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3 Stages of
Supervisor & Supervisee Development
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, PhD
Executive Director:, Counselor Education and Training
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox & Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

CEUs are available at

~ Review the stages of supervisor and supervisee development
~ Forming
~ Storming
~ Norming
Supervisor and Supervisee Development
The supervisor provides:
~ Nonjudgmental support
~ Uses a counseling, therapeutic approach addressing feelings thoughts and actions that may impede the supervisees professional performance
~ Is consultative with self-evaluation an exploration
~ Employs self supervision
Structures Underlying Development
~ Autonomy
~ Self and other awareness
~ Motivation
~ Phase 1: Childhood: supervisor creates a safe place for supervisee to explore new techniques
~ Phase 2: Adolescence: alternating between exploration into new areas and retreating to the safety of home
~ Phase 3: Adulthood: mutual interdependence between supervisor and supervisee built on the foundation of basic universal values such as faith, hope, love, peace and respect
Developmental Stages
~ Counselor Level 1 “Forming”
~ Characterized by: high dependence on others, lack of self and other awareness, categorical thinking, high motivation and commitment to work
~ Plagued by feelings of anxiety and driven by the desire to do it right
~ And formulate clinical concepts on the basis of a single aspect of the client history
~ Practice by formulas such as “All clients in early recovery are __________”
Developmental Stages
~ Do not know how to formulate treatment plans
~ Cannot visualize and articulate therapeutic process from intake through intervention to termination
~ The supervisor environment is one that encourages autonomy of providing instruction support and modeling within a structured setting
~ The primary responsibility of supervisors for level 1 counselors is to protect client needs at all times while encouraging risk-taking by the counselor
~ To facilitate growth a supervisor should introduce the counselor to ambiguity and conflict
~ It is imperative that supervisors working with level 1 counselors take into account the supervisees learning style

Developmental Stages
~ Counselor Level 2 “Storming”
~ Realizing that cannot save the world, level two counselors become frustrated by their inability to solve difficult problems
~ Characterized by: Vacillating between autonomy and dependence, more self-aware of self and others, and consistently motivated
~ Although level 2 counselors have more skills and tools, they often do not know which tools to use with which client or why
~ Often vacillates between rejecting advice and assistance to desperately wanting to be comforted and protected
~ Level 2 counselors can empathize excessively with the client
~ Level 2 counselors progress in a cyclical rather than linear fashion regressing at times to earlier developmental issues

Developmental Stages
~ Counselor Level 3 “Norming”
~ Involves establishing one's own therapy model and normalizing that approach in a range of clinical situations
~ Characterized by: secure autonomy, awareness and acceptance of self and others, stable motivation
Developmental Stages
~ Supervisors: Level 1 “Forming”
~ Displays a mechanistic approach
~ Place a strong expert role
~ Depends on own supervisor
~ Is moderately to highly structured
~ Is invested in trainees adopting their own model
~ Has trouble with level 2 counselors
Developmental Stages
~ Supervisors: Level 2 “Storming”
~ Displays confusion, conflict issues
~ Sees supervision and counseling as more complex, multidimensional
~ Focuses on supervisee (instead of client)
~ Loses objectivity (lack of self/supervisee differentiation)
~ Blames supervisee for supervisor’s problems (boundaries)
~ Has fluctuating motivation (not yet embraced the benefits)
Developmental Stages
~ Supervisors: Level 3 “Norming”
~ Functions autonomously
~ Displays self and supervisee awareness
~ Differentiates boundaries and roles
~ Able to supervise at all times
~ Prefers to work with a certain level of counselor
~ It is our duty to ensure counselors remaining in the field are competent with regard to
~ Personal characteristics
~ Philosophical foundations
~ Communication abilities
~ Counseling skills
~ Administrative skills
~ Ethical behaviors
For each of the above, identify 3 competencies in each area, how you would assess them and ways you can help supervisees enhance them.

~ Forming is akin to the developmental stage of a young child
~ Skills development
~ High dependence on supervisor
~ Rigidity/concreteness in application
~ Storming is akin to the teenage years
~ Finding their individuality as a clinician/supervisor
~ Vacillates between independence and dependence
~ Can easily get overwhelmed—Difficulty with boundaries
~ Norming
~ Has found their identity as a therapist/supervisor
~ More flexible
~ Better able to take multiple perspectives
~ More effective at balancing multiple demands of the client/counselor/agency