Improving Training by Improving Relationships

The effectiveness of therapists may in part depend on the relationship they had with their supervisor when they were in training, according to a chapter written by Professor Rachel Crook-Lyon, a professor in the Counseling Psychology and Special Education Department, and Kirti Potkar, a third-year doctoral student in the counseling psychology program. The chapter will be published in the textbook Counselor Supervision: Principles, Processes, and Practice, which is used primarily in counselor education programs preparing students to teach and supervise counselors at the master’s level. Crook-Lyon and Potkar’s chapter, titled “The Supervisory Relationship,” discusses the factors that contribute to developing and maintaining the relationship between a supervisor and a novice therapist.

As the trainer, a supervisor is a novice therapist’s primary model for counseling. “The relationship between supervisor and student is critical because training is best when the student feels comfortable,” explained Crook-Lyon, who teaches a supervisory class in the McKay School. If, for example, the student does not feel comfortable asking the supervisor questions, learning will not be as effective.

In their chapter Crook-Lyon and Potkar explore three factors that contribute to the supervisory relationship. First, they examine the contributions a supervisor makes in the relationship: for example, the style of supervision (interpersonal, sensitive, or task-oriented) and disclosure about their own clinical work and concerns about the supervisee. Second, Crook-Lyon and Potkar examine what supervisees contribute to the relationship: for example, how anxious they are and how much they disclose about their work and concerns. Third, the authors look at other factors that might impact the relationship, such as race/ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

Crook-Lyon and Potkar hope this chapter motivates counseling supervisors to be more aware of issues that impact their relationships with their supervisees. The more they are aware of their contributions to the relationship, the more problems they can solve within the relationship and the more effective they can be as trainers.

“The Supervisory Relationship” will be published in the fourth edition of Counselor Supervision: Principles, Processes, and Practice in 2010. “Emergent Supervisors Training,” an article by Crook-Lyon on the training and preparation of supervisors, will be published in an upcoming issue of Journal of College Counseling.

29 March 2010