It has been my very good fortune to have been su-
pervised by several good supervisors.
were quite different from each other in personality and
their supervision style, focus, and goals.
One insisted that
the person of the counselor is of greatest importance, and
then struggled with me to discover who that person was
for me and how to use it in my relationships with clients.
Another focused on more concrete behaviors and cogni-
tions, forcing me to learn how to articulate what I was
doing and why.
A third introduced me to a new theoreti-
cal perspective on counseling, broadening my
conceptualizations of clients and my interactions with
With each, I felt tremendous challenge to stretch
and grow, buffered by an implied belief that I could
achieve their goals for me.
Each seemed to have been
assigned to me at just the right time in my professional
development, and/or they recognized my needs at that
time and were able to provide what I needed.
ence of each of these supervisors can been seen in my
counseling and supervision work today.
Only one of these
supervisors had received any supervision training.
Like other counselors, I also have had less memorable
supervision, and have heard numerous colleagues’ and
students’ horror stories about their unpleasant experi-
ences as supervisees.
Some describe busy supervisors or
those who lacked interest in their supervisees and the
Some cite supervisors who seemed
most interested in putting in the minimum required time
with as little work and as few hassles as possible.
remember mismatches in theoretical orientation to coun-
seling or critical personality traits.
All of these experiences, and my own professional
work in the area, have convinced me that
supervisors are born, but
benefit from training experi-
ences in which they focus on supervision knowledge and
skills,reflect on their role and responsibilities, and receive
input from others about their work as supervisors.
experiences also have led me to ask questions about what
distinguishes “good” supervisors from “bad” supervisors
and how counselors become effective supervisors.
Thus far, there are too few answers to my questions.
The supervisor by far has received the least attention of
any variable in the supervision enterprise.
To date, only
a few researchers have focused on supervisor qualities
and skills, and only three very brief models of supervisor
development have been proposed.
What we do know is
summarized below, drawing from reviews by
Worthington (1987), Carifio and Hess (1987), Dye and
Borders (1990), Borders et al. (1991), and Borders (in press).
Characteristics of Supervisors