Exploration of the supervisory experiences of school counseling supervisors and the perspectives on school counseling supervisory system construction

Shu Hua Lin, Hsiu Lan Shelley Tien, Hung Wen Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to explore the supervisory experiences of school counseling supervisors and the perspectives of the construction of a school counseling supervisory system. This study aimed to understand the supervisory experiences of school counseling supervisors and how said experiences developed. The construction of a school counseling supervisory system involved the requirements of qualified supervisors, training courses for cultivating supervisors, and the present situation of supervision, which was organized by the Supervision Agency. Ten school counseling supervisors participated in the study. Their average age was 49 years. They all had Ph.D. degrees in guidance and counseling psychology. Eight supervisors had teacher certifications, and 10 supervisors had counseling psychologist licenses. They were interviewed using semistructured in-depth interviews. After analyzing the transcripts by using the principle of grounded theory, this study found that supervisory experiences were a dynamic system circulating process. A professional map comprising supervisory beliefs and school counseling competencies guided supervisory dimensions, and reflections were generated from the practice of supervisory dimensions. After this step, the reflections provided feedback for the professional map. Through reintegrating the professional map, the same process was cycled again. The supervisory experiences were unfolded in the context of the school field; for example, if the supervisor had the knowledge that the role of a school counselor was to collaborate, he/she would set the goal of enhancing the ability of collaboration. From the practice of the supervisory process, the supervisor might be aware that the comprehension of the school counseling specialty would affect the supervisory process. By rearranging personal knowledge on school counseling, supervisors prepared themselves to supervise school counselors. The supervisory experience consisted of the professional map, supervisory dimensions, and supervisory reflections. The definitions are as follows: (1) The professional map included supervisory beliefs and school counseling competencies. Supervisory beliefs reflected the sense of mission and identification with the school counseling specialty. School counseling competencies highlighted the importance of the ecological system perspective. (2) The supervisory dimensions involved supervision goals, supervision functions, the supervisory relationship, the supervisory process, and supervision methods. In addition to intervention, conceptualization, and personalization, supervision goals placed greater emphasis on strengthening the collaboration ability, advocacy, self-confidence, and efficacy. Supervision functions included evaluating, modeling, instructing, consulting, supporting, and backing. The backing function refers to the supervisor entering the school counselor’s school when required, rescheduling the role of professional personnel, and communicating resource integration. The supervisory relationship stressed involving, nurturing the learning process, and attending to individual differences. The supervisory process took the form of group supervision and could make good use of group dynamics. The strategies included experiential, cognitive, and micro strategies. (3) The supervisory reflections were divided into self-awareness and self-expectation. This reminded supervisors that it was necessary to review personal professional knowledge and positions, avoid judging the school counseling specialty according to the mainstream value of counseling psychology, and think about how to relate the supervisory process with the value and accountability of school counseling. Perspectives on the supervisory system’s construction included the following: (1) The requirements of qualified supervisors meant that the supervisor would meet essential criteria, accomplish advanced standards, and acquire school counseling competencies. The fundamental criteria were having a working experience of more than 3 years, school work experience, and supervision experience. The advanced standards were experiencing continuous direct service with clients, supervising continuously, absorbing new knowledge, and maintaining self-awareness. The school counseling competencies comprised child and adolescent development, counseling, ecological collaboration, supervision, group work, school counseling, ethics, and law. (2) Training courses for cultivating supervisors were required to balance theory and practicum in accordance with the principles of the multilevel structure and practicability. Moreover, the supervisor and supervisee could learn from each other, and training courses could be implemented by the specific unit or cross-unit. (3) The improvement of the supervisory system should enhance the evaluation of personnel quality, loosen group supervision limits, and promote diversified operations. Overall, it should strengthen the evaluation mechanism and offer the supervisee more learning opportunities. According to research results, a supervision horizon figure of school system thinking was formed. It illustrated that the core spirit was the fulfillment of professional subjectivity. Supervisors took ecological system perspectives to understand the client being affected by systems and the environment. The systems affecting the client were family and school, followed by the community. Supervisors also understood school counselors working in the systems. School counselors engaged in helping practice in the hierarchy of the school system and were affected by the working systems, which were workplace, professional resources, and educational administration. Supervisors also had to be aware of situated systems. Because the student counseling center organized the supervision arrangement, the first system around the supervisor was the student counseling center. Furthermore, because of the backing function, the supervisor might enter the school counselor’s school or use administrative resources to help him or her. As a result, the systems that supervisors were involved with also included the school counselor’s workplace and the outer network system. The client, supervisee, and supervisor all shared the same macrosystem, involving politics, law, culture, religion, customs, and economics. When the supervisor understood the aforementioned phenomenon, he or she could employ five types of systematic thinking to supervise the school counselor: (1) being familiar with resources, policies, and laws; (2) making relationships actively and building trust; (3) making use of perspective-taking to consider the overall situation; (4) putting down parochialism to head for mutualism; and (5) assessing and inventorying resources to start the change. Based on the results, this study suggested that the supervisor should organize personal school counseling beliefs and competencies. Simultaneously, the supervisor can develop professional identification. How the supervisor identifies with school counseling would convey and affect the school counselor’s identification. The research results revealed that the supervisor who had served as the school counselor exhibited the thinking feature of leading resource integration. They paid attention to the process of system collaboration as an insider in the system instead of engaging in the collaborative relationship passively. In Chinese culture, if we must collaborate with others efficiently, we should put down parochialism and put others first. Therefore, it would be better for the supervisor to hold the perspective of the ecological system. When the supervisor used the school counseling supervision model, the ecological uniqueness of the school might have been considered. The supervisor not only explored the client’s inner dynamic but also comprehended the client’s situation from a contextual view. In addition to forming comprehensive supervision goals, enhancing collaboration, advocacy, self-confidence, and efficacy abilities was taken into consideration in particular. It was crucial for the supervisor to fulfill functions fully, especially the backing function. The supervisors’ coordination with each other through collaboration and introducing higherlevel administrative resources could help school counselors resolve challenges. Regarding the construction of the integrated school counseling supervision system, it can be divided into three parts. First, in the personnel part, competencies and requirements should be strengthened. Basically, fundamental criteria have existed until now, and the advanced standards might be considered when applying for continuous education and reinstating credentials. School counseling competencies are worthy of future research. Second, regarding training courses, the supervisor, supervisee, and training unit could work together to plan ideal training courses. The supervisor and supervisee could establish a strong learning relationship. Furthermore, the supervisor can understand the practical work experience of school counselors more. The professional association and student counseling center offered training courses. Finally, regarding the applied model, supervisors needed the right of evaluation. Participation in the supervision of school counselors was listed as accountability and evaluation. In addition to group supervision, multiple learning choices and more opportunities were delivered to supervisees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-336
Number of pages26
JournalBulletin of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • School counseling
  • Supervisor
  • Supervisory experience
  • Supervisory system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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