Novice school guidance counselors at elementary and junior high schools: Investigation of individual supervision using the self-awareness supervision model

Chao Mei Chiang, Ying Yi Su, Miau Ching Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Taiwanese government enacted the Student Guidance and Counseling Act (SGCA) in 2014, which has been essential to protecting students’ right to receive guidance and counseling services and structuring guidance and counseling services in school settings. Additionally, the SGCA mandates that schools from elementary to postsecondary levels employ guidance counselors to fulfill guidance and counseling services. The SGCA also regulated the number of hired guidance counselors based on the number of classes or students. Preservice training for guidance counselors in Taiwan includes teacher education programs and guidance and counseling training, which consist of one- to two-semester counseling practicums. After preservice training, the trainee guidance counselor must undertake a half-year-long education internship before taking the teacher qualification examination. However, this education internship, which is crucial to equipping guidance counselors with professional competency, does not consist of a counseling internship. Therefore, guidance counselor interns often must seek opportunities to provide counseling sessions for students to maintain professional sensitivity, which are not included in the half-year internship program. Moreover, the supervision of these interns is usually irregular. Thus, the half-year internship is a professional development stage that requires addressing. For in-service training, guidance counselors receive group supervision once per month during the semester. However, a lack of individual supervision for guidance counselors’ professional development exists. Existing Taiwanese research indicates that novice elementary and junior high school guidance counselors encounter work stress, work role conflict, and the challenge of shaping a professional identity and meeting professional growth needs. Other research has demonstrated that in-service training and supervision do not meet novice guidance counselors’ needs for professional growth. In addition, novice guidance counselors require professional discussions and anchoring of their roles within schools. Specifically, their needs for professional development include competency in working with clients and systematic collaboration. Given that a lack of resources exists for individual supervision, this research addressed guidance counselors’ needs for professional development by providing individual supervision. Self-awareness is considered one of the core competencies of counseling professionals and is a focus of professional training and counseling supervision (American Counseling Association, 2014; Dowden et al., 2014; Hansen, 2009; Pieterse et al., 2013). Thus, the individual supervision provided in this study involved using the Self-awareness Supervision Model (SASM) developed by Taiwanese scholar Dr. Chin-Yen Chen (Chen, 2003). The SASM aims to enhance supervisees’ self-awareness in counseling sessions and facilitate their role as counselors to enhance counseling effectiveness. Examples of research questions are as follows: What are guidance counselors’ professional development needs? What processes are involved in SASM supervision? What are the general experiences of receiving SASM individual supervision? How did the SASM supervisor respond as perceived by the guidance counselors? This research investigated the experiences of intern guidance counselors and junior guidance counselors receiving SASMbased individual supervision. The study employed a qualitative research paradigm and phenomenology in its research approach. After ethics approval was received, recruitment information was sent using professional networks and word of mouth. Ten novice school guidance practitioners were recruited, including three intern guidance counselors, three guidance counselors working in elementary schools, and four guidance counselors working in junior high schools. Research participants read the article (Chen, 2003) written by the scholar who developed the SASM before receiving three sessions of SASM-based individual supervision. The SASM supervisor for the research was a guidance counselor working at a senior high school with over 15 years of experience, over 10 years of SASM supervisory experience, and a doctorate in counseling. Each participant participated in four research interviews, which the researcher conducted. The first interview occurred after informed consent was obtained. The second interview occurred after the first SASM supervision session. The third interview occurred after the third SASM supervision session. The fourth interview was conducted 2 months after the three SASM supervision sessions to follow up on the influence of the SASM on the participants’ practices. The research data underwent thematic analysis. The research results were presented using the following four sections: Current needs for professional development, SASM supervision process, overall supervision experience based on the SASM, and perceived supervisor responses based on the SASM. Regarding professional development needs, the participants reported that they should develop professional confidence and anchor their role as the guidance counselor in their school at the novice stage. Regarding the SASM supervision process, the participants mentioned that preparation for SASM supervision helped them ready themselves for conversation, experience supervisee-centered supervision, and clearly perceive the supervision structure in the SASM. Regarding the overall experience of the SASM, most participants expressed that they felt validated and had brainstormed during supervision. In addition, participants reported that they felt supported and listened to, were aware of emotions, could reflect on current and previous situations, and had sufficient space to say what they wanted to say during SASM supervision. Finally, regarding the perceived responses of SASM supervisors, the participants reported that they felt supervisor providing listening, clarification, questioning, feedback and reflection. According to the research findings, novice guidance counselors must discuss explicitly anchoring their professional role in school settings because guidance counselors are not assigned to teach, unlike their colleagues. Additionally, novice guidance counselors must gradually ensure their effectiveness to develop professional confidence. These findings echo Stoltenberg’s professional development stages for novice practitioners, which primarily focus on professional identities (Stoltenberg & McNeill, 2010). Similarly to the School Counseling Supervision Model (SCSM) developed by Luke and Bernard (2006), the study’s findings emphasize the importance of the local contexts of school settings in Taiwan. However, different from the SCSM, which focuses on the context and dimensions of supervision, the results indicate that SASM focuses on supervisees and their awareness of the counseling process, interaction with clients, and professional and personal growth. The results demonstrated that unlike in other supervision models, novice counselors mainly mentioned their concerns regarding personal growth and professional development during SASM individual supervision, which echoes the supervision focus on personalization in the discrimination model (Bernard, 1979). Additionally, the findings indicate that participants exhibited awareness of their emotions, which is consistent with the learning task for emotional awareness in the system approach to supervision (Holloway, 2016). As indicated by Stoltenberg and McNeill՚s (2010) development stages, novice practitioners usually require a clear structure while they develop autonomy. According to the results, novice school guidance practitioners continue to require information or guidance from a supervisor. It would be beneficial to novice practitioners’ professional development if their supervisors consider what supervisees already know as a basis for their interactions with supervisees. In order words, supervisors could employ what the novice supervisees know as scaffolding when conducting SASM supervision. Consideration of supervisees’ knowledge as a foundation for discussion might allow the needs of novice practitioners and their expectations of supervision to be met more effectively. The findings indicated that SASM focuses on novice supervisees’ supervisory expectations. Moreover, the SASM supervisor uses self-awareness to aid supervisees in shaping their professional identities. Because the SASM is superviseecentered, supervisory conversation and discussion focus on supervisees’ self-awareness, which is dependent on the supervisory relationship. Furthermore, according to the results, the SASM provides supervisees with space to organize their thoughts about counseling sessions, clients, and professional development. These discussions also facilitate reflection on their theoretical orientation and shape their professional identities. This research was an exploratory study. Future research should compare the SASM supervisory experience of guidance counselors working at elementary and junior high schools. Furthermore, administration supervision and systematic collaboration were not addressed and could be a focus for future research. Regarding the implications of this research for supervisory practices, individual supervision is more beneficial to novice practitioners than is group supervision because it addresses novice supervisees’ individual needs for professional development. Participants unexpectedly expressed willingness to continue SASMbased individual supervision with the supervisor, which demonstrates that the method used in this research met the supervision and professional growth needs of the novice school guidance practitioners. This and future supervision research can contribute to the quality of counseling practice that protects clients’ welfare and wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-662
Number of pages26
JournalBulletin of Educational Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Mar


  • Individual supervision
  • Intern guidance counselors
  • Novice guidance counselors
  • Self-awareness Supervision Model
  • Supervision experiences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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