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The Filipino School Counselor as Practicum Supervisee:

Perceptions on Practicum Supervision in Counseling


Marissa S. Nicasio
The Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, Philippines
sang_nicasio@yahoo.com

Jose Alberto S. Reyes


De La Salle University, Philippines
jose.alberto.reyes@dlsu.edu.ph
Clinical supervision continues to be a challenge among counselor educators
and practicing school counselors in the Philippines. The present study aims to
identify the level of development of Filipino school counselors enrolled in
practicum training as a graduate student. It examined the perceptions of school
counselors of the clinical supervision they received during their practicum
training, particularly their perception of the supervisory style employed by
their site supervisors using the Supervisory Styles Inventory (SSI; Friedlander
& Ward, 1984). It also identified the ideal supervisory styles of school
counselors and how this relates with the dimensions of counselor development
as measured by the Supervisee Level Questionnaire Revised (McNeill et al.,
1992). Results revealed that counselor trainees who have undergone their
practicum training appear to be in the transition stage from Level 1 to Level 2
in terms of supervisee development (M=4.24-5.57, SD=.605-619).
The
results also suggest that these counselor trainees would have preferred to have
more Interpersonally Sensitive supervisors (M= 8.69, SD =. 76, t = -22.447,
df=25, *p<.05). Implications for practice and recommendations are discussed
to give depth and breadth to the results of this study.
Keywords: Clinical Supervision, School Counselors, Supervisory Styles,
Supervisee Level of Development

Clinical supervision theories have been extensively focused on the stages


a counselor goes through in the process of professional development (Bernard &
Goodyear, 2009; Stoltenberg, McNeill & Crethar, 1994; Wiley & Ray, 1986).
Bernard & Goodyear (2009) defines supervision as a process by which a more
experienced professional provides guidance to a novice entering the profession
by providing education to the trainee, and gate-keeping for the profession. This
Philippine Journal of Counseling Psychology (2013), Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 85-96.
Philippine Association for Counselor Education, Research, and Supervision (PACERS)
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process is employed by a wide range of professions including clinical


psychology, nursing, and school psychology (Dollarhide & Miller, 2006). The
aim of supervision is to guide the novice counselor to advance to a higher degree
of professional development and competence. A measure to determine the
supervisees level of development was developed by Mc Neill, Stoltenberg and
Roman (1992), also known as the Supervisee Levels Questionnaire-Revised,
which was aligned with the constructs of Stoltenbergs Integrated Developmental
Model (IDM). The IDM describes supervisee development as progressing
through stages from a beginner level moving towards expertise. The structures by
which changes are anchored are self-other awareness, motivation and autonomy.
Level I supervisees are seen as a paradox --highly focused on self, yet with
limited self-awareness; are both highly motivated and extremely anxious; and are
dependent on their supervisors. Level II supervisees are characterized by
instability as one moves toward greater ability to empathize with client amidst
confusion; motivation vacillates from high to low; and there is a struggle between
autonomy and dependency. Level III supervisees are seen as more stable and
personalized in their practice in all three structures. Accordingly, supervisees that
begin their practicum are presumed to be in the beginning level of development.
Still, the role and function of school counselors demands a wider scope
of supervision in the fields of assessment, consultation, individual and group
interventions, and a handful of administrative functions (Kaufman & Schwartz,
2003). Borders (2005) presented a comprehensive review of literature on
supervision among school counselors and concluded that clinical supervision for
school counseling is a challengethere is no clinical supervision and no
clinical supervisors on staff-in school systems. Interestingly, Matthes (1992)
described a novice counselor frequently functions, in isolation in an environment
where principals and teachers were the primary referent groups, and lacked clear
expectations, coaching, and intensive clinical supervision. Moreover, Matthes
(1992) goes on to illustrate that there are different kinds of supervision available
to school counselor, where clinical supervision is only one of the options, among
program development supervision and administrative supervision. Interestingly
Herlihy, et al. (2002) identified that school counselors receive inadequate
supervision because of limited availability of qualified supervisors; counselor
roles are often influenced by school stakeholders expectations; and possible
resistance from counselors who are not used to having their work, particularly
their counseling sessions, supervised. These were reiterated by Luke, Bernard
and Ellis (2011) when they discussed the underutilization of supervision in
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schools and added that there is a perception that supervision is aligned with
psychotherapy, which is irrelevant to school counseling practice. However, the
majority of research conducted in counseling supervision are in the United States
and in Europe with a relatively few in other countries, and with a limited number
in the field of school counseling (Borders, 2005; Peake, Nussbaum & Tindell,
2002; Ellis, et. al., 1996).
Although only a few studies on supervision had been conducted in the
Philippine setting, all the studies provide very important information about the
state of counseling supervision in the Philippines. The study of Pabiton (2000)
showed that practicing counselors of varying educational training levels (e.g.,
working on an MA, MA, PhD) did not differ in their preferences for supervision
focus and supervisory approach. This suggests that educational level does not
seem to influence the kind of supervision sought for by practicing counselor.
Reyes (2001) showed that most of the preferred supervisory functions,
techniques, goals, and roles that Filipino counselor trainees hoped to see during
their practicum/internship training were not exhibited by their site supervisors.
Thus, there is indication that counselor trainees are dissatisfied with the clinical
supervision they received during their practicum or internship. Reyes also
showed in his 2003 study that counselors who have not undergone any formal
supervision during their training rate themselves highly on the dimension of
Autonomy. In fact, their self-ratings of autonomy are quite similar to the selfratings given by those who have actually received formal clinical supervision.
This is also quite an interesting study as it shows the danger of the development
of false autonomy among counselors. The findings of Reyes (2003) was further
elaborated by Mateo and Salanga (2012) in a qualitative study that explored the
unique elements of this sense of autonomy developed even without supervision
that seems to be present in most Filipino practicing counselors.
One of the supervision models that have merged specific to school
counseling is the School Counseling Supervision Model which was largely based
on Bernards Discrimination Model (Luke, Ellis, & Bernard, 2011). The DM is
composed of a 3 by 3 matrix in the dimensions of supervisory focus and
supervisor roles. However, since it has been acknowledged that there is minimal
to no supervision available among school counselors, it will be practical to
initially focus on one of its dimension, which is supervisor roles. One of the
measures of supervisor roles may be addressed by supervisory styles as measured
by an instrument developed by Friedlander and Ward (1984). They defined
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supervisory style as a supervisors distinctive manner of approaching and


