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The role of predoctoral intern supervision in transitions to postgraduate developmental stages: A qualitative study

25 July 1997


Supervision of predoctoral interns is understood to be a significant experience in the training of psychologists, yet remains a relatively young field of inquiry. The awareness of distinct, multiple postgraduate developmental stages is an even younger field, only recently elaborated by T. M. Skovholt and M. H. Ronnestad (1992a) Even less is known regarding transitions between developmental stages, particularly transitions from internship-level stages to postgraduate stages. This dissertation study focuses on the role of predoctoral internship supervision in transitions to postgraduate developmental stages. Utilizing a qualitative research design, 3 male and 3 female psychologists were interviewed, all of whom had been licensed for at least 5 years, but not longer than 10 years. Semistandardized interviews (B. L. Berg, 1995; S. Kvale, 1983) were transcribed and analyzed utilizing grounded theory (A. Strauss & J. Corbin, 1990). Analysis yielded 323 total meaning units, which were initially assigned to 50 conceptual categories. Recursive analysis eventually identified 33 conceptual categories relevant to the research focus; these sorted into 7 higher level categories and finally into the 2 superordinate categories of Supervision Dynamics and Indicators of Developmental Progress. Results of the study identify aspects of predoctoral supervision relationships that impact interns, and enhance current understandings of developmental models of professional psychologists. In particular, the study addresses the role of supervisor interpersonal qualities in establishing a necessary environment for trainee growth; the impact of non-confirming supervisory experiences on the trainee's developmental course; and the apparent need for more intentional communication to interns regarding common developmental stages and challenges in professional psychology.


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