Supervisee Resistance - April 1994 ERIC Digest EDO-CG-94-12...

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April 1994 EDO-CG-94-12 Supervisee Resistance Implicit in the definition of supervision is an ongo- ing relationship between supervisor and supervisee; the supervisee’s acquisition of professional role identity; and, the supervisor’s evaluation of the supervisee’s perfor- mance (Bernard & Goodyear, 1992; Bradley, 1989). Although the goal of helping the supervisee develop into an effective counselor may appear simple, it can be ananxiety-provoking experience. Supervision-induced anxiety causes supervisees to respond in a variety of ways, with some of the responses being defensive. It is these defensive behaviors, which serve the purpose of reduc- ing anxiety, that are referred to as resistance. Although the purpose of this Digest is to describe supervisee resistance and identify ways to counteract it, we want to stress that supervisee resistance is common. While resistance can be disruptive and annoying, the supervisor must keep in mind that resistance is not syn- onymous with “bad person” or “bad behavior.” Instead, resistance occurs because of the dynamics of the supervi- sion process and, in fact, can be an appropriate response to supervision (e.g., supervisor conducting therapy instead of supervision). In other instances, resistance is a response to anxiety whereby it becomes the supervisor’s role to deal with anxiety so that the need for resistance will be reduced or perhaps eliminated. Resistant Behaviors Purposes/Goals Supervisee resistance, consisting of verbal and non- verbal behaviors, is the supervisee’s overt response to changes in the supervision process. Liddle (1986) con- cluded that the primary goal of resistant behavior is self-protection in which the supervisee guards against some perceived threat. One common threat is fear of inadequacy; although supervisees want to succeed, there is a prevalent concern of not “measuring up” to the supervisor’s standards. Other supervisee resistance occurs because supervision is required. Supervisees may not accept the legitimacy of supervision because they perceive their skills to be equal, if not superior, to their supervisor’s. Supervisee resistance may be a reaction to loss of control and can evolve into a power struggle between supervisor and supervisee. Supervisees may fear and be threatened by change, and consequently, respond with defensive behaviors. The fact that supervision has an evaluative component can provoke anxiety because a negative evaluation by a supervisor may result in dis- missal and/or failure to receive necessary recommenda- tions. Supervisee resistance also may result from the supervisor failing to integrate multicultural information
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Supervisee Resistance - April 1994 ERIC Digest EDO-CG-94-12...

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