Peer Consultation as a Form of Supervision
James M. Benshoff
The importance of extensive, high-quality counsel-
ing supervision has become increasingly recognized as
critical to learning, maintaining, and improving profes-
sional counseling skills (Bernard & Goodyear, 1992).
for many professional counselors, the availability of regu-
lar counseling supervision by a qualified supervisor is
very limited or frequently nonexistent.
who receive ongoing supervision of their counseling prac-
tice may not have the type, frequency, or quality of
supervision they desire.
Peer supervision/ consultation
(Benshoff, 1992; Remley, Benshoff, & Mowbray, 1987) has
been proposed as a potentially effective approach to
increasing the frequency and/or quality of supervision
available to a counselor.
Peer Consultation Defined
Arrangements in which peers work together for
mutual benefit are referred to as peer supervision or peer
, however, may be the more
appropriate term to describe a process in which critical
and supportive feedback is emphasized while evaluation
Consultation, in contrast to supervi-
sion, is characterized by the counselor’s “right to accept
or reject the suggestions [of others]” (Bernard & Goodyear,
1992, p. 103).
Yet, the terms “peer supervision” and “peer
consultation” both can be used to describe similar
nonhierarchical relationships in which participants have
neither the power nor the purpose to evaluate one
The basic premise underlying peer consultation is that
individuals who have been trained in basic helping skills
can use these same skills to help each other function more
effectively in their professional (or paraprofessional) roles.
Peer consultation experiences can offer a number of ben-
efits to counselors (see Benshoff & Paisley, 1993),
Decreased dependency on “expert” supervisors and
greater interdependence of colleagues;
ncreased responsibility of counselors for assessing
their own skills and those of their peers, and for struc-
turing their own professional growth;
Increased self-confidence, self-direction, and indepen-
Development of consultation and supervision skills;
Use of peers as models;
Ability to choose the peer consultant; and,
Lack of evaluation.