responding to trainees and of implementing supervision. Supervisors develop a
preferred style from among the three styles identified by research which
correspond to Bernard and Goodyears basic supervisor roles (Ladany, Walker,
& Melincoff, 2001). The supervisors may be described as one of the following:
attractive, interpersonally sensitive, or task-oriented. Attractive supervisors are
seen as friendly, warm, open and supportive. Interpersonally sensitive
supervisors are perceived to be therapeutic, perceptive and invested in the
supervision relationship. On the other hand, task-oriented supervisors are seen as
didactic, directive and goal-directed.
The present study aims to identify the level of development school
counselors are in, when they undergo practicum to establish if Stoltenbergs IDM
model fit the description of a counselor-trainee in the Philippines. The study
examines the perceptions of school counselors of their practicum experience,
particularly the supervisory style they were able to identify as they engaged with
their site supervisor(s). Lastly, it will also try to identify the ideal supervisory
styles of counselor trainees based on their practicum training in the masters
level. Comparison of these perceptions (i.e., actual versus ideal) will be relevant
to determine the preferred supervisory style among counselors, as well as provide
information on how supervision will be more meaningful for school counselors
in the Philippines.
Methods
Procedure
The targeted respondents for this study had to be counselors presently
employed as school counselors who had supervised practicum training as part of
the requirements for their graduate studies. Convenience sampling was obtained
through online recruitment and referrals, however, only a small number of
respondents were obtained. Participation was completely voluntary. Each survey
packet included a letter discussing the nature of the study, three sets of
questionnaires and a demographic information sheet. No additional contact was
made after survey packets were returned. From the sixty survey packets that were
distributed, only twenty seven responded with complete sets of questionnaires.

