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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Supervisor Self-Disclosure

*Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training* has scheduled an article for publication in a future issue: "Supervisor Self-Disclosure: Supervisees' Experiences and Perspectives."

The authors are Sarah Knox, Lisa M. Edwards, Shirley A. Hess, and Clara E. Hill.  Here's how the article begins:

[begin excerpt]

Farber (2006) suggested that, in addition to the inherent need for supervisee self-disclosure, supervisor self-disclosure (SRSD) is also crucial to supervision.

He asserted that supervisors disclose to build the supervision relationship, share discoveries from their own professional experiences, model skills, and provide feedback.

Given the role that SRSD may have in supervision, it is important to examine its impact on supervisees and on supervision.

Existing studies, primarily using quantitative survey methods, have described types and outcomes of SRSDs (Bahrick, 1990; Gray, Ladany, Walker, & Ancis, 2001; Hess et al., 2008; Ladany, Hill, Corbett, & Nutt, 1996; Ladany & Lehrman-Waterman, 1999; Ladany & Melincoff, 1999; Ladany & Walker, 2003; Ladany, Walker, & Melincoff, 2001; Norcross & Halgin, 1997; Walsh, Gillespie, Greer, & Eanes, 2002; Worthen & McNeill, 1996; Yourman, 2003). In the only qualitative study in this area, Knox, Burkard, Edwards, Smith, and Schlosser (2008) examined supervisors' perspectives about using SRSD with supervisees. Supervisors used SRSDs when supervisees struggled, and intended them to teach or normalize. Supervisors' disclosures focused on supervisors' reactions to their own or their supervisees' clients. These SRSDs had positive effects on supervisors, supervisees, the supervision relationship, and supervisors' supervision of others.

These results suggest that the supervisors were attuned to their supervisees' clinical needs and sought to intervene such that supervisees could function more effectively, all of which led to salutary results. Although Knox et al.'s results are intriguing, we wonder if supervisees feel the same way about SRSDs . . . do such disclosures have the salutary effects that supervisors perceived? Relatedly, the literature is replete with examples of supervisees' negative feelings about their supervisors, and also the belief that they must hide such feelings for fear of political suicide (Gray et al., 2001; Hess et al., 2008; Nelson & Friedlander, 2001). Learning about supervisees' reactions could thus help us understand the other side of the SRSD interaction. We need, then, a probing examination of supervisees' experiences of SRSD, so that we may "get inside" the phenomenon by asking those to whom it is directed how they experienced such disclosure.

A qualitative design could help us fill this gap in the literature by addressing the central question of the current study: How do supervisees experience SRSD? How does SRSD affect supervision and supervisees' clinical work? Examining such questions from the supervisee perspective is essential, and will add important new understandings to the extant literature. In the present study, then, we examined supervisees' experiences of SRSD, extending with a distinct sample the work by Knox et al. (2008) about supervisors' experiences of SRSD. We asked supervisees to describe in depth one particular instance of SRSD and its impact.

[end excerpt]

Another excerpt: "When describing a specific SRSD experience, supervisees reported a range of antecedents (e.g., difficult clinical situation, selfdoubt, tension in supervision relationship) followed by supervisor disclosures about clinical experiences or personal information. Supervisees perceived that their supervisors disclosed primarily to normalize, but also to build rapport and to instruct. The SRSDs had mostly positive effects (e.g., normalization), though some negative effects (e.g., deleterious impact on supervision relationship) were reported."

The author note provides the following contact information: " Sarah Knox, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology, College of Education, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881. E-mail: sarah.knox@marquette.edu.

Thanks to Ken Pope for this information.
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