Mapping expert supervisors' cognitions

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Gülsah Kemer (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
L. DiAnne Borders

Abstract: Since the essential role of counseling supervision for counselor growth and effectiveness was emphasized in several seminal articles in the 1980s (Blocher, 1983; Loganbill, Hardy, & Delworth, 1982), many researchers have investigated the complex factors involved in effective counseling supervision. However, within this large body of work, very few researchers have sought to describe the master, or expert, supervisor. When researchers have studied supervisors, typically participants were supervisors under training and relatively inexperienced supervisors (Borders & Fong, 1994; Luke, Ellis, & Bernard, 2011). Very few researchers have studied more experienced supervisors (Nelson, Barnes, Evans, & Triggiano, 2008). Although these studies were informative, none were focused on expert supervisors. Thus, an investigation of expert supervisors is considered to be crucial for furthering our understanding of effective counseling supervision practices as well as improving supervisor training efforts. Hence, the specific focus of this study was to explore expert supervisors' cognitions and cognitive structures through a mixed-method approach called concept mapping. Data were obtained through three rounds of data collection. In the first round, participants generated statements through an open-ended internet survey. In the second round, the researcher mailed out the edited and synthesized statements to participants for the sorting and rating tasks. In the third round, an online focus group session was conducted with a subgroup of participants. A total of 18 expert supervisors completed at least one round of data collection procedure. Expert supervisors generated 479 statements, or cognitions/thoughts, regarding their thinking while they were planning for, conducting, and evaluating their supervision sessions. These statements were edited and synthesized into a final set of 195. Analyses and the focus group session resulted in summarizing these statements into 25 clusters or cognitive categories/domains. These cognitive categories/domains indicated that expert supervisors' thinking involved many different supervision components. Supervision Models, such as the Discrimination Model (Bernard & Goodyear, 2009), Developmental Models (Stoltenberg, 1981; Loganbill et al., 1982), and the Systems Approach to Supervision Model (Holloway, 1995), were represented in the results of the present study. However, the representation of these models was at the statement level and none of the cognitive categories/domains were named after these models. Furthermore, five separate but related regions appeared on the cluster map based on the conceptual similarities of these cognitive categories/domains. These regions were Assessment of the Supervisee and His/Her Work, Supervisory Relationship, Supervisor Self-Assessment and Reflection, Conceptualization of Supervision and Intervening, and Administration Considerations. Lastly, expert supervisors appeared to be giving more importance or higher priority to almost all of the cognitive categories while they were working with challenging supervisees when compared to easy supervisees. Expert supervisors' ratings also indicated that "Supervisee Development," "The Client and the Counseling Session," and "Supervisor's Goal Setting/Agenda Setting" clusters were in the higher importance/priority list for both easy and challenging supervisees. The findings of the present study provide direction for future research and useful implications for supervisors and supervisor training programs.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Counseling supervision, Counseling supervisor, Expert supervisor
Counselors $x Supervision of

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