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On-Site Supervisor Orientation and Training


The faculty and students of Counselor Education program at Virginia Tech wish to thank you for your generous contribution of valuable time in serving as an on-site supervisor for one of our interns. Your efforts help promote excellence in the field of Counseling, and the supervisory role you play will elevate the quality of education and directly impact the professional development of the intern at your site.

As you may know, Virginia Tech is accreditted by the Counsel for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP standards state that all on-site supervisors must receive orientation, assistance, and consultation regarding clinical supervision of interns and our program. A supervisor or faculty member from the university will be in touch with site supervisors periodically throughout the placement to provide whatever assistance you may need. In addition, this site has been developed to provide some basic information about clinical supervision, and resources related to providing supervision. We hope you will find it both convenient and informative.

The following information includes an overall orientation and training for all on-site supervisors. All of the information on this web site is relevant for either school and clinical mental health counseling supervisors.

Expectations for Interns

In compliance with CACREP standards, we require our interns to complete 600 hours at internship sites. Interns attend a university group supervision seminar each week in which they will be required to show videotapes of counseling sessions, and most participate in individual or triadic supervision (two supervisees meeting with one supervisor) during their internship as well. This method allows for the most effective feedback to enhance the learning experience of the developing intern. Additionally, interns must maintain logs of their time spent at the site, keep ongoing journals of their experiences, and develop a learning contract approved by both on-site and university supervisors. A foundation for these learning contracts can be accessed in the internship manual. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, interns are required to receive weekly on-site supervision for one hour. This supervision takes place continuously throughout the duration of the internship.

Expectations of On-Site Supervisors

Please review the internship manual to learn about specific experiences needed by interns, examples of learning contract formats, and supervisor evaluations of interns.

  • What is Clinical Supervision?
  • Clinical supervision is "an intervention that is provided by a senior member of a profession to a junior member or members of that same profession. This relationship is evaluative, extends over time, and has the simultaneous purpose of enhancing the professional functioning of the junior member(s), monitoring the quality of professional services offered to the clients, and serving as a gatekeeper for those who are to enter the particular profession"(Bernard & Goodyear, 2013).


  • How does Clinical Supervision differ from Administrative Supervision?
  • While overlap does exist, Clinical Supervision and Administrative Supervision differ in distinct ways. This difference is relevant because many on-site supervisors are more familiar with administrative supervisory roles, and have little or no formal training in Clinical Supervision. As a Clinical Supervisor, you are responsible for the development of the supervisee, as well as the safety and quality of services delivered to the client(s) by the supervisee. Much of the focus in this domain will be given to individual cases. Administrative supervision, on the other hand, places more of an emphasis on issues related to larger matters of organizational functioning (which also subsumes service delivery).
    However, Administrative skills such as maintaining open communication with the university supervisors as well as keeping a written record of each meeting with the supervisee (perhaps in the form of a process or progress note) are also needed by Clinical Supervisors. This written documentation will not only protect you in litigation but will also provide you with an overall view of the intern's progress over the course of the semester, which will inform and support your evaluation of the intern.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

The American Counseling Association (ACA) established the ACA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Similarly, the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), has developed Ethical Guidelines for Counseling Supervisors.

Clinical Supervision Competencies

There are Seven Clinical Supervision Competencies for which you should strive in order to optimize the experience for both you and the intern. These competencies are listed below with examples of Goals. They are also labeled throughout this training module according to relevant areas that would satisfy that competency.

Competency 1: Models of Supervision

Goal: To engage the supervisor with the supervisee in understanding and applying a model of supervision

Competency 2: Counselor Development

Goal: Be able to identify developmental stage of supervisee and self during a session

Competency 3: Knowledge and use of a variety of supervision methods and techniques

Goal: To experience a variety of supervision techniques

Competency 4: Awareness of supervisory relationship characteristics and issues: Intervention strategies to facilitate positive interaction

Goal: To maintain ability to interact equitably where appropriate and to demonstrate assertiveness when necessary to ensure that the issues for supervision are completely covered during the session.

Competency 5: Knowledge and response to ethical, legal, and professional regulatory issues

Goal: To ensure that the supervisee be well informed about legal/ethical issues in counseling and supervision.

Competency 6: Evaluation methods and procedures regarding the counselor's cases, the counselor's skills, and the supervisor's skills

Goal: To evaluate skills of supervisee and your skills as a supervisor.

Goal: To evaluate skills of supervisee and your skills as a supervisor.

Goal: To maintain appropriate records and oversee supervisee's records.