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Participants
The study was able to recruit twenty seven respondents, mostly from
Metro Manila. From the sample, about 41 percent have been working as a school
counselor for 4-10 years, and 22 percent have had 3 or less years of experience.
Consequently, 33 percent are within the 28-43 years old age bracket, and 30
percent were below 27 years old and below. Half of the respondents were female
and about failed to indicate their gender when they completed their questionnaire.
Likewise, the respondents identified 56 percent of the supervisors to be female
and 90 percent indicated that their supervisors are older than them.
Instruments
Supervisory Styles Inventory (SSI; Friedlander & Ward, 1984). The SSI
is a 33-item, self-report instrument that describes supervisees' perceptions of their
supervisors' styles. The instrument includes three subscales. The Attractive
subscale contains 7 items such as "friendly," "trusting," and "supportive." The
Interpersonally Sensitive subscale contains 8 items such as "intuitive,"
"invested," and "reflective." The Task-Oriented subscale contains 10 items such
as "structured," "goal-oriented," and "evaluative." The respondents were asked to
rate each item using a 7-point, Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not at all
characteristic) to 7 (very characteristic). Eight additional filler items are
included, resulting in a total of 33 items. The SSI has high internal consistency
estimates (Cronbachs alpha) ranging from .83 to .89. The instructions were
modified to describe the supervisors the respondents had when they had their
practicum and to describe the characteristics of what an ideal supervisor should
be for them.
Supervisee Level Questionnaire Revised (McNeill et al., 1992). The 30
item SLQ-R was used to assess self-rated supervisee Self-Other Awareness (12
items), Motivation (8 items), and Dependency-Autonomy (10 items). Participants
responded to items on 7-point Likert scale with 1 corresponding to never and 7
corresponding to always. Self-Other Awareness had a good consistency
(Cronbachs Alpha = .825) and included items such as: I feel genuinely relaxed
and comfortable in my counseling sessions. and I am able to empathize with
my clients feeling states but still help them focus on conflict resolution.
Motivation (Cronbachs Alpha = .699) had items such as the overall quality of
my work fluctuates; on some days I do well, on other days, I do poorly. and I
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think I know myself well and am able to integrate that into my therapeutic style.
The scale on Autonomy included items such as It is important that my
supervisor allow me to make my own mistakes. and Regarding my counseling,
I view my supervisor as my colleague. had a poor consistency (Cronbachs
Alpha = .559) which could be attributed to cultural differences in terms of the
concept of autonomy. There were several items that required reverse scoring.
Data Analysis
Descriptive measures of all variables were computed as well as reliability
analyses of the scales used. Within groups t-test was administered to find out if
there were significant differences in the actual and ideal supervisory styles
reported by the respondents.
Results
Descriptive data were computed for (mean, standard deviation) for
responses in the actual and ideal supervisory styles. A within groups t-test was
computed for to determine any significant differences in the perception of the
respondents in terms of supervisory styles.
Table 1 provides a picture of the developmental level of the Filipino
counselor trainee at the time of practicum training. In terms of Self-other
Awareness, the respondents provided above average ratings of themselves. This
suggests a recognition of their ability to be sensitive to individual differences
between themselves and their clients, and across clients. They however provided
average self-ratings for Autonomy and Motivation. This may suggest that they
still see a need for guidance from their supervisors (i.e., they still exhibit some
level of dependency) and also appear to be unstable in their commitment to
becoming a counselor. Although there is no baseline or standard to compare the
mean scores to determine supervisory development level, it appears that the
counselor respondents are within the transition stage of moving from Level 1 to
Level 2 using the IDM model. Level 2 is usually characterized by having
increased level of Self-other awareness but a slight lowering in the dimensions of
Motivation and Autonomy. This would be exemplified by counselor trainees who
begin to realize the importance of recognizing individual differences but at the
same time start questioning whether counseling is really for them (Motivation)
and whether they can already manage counseling their clients on their own
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(Autonomy).
Table 1
Supervisee developmental level

Developmental Level
Self-Other Awareness
Motivation
Autonomy

Mean

SD

5.57
4.24
4.61

.605
.608
.619

Table 2 shows that in all three supervisory styles, respondents had


higher rating for their ideal supervisor but the only significant difference
in actual versus ideal ratings was found in the Interpersonally Sensitive
supervisory style. Results showed that there is a preference for a
supervisor who would exhibit higher levels of interpersonal sensitivity.
Table 2
Mean and standard deviation of ideal and actual perceived supervisory styles
Attractive
Interpersonally Sensitive*
Task oriented
df=25, **p<.01

Ideal
6.16 (.72)
8.69 (.76)
5.66 (.69)

