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Thursday, July 27, 2023

Supervisees’ Perspectives of Inadequate, Harmful, and Exceptional Clinical Supervision: Are We Listening?

Hutman, H., Ellis, M. V., et al (2023).
The Counseling Psychologist, 001100002311725.


Supervisees’ experiences in supervision vary remarkably. To capture such variability, Ellis and colleagues offered a framework for understanding and assessing inadequate, harmful, and exceptional supervision. Although their framework was supported, it did not offer a nuanced understanding of these supervision experiences. Using consensual qualitative research–modified, this study sought to obtain a rich description of inadequate, harmful, and exceptional supervision. Participants (N = 135) were presented with definitions and provided responses (n = 156) to open-ended questions describing their inadequate (n = 63), harmful (n = 30), and/or exceptional (n = 63) supervision experiences. Supervisees reporting harmful experiences described supervisors as neglectful and callous, whereas inadequate supervision reflected inappropriate feedback, unavailability, and unresponsiveness. Conversely, exceptional supervision involved safety, clinical paradigm shifts, and modeling specific techniques or theories. Implications for supervision research, theory, and practice are discussed.

 Significance of the Scholarship to the Public

We identified themes from trainees’ descriptions of their inadequate, harmful, and exceptional experiences in clinical supervision. The findings offer a nuanced understanding of supervisees’ lived experiences,
illustrating how clinical supervisors went awry or went above and beyond, and suggesting strategies for promoting exceptional supervision and preventing harmful and inadequate supervision.

Here is a summary

Background: Clinical supervision is a critical component of professional development for mental health professionals. However, not all supervision is created equal. Some supervision can be inadequate, harmful, or exceptional.

Research question: The authors of this article investigated supervisees' perspectives of inadequate, harmful, and exceptional clinical supervision.

Methods: The authors conducted a qualitative study with 135 supervisees. They asked supervisees to describe their experiences of inadequate, harmful, and exceptional supervision.

Results: The authors found that supervisees' experiences of inadequate, harmful, and exceptional supervision varied widely. However, there were some common themes that emerged. For example, supervisees who experienced inadequate supervision often felt unsupported, neglected, and judged. Supervisees who experienced harmful supervision often felt traumatized, humiliated, and disempowered. Supervisees who experienced exceptional supervision often felt supported, challenged, and empowered.

Conclusions: The authors concluded that supervisees' experiences of clinical supervision can have a profound impact on their professional development. They suggest that we need to listen to supervisees' experiences of supervision and to take steps to ensure that all supervisees receive high-quality supervision.