Click the following tabs to review more specific information and examples of supervision competencies.
Competencies 1 and 2 Models of Supervision for On-Site Supervisors and Stages of Development for Interns / Supervisees

Nelson and Johnson (1999) have done an elegant job of blending the models of Littrell et al. (1979) and Bernard (1979, 1997) to address the stages of supervision in accordance with the intern's needs, as well as the focus of supervision and the various roles played by the supervisor. The result is an integrated approach that we believe will provide a helpful foundation for on-site supervisors working with interns in both school and community / agency sites. The discrimination model (Bernard, 1979, 1997) identifies three foci of supervision including process, conceptualization, and personalization. Process refers to techniques and strategies to use in therapy. Conceptualization is a more cognitive focus that relies on the intern's analysis of client patterns, identification of progress, as well as realistic models or goals for clients. Personalization can encompass openness to supervision, cognitive and emotional self-awareness of the intern, and how interns integrate their personal style with their counseling style. Within each focus, a supervisor could play any of three roles: teacher, counselor, or consultant (which is more a combination of teacher and counselor). Littrell et al. (1979), outlined the following stages of development typically experienced by interns. The first is the Orientation Stage, which includes establishing the relationship with the supervisor and constructing the learning contract. Teaching and counseling roles from Bernard's Discrimination Model are more helpful to use with interns at this stage (Nelson & Johnson, 1999).The second stage is the Working Stage where interns are exposed to clients and the supervisor assesses the intern's strengths and weaknesses. As the intern progresses through this stage, he or she might strengthen existing skills or learn new strategies. The supervisor will provide knowledge, structure, and support by alternating between roles of teacher and counselor (Nelson & Johnson, 1999).The third stage is the Transition Stage, marked by a gain in the intern's self-confidence related to an improvement in their skills. Interns should have the capacity for greater self-awareness at this stage and should be encouraged to assert their independence by offering options or suggestions for interventions, rather than looking directly toward the supervisor for answers. It is suggested that the supervisor begin to adopt more of a collegial or consultant role at this stage (Nelson & Johnson, 1999).The fourth and final stage is the Integration Stage, which many interns will not attain until they have acquired more post-master's experience in the school or agency. However, a few students may have either considerable skills or previous related work experience that helps them reach this stage while still in internship. The competence level that accompanies this stage includes knowledge of solid counseling skills important for the site, as well as skills necessary to create their own strategies, activities, or programs for clients. On-Site Supervisors at this stage will still find it appropriate to assume roles of teacher or counselor at times, but the primary role will be that of consultant.

This final consultation role characterizes the relationship as more of a partnership, where supervisors play a more distant role that allows interns to design the remainder of their experience. A strong focus is on integration which is accomplished through verbal feedback and periodic written and summative evaluations.

How to Encourage Supervisee Reflectivity Within Roles Outlined by the Discrimination Model

A few examples from a model developed by Neufeldt (1994 in Bernard & Goodyear, 1998, p103) may serve to ground the stages and roles presented above.

*Teaching functions:

  1. Teach, demonstrate, or model intervention strategies.Explain the rationale behind specific strategies and/or interventions.
  2. Interpret significant events in the counseling session.

*Counseling functions:

  1. Explore trainee feelings during the counseling and/or the supervision session.
  2. Facilitate explorations of the intern's worries during the counseling session.

*Consulting Functions:

  1. Encourage intern brainstorming interventions to use.
  2. Allow intern to structure supervision session.

*Combined Functions (for Advanced Interns)

  1. Assist identification and use of cues in client's and intern's behavior.
  2. Explore intern's intentions in sessions.
Competency 6 (See attached evaluation forms) Evaluation of Interns

Bernard and Goodyear (1998) provide much information regarding processes and issues in supervision. Among them is the importance of the supervisory relationship. In this relationship trust between supervisor and supervisee is something to be earned over the course of supervision in the internship, but is a vital element to intern development as it influences how much they disclose about their client/counselor interactions. It is important to the intern to feel that he or she is liked by the supervisor, which provides an even playing field from which to work on their skills in a professional and neutral environment. Occasional moments of interpersonal interaction can go a long way in alleviating this particular anxiety, especially given the evaluative nature of the relationship.

Additionally, interns are likely to have high anxiety initially, both in working with clients and the supervisor. This anxiety is enhanced or moderated by the intern's maturity level, previous experience, personality, and relationships with clients and supervisor (Bernard & Goodyear, 1998).

The evaluative nature of the supervisory relationship and its connection with the academic climate can exacerbate anxiety. While an optimum level of some anxiety enhances performance, too much anxiety can be debilitating. Communication of awareness and understanding of this to the supervisee and pointing out instances when anxiety might be interfering or disrupting intern performance can be effective in lowering anxiety levels (Bernard & Goodyear, 1998).

