervise. While only one third receive training to supervise, over 50 percent end up supervising others in their first job and 87 percent of the respondents said they desired more training.


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