Actual
6.02 (.77)
5.06 (.58)
5.55 (.63)

t
-0.797
-22.447**
-0.665

sig
.4327
.000
.511

Discussion
The results presented an interesting picture of school counselors
who undergo supervised practicum training. On the one hand, the majority
of the respondents reported to have been employed as school counselors
for about 4-10 years, which means that by the time they had their
practicum, they already had a couple of years working as school
counselors. Likewise, their mean scores for the SLQ-R are within the
average to above average level, which may suggest approaching the
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transition to Level 2. In Level 2, counselors often experience fluctuations


and vacillations in terms of autonomy and motivation. This leads to a
dependency-autonomy conflict, leading to struggles between seeing
oneself as a therapist and being dependent on a supervisor. On the other
hand, the assumptions proposed by existing theories on supervision claim
that those who undergo practicum and supervision are novice counselors,
typically in Level 1. A Level 1 counselor supervisee is usually highly
dependent, and motivated, but insecure and lacks or has minimal
counseling experience. This indicates that existing supervision theories
may not readily fit counselors in the Philippines who undergo practicum
supervision. A very apparent reason for this however is that counselors in
the Philippines are actually allowed to practice even without an MA
degree. Thus, when they reach the practicum training stage in the graduate
training, they may have already accumulated a good number of years of
experience doing counseling. This lenience in the gate keeping process for
the practice of counseling is not allowed in the North American context
and is a likely the reason for why the developmental models may not be
appropriate to describe Filipino counselor trainees.
The second important finding of this study is the preference for a
more Interpersonally Sensitive Style of supervision. This suggests that
counselor trainees would like to experience more of the
counseling/therapist role of a supervisor. The results also indicate that they
are quite satisfied with the Task Oriented and Attractive styles. Thus, it
appears that they seem to have gotten more of the teaching and consulting
roles when they were supervised. But how important is the exposure to the
Interpersonally Sensitive Style of supervision? What would be the benefit
of getting more exposure to the counselor/therapist role in supervision?
Some studies have shown that satisfaction with supervision had been most
reliably predicted by and associated with receiving an Interpersonally
Sensitive Style of supervision (Fernando & Hulse-Killacky, 2005; Usher
& Borders, 1993). Would this then suggest that Filipino counselor trainees
may not that satisfied with their supervision experience during their
practicum? Unfortunately, we were not able to inquire about this in the
current research but this may need to be addressed in a follow-up study.
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We can also infer that the Interpersonally Sensitive Style of supervision


may be the most difficult to deliver especially for supervisors who may
not have been given appropriate training and supervision experience.
Thus, it is also interesting to check if the reason for this finding is the lack
of training on the part of supervisors.
Implications and Recommendations
Clinical supervision continues to be a challenge among school
counselors. Borders (2005) documented that despite the numerous
researches in the early 1990s about the lack of clinical supervision for
school counselors and the growing desire and need for it, little to no
improvement was made until the 2000s, including studies done in
Australia (McMahon & Patton, 2001) and Israel (Schechtmans &
Wirzberger, 1999). Inadequate supervision is seen to be affected by the
indefinite roles taken by school counselors, limited qualified supervisors
and a possible resistance from school counselors themselves due to the
perception that supervision is more related with psychotherapy, thereby
rendering it irrelevant to school counseling (Matthes, 1992; Herlihy, et al,,
2002; & Luke, Bernard & Ellis, 2011). In the Philippines, the inadequacy
is also apparent. In the study of Tuason, et al., (2012) they identified that
there are only a few field placements available for training school
counselors. Consequently, the required number of practicum hours is
limited to an average of about 100 hours for the masters degree with
minimal to no individual weekly supervision provided.
Although school counselors rarely receive training in supervision
even in the United States (Borders, 2005), they often serve as on-site
supervisors for practicum students and interns. Because of this and the
professionalization of guidance and counseling, the need to train
counselors for supervision is evident. As discussed in this paper,
supervision is important to guide the novice counselor to advance to a
higher degree of professional development and competence. In the
process, it also serves as a gate-keeping measure for the profession.
Further research should be done to examine the extent of supervision
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provided to school counselors to have a clearer picture of the needs and


interests of school counselors in terms of supervised training experiences.
In terms of supervisee development, additional research should
also be done to find a model-fit with the constructs and dimensions
proposed by developmental theorists to the Philippine context. Despite
having cultural nuances, the present study was able to confirm findings of
previous research in terms of preferences in supervisory styles and
emphasis. This is a potent area not only for academic research but also for
professional growth for counselors as supervisors and supervisees alike.
There is a need to advocate supervision to dispel some notions about its
misconceptions especially among school counselors. Perhaps, this might
also lead to a clearer picture of the scope of the roles and responsibilities
of school counselors.
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