Supervisees need to feel competent, which is our reason for emphasizing a strength-based approach (beginning feedback by focusing on strengths first). However, they also want honest feedback about what they can do to improve their performance. Incorporating both aspects into supervision will likely enhance trust in the relationship as the intern perceives they are being treated honestly and fairly.

Competency 3 Supervision Methods and Techniques
  • Structuring the Supervision Session

Research has shown that less experienced supervisees are more likely to focus on case conceptualization, prefer more structured supervision with more of a preference for supervisor directiveness (Winter & Holloway, 1991; Tracey, Ellickson, & Sherry, 1989; Wetchler & Vaughn, 1991, in Bernard & Goodyear, 1998).

More experienced interns will likely pursue issues of enhancing personal growth (Winter & Holloway, 1991 in Bernard & Goodyear, 1998).

It is the task of the supervisor to provide a balanced structure to the supervision session. One suggestion for initiating this structure comes from a form produced by Dr. Hildy Getz at Virginia Tech. This format allows for a balance of both exploration of case conceptualization as well as focusing on goals and personal growth. This supervision session structure used by university supervisors with the interns at Virginia Tech is outlined below. You may wish to tailor it to suit your needs as the internship progresses.

  1. Information about the counseling case: presenting problem, history of presenting problem, previous attempts at problem solution, important information about the counselee etc. Include information about how Counselor’s and Client’s cultural lens may influence their perspectives of the presenting issues. (5 minutes suggested time)
  2. Counseling plan: goals, action step, desired outcomes. (5 minutes suggested time)
  3. Counselor's actions: name techniques, skills, strategies, interventions. (5 minutes suggested time)
  4. Counselor's self-awareness: thoughts, feelings about client, about self, about the counseling process. (5 minutes suggested time)
  5. Counselor request to supervisor- I need help with _____(5 minutes suggested time)
  6. Watch/listen to video/audio tape. (15 minutes suggested time)

Supervisor/Supervision Group should be prepared to do the following:

  1. Give feedback about counselor strengths first and then areas needing improvement.
  2. Give feedback about the counseling case and future counseling direction.

After all feedback from supervisor/supervisor group, determine:

a. Future direction for the case: goals, action steps, evidence.
b. Future goals for counselor: goals, action steps, evidence.

To view a brief example of two supervision segments click on the title below:


How Do I Supervise Thee?

As mentioned earlier, supervision at Virginia Tech uses modalities including reviewing audio and video tapes, observation in the room, or some form of live supervision. Research has shown that self-report does not allow for the most effective supervision to take place, as most of us are not accurate historians and too much information (including all subtleties and nonverbals) is missed.

Techniques and Interventions for Supervision

1. Interpersonal Process Recall

Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR) is an interesting intervention you may wish to utilize when you have the luxury of reviewing a video-taped segment. It allows for the supervisor to lead the intern in self-exploration. It works most effectively by pausing the video and exploring that moment in the session. Examples from Bernard and Goodyear (1998, p102) are included below.

*Affective Exploration
Were you aware of any feelings?

*Exploring Unstated Agendas
What would you have liked to have said at this point?
What's happening here?
If you had more time, where would you have liked to have gone?

*Exploring Cognitions
What were you thinking at that time?
Is that the image you want to project?

*Exploring Images
What was going on in your mind at the time?
Were any pictures, images, or memories flashing through your mind then?

*Exploring Mutual Perceptions
Was the client giving you cues as to how he/she was feeling?
How do your think she/he felt about talking about this problem?

*Exploring Expectations
What did you want the client to do/say?

2. Modeling

Modeling is accomplished when the supervisor demonstrates within the supervision session a particular behavior for the benefit of the supervisee.

3. Role-playing and Role-Reversal

Role play and role-reversal are accomplished when the supervisor and supervisee engage in rehearsal of some past or future counseling situation for the benefit of the supervisee.

These strategies offer inventive ways to enhance intern development as well as providing an opportunity for the intern to take a new perspective on a variety of issues and client situations.

A Final Word

We appreciate your time and willingness to serve as an on-site supervisor. We hope that this orientation and training site has provided you with helpful information that you can use with our students. If you have any questions at all beyond this training, please do not hesitate to contact the university supervisor. They are here to support you through this process. Open communication is always key to promoting student development and maintaining good relationships between training institutions.

Please take a moment to email verification that you have received and read this orientation and training information. Any comments, questions, or suggestions regarding the on-line training would be appreciated. Again, thank you for your cooperation. We could not do this without you!

Please email Dr. Laura Farmer at or call her at (540) 231-9725 after reading the information above to verify receipt of training. You are also encouraged to make comments or suggestions about this page using the contact information above.

To download the individual supervision forms use the links below: