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Counseling supervision within a feminist framework: guidelines for intervention.

Feminist supervision is based on the principles of feminist theory. Goals include sharing responsibility for the supervision process, empowering the supervisee, attending to the contextual assumptions about clients, and analyzing gender roles. This article explores feminist supervision and guidelines for providing counseling supervision interventions within a feminist framework.

Keywords: feminist theory, feminist supervision, counseling supervision


Feminist supervision is the application of feminist theory and values to the supervisory process, content, and relationship. It places a central emphasis on the use of a sociological lens to explain how different experiences of self and relationships are formed. Initially critical of gender roles and constraints in society as well as in psychotherapy, more recently feminist theorists have donned a multicultural sensitivity to one's situatedness in society whereby gender intersects with race, class, sexual orientation, and other sociological constructs. Furthermore, feminism recognizes the societal structure as benefiting certain demographic groups while oppressing other groups of people. Feminist supervision and its companion, feminist counseling theory, attempt to recognize and reconcile these disparities within the counseling context with the intent to empower clients and enhance their abilities to make life-affirming choices. These goals are congruent with the humanistic counseling emphasis on facilitating individuals' self-actualization (Cain, 2001). They also closely mirror the humanistic belief that people possess the right and ability to generate their own goals, both personally and professionally, and to actively develop achievable plans to meet their self-constructed goals (Cain, 2001). In short, since the early days of the women's movement, the ties between feminism and humanism have been explored because both constructs focus on self-efficacy and self-direction (Serlin & Criswell, 2001). And although there is deep and rich literature addressing both constructs, there remains a paucity of literature detailing the practices of feminist supervision within a counseling paradigm.

Current literature does not provide a unified, comprehensive inventory of feminist supervision procedures for counselors. It is often the quality of the supervision relationship that is defined as feminist rather than a group of specific supervision techniques (Porter, 1985). Nevertheless, in a qualitative study, Prouty (1996) identified feminist ideas, the supervisor-counselor relationship, the empowerment of the counselor, and supervision methods as four themes of feminist supervision that may differ from traditional supervision practice. Because the first theme, feminist ideas, should inform all aspects of feminist supervision, we include it within the discussion of the latter three themes. We first examine the literature addressing the basic tenets of feminist supervision, then we provide a detailed review of specific traditional supervision interventions and how they can be implemented within a feminist framework.


Similar to the counselor-client relationship conceived by Freud in the 1890s, clinical supervision was traditionally structured as a hierarchical relationship in which supervisees hold considerably less power than supervisors (Edwards & Chen, 1999). Historically, the client undergoing psychoanalysis relied on the analyst to interpret her or his unconscious; in turn, the analyst in training sought interpretation from the expert analyst for years to perfect her or his technique. However, the feminist supervision model is different in several specific ways from other models of clinical supervision, including the ways in which the supervision dyad is addressed. Although the focus of this article is the feminist supervision process, it is just one of many effective methods of supervision. The following is a review of the literature that provides an overview of qualities found within the feminist supervisory relationship, the role of power, and empowerment of the supervisee.


Feminist theory has been developed to more fully invite the collaboration and expertness of clients into the counseling process (Worell & Remer, 2003). Translating the therapeutic principles of feminist theory into supervision has led to a form of supervision that is collaborative, empowering, and strengths based. Pack (2009) noted that critical reflection in the supervision process depends on the presence of trust, safety, mutuality, equality, open disclosure, and provision of timely and constructive feedback.

The demystification of the therapeutic process is also an important aspect of feminist therapy, which, when carried over into supervision, can result in a kind of transparency regarding the supervision process (Edwards & Chen, 1999). By opening themselves up to "not knowing," supervisors invite supervisees to share their own ideas in supervision sessions. By modeling a nonexpert stance in supervision, feminist supervisors may encourage supervisees to risk a similar stance in their counseling sessions, which may allow clients to share more and reflect more on their own experiences. Keeney (1983) stated that the deepest order of change was in transforming a person's view of the world. Supervision, carried out successfully, can effect this change in supervisees as well as open the door for supervisees to facilitate the transformation of their clients' worldviews. Parallel process (Eckstein & Wallerstein, 1958), which describes the mirroring of the counselor-client dynamics within the supervisor-supervisee interaction, can spur this developmental process. Thus, feminist supervision may allow for a great deal of client, counselor, and supervisor growth.

By creating a model of supervision based on strengths, supervisors will help their supervisees begin to focus on the strengths of their clients. If supervision is performed only to correct supervisee deficits, the supervisee may pathologize and seek to fix clients. Supervisors who model a professional relationship based on collaboration, mutual trust, and respect will provide supervisees with a healthy model for their own professional relationships with clients. This attention and promotion of supervisee and client growth will operationalize the humanistic emphasis on self-actualization. Decades ago, Abrell (1974) defined the characteristics and roles of a humanistic supervisor and emphasized the essential traits of "asking rather than telling, sharing rather than controlling, and trusting rather than mistrusting" (p. 214). Each of these could easily be applied to the feminist supervisory relationship.

In summary, feminist supervisors have reported that the supervisory relationship includes commitment, availability, challenges to the supervisee, respect, and open discussion about the relationship with the supervisee (Prouty, 2001). The dynamics of a feminist relationship are hallmarked by caring for and valuing of the other as well as an emphasis placed on the supervision process, not merely the outcome (Hipp & Munson, 1995). This mutual caring allows for the open discussion of the power differentials found within any supervisory relationship.


Power has been defined as the capacity to produce change (Mitchell, 2000), and feminist supervisors must take ownership of the power inherent in their roles in order to place themselves in the proper position to effect change in supervisees. In fact, power and its ownership generate important dynamics in the supervisory relationship, and feminist supervisors should not ignore the inherent power differential within the relationship. Feminist supervisors who try to avoid any overt attention to power, either by attempting an egalitarian relationship or by pretending that there is no power imbalance, will promote a relationship based on hidden forces of power. Addressing the unequal power balance openly will allow challenge and negotiation between the supervisor and supervisee (Hewson, 1999).

The supervisor's authority in the relationship provides legitimate power-which is typically awarded solely on the basis of a person's role or title (French & Raven, 1959)--as the relationship commences. Referent power can be used as the supervisor models appropriate feminist behaviors within the supervision relationship and begins to serve as a role model for the supervisee (French & Raven, 1959). Expert power, which is earned through one's own experience (French & Raven, 1959), supports the supervisor in the roles of collaborator and teacher. Akamatsu, Basham, and Olson (1996) stated that the denial of power is a denial of responsibility, which underscores the importance of acknowledgment and ownership of power in a feminist supervisory relationship. Falender (2010) recognized that the analysis of power within the supervision dyad is inherent to effective feminist supervision.

Taylor (1994) posited the notion that feminist supervision involves shared power, and an ideal relationship might be signified by power between supervisor and supervisee as opposed to supervisor power over the supervisee (Hewson, 1999). This relationship dynamic might decrease the sense of "one-downsmanship" for supervisees by removing the rigid hierarchy and allowing supervisees to express their own opinions and expertise in supervision. The supervisor and the supervisee can address and negotiate the power of the relationship by open dialogue in such a way that trust is maintained and the relationship is strengthened. Another benefit of this shared power is the opportunity for supervisees to trust themselves as counselors and to increasingly trust and seek out their clients' expertness and knowledge.

Lyness and Helmeke (2008) suggested that a mentoring relationship between supervisor and supervisee be a framework within which the power balance can be assessed and addressed. This can be accomplished in ways that shift supervision emphasis from a deficit-based, remedial orientation (Edwards & Chen, 1999) to a collaborative, strength-based model. Supervisees often bring significant amounts of anxiety to supervision sessions, and this anxiety can be detrimental to the supervision process (Yager & Beck, 1981). The fear of criticism, a lack of honesty, and avoidance of responsibility were specifically noted as barriers to supervisee growth. Each of these negative states may be effectively minimized when supervision is framed within the feminist paradigm. Ideally, feminist supervision will emphasize respect, honesty, collaboration, and empowerment for the supervisee (Rampage, 1996). Only by exemplifying the appropriate ownership of power can a supervisor, in turn, share this power with a supervisee in such a way that the supervisee becomes empowered.


Although client empowerment is frequently promoted as a goal in mission statements, public relations materials, and so on, it is often considered a nebulous term. However, Frain, Tschopp, and Bishop (2009) explored the components that actually contribute to empowerment and found four variables: self-efficacy, self-advocacy, competence, and the ability to acknowledge and overcome self-perceived stigma. Each of these components echoes the humanistic emphasis on freewill as well as the essential need to confront and overcome stereotypes (Serlin & Criswell, 2001). It has been determined that empowerment of supervisees is generally dependent on the quality of the supervisory relationship, which must be strong (Porter, 1985). Supervisees must feel safe enough in the relationship to self-disclose much about themselves as persons and as professionals. Empowerment, ironically enough, can only develop as supervisees expose their weaknesses to a person who holds greater power than they hold themselves. Supervisees must give up power in order to earn power. It is by working through their feelings of vulnerability, exposing areas of weakness, risking criticism or rejection, and yet continuing to feel accepted in the relationship that supervisees gain the power and confidence from self-acceptance. A feminist supervision relationship accomplishes this through confirmation of supervisees as worthy from the start of the relationship; collaboration and dialogue; transparency in the relationship; and reflexivity, in which the supervisees' knowledge, not just the expert knowledge of the supervisor, is valued (Akamatsu et al., 1996). The unique power of the supervisor can be used in such a way that power is transferred to the supervisee. By attending to the supervisee's goals, working toward them collaboratively, and coconstructing supervision objectives and performance criteria, the feminist supervisor shares responsibility for the process and empowers the supervisee (Porter, 1985), providing a path that exemplifies humanistic values addressing self-determination.

Feminist supervision has been defined as having six main objectives: (a) respecting each supervisee's unique goals; (b) working to bring supervisees to awareness of their attributes, values, and behaviors with respect to gender; (c) supplying a facilitative atmosphere in which supervisees can discuss sex-role stereotypes and socialization, among other things; (d) assisting supervisees in gaining an understanding that the personal is political, including the political impact of counseling on clients' roles in society; (e) modeling respect and equality for supervisees; and (f) educating supervisees on women's issues (Porter, 1985). Although these goals are similar to fundamental feminist therapy principles, feminist supervision does not mandate that both the supervisor and the supervisee ascribe to a feminist theoretical orientation. It is a positive, strength-based framework under which supervision can be provided to supervisees who do not formally practice feminist therapy; however, the supervisee needs to be willing to consider gender roles and biases for self and client.


Feminist theory emphasizes the importance of praxis, that is, putting into practice the beliefs one espouses. Feminist counseling literature presents the principles of feminist theory as well as specific feminist techniques (e.g., see Corey, 2009; Crawford & Unger, 2004; Worell & Remer, 2003). Less has been written about feminist supervision and exactly which interventions would be considered appropriate to this orientation or how they would be put into practice (Prouty, 2001). However, the role of the feminist supervisor has been explored, and the following tasks provide a framework within which feminist supervision can take place: mentoring, teaching, collaborating, modeling, providing useful feedback, ensuring quality client care, and consulting (Akamatsu et al., 1996; Hawes, 1998).

Using qualitative research, Prouty, Thomas, Johnson, and Long (2001) determined that there are three types of feminist supervision methods: contracting, collaborative, and hierarchical. Contracting at the outset of the supervisory relationship is integral to working within a feminist framework (Martinez, Davis, & Dahl, 1999). Contracting in the form of informed consent (Falender, 2010) allows for open collaboration and clarifies the power differential present in the supervisory relationship. It is essential that supervisors allow their supervisees to articulate what they expect to receive from the supervision relationship and that the goals be jointly agreed on to avoid misunderstandings down the road. Supervisees must also be made aware of supervisors' preferred methods of providing supervision. Collaborative techniques incorporate input from both supervisor and supervisee and foster the growth of supervisee independence. Hierarchical interventions involve the use of supervisor authority or power and are more directive in nature. Prouty (2001) noted that supervisors choose collaborative or hierarchical techniques on the basis of supervisee needs, developmental level, and external factors such as the presence of safety issues.

Next, we discuss several supervision methods that fit into the feminist supervision paradigm. We include interventions used in individual and group settings as well as live supervision.

Individual Supervision Interventions

Feminist-based individual supervision interventions typically focus on increasing self-awareness and case conceptualization skills. Feminist supervisors work for social change by encouraging their supervisees to examine their own identities and social constructs and to broaden the lens through which they view their clients, with an emphasis on sociological influences. Porter (2010) noted that social justice, community engagement, and advocacy are elements of feminist supervision, and this warrants that they be addressed with supervisees. Feminist supervisors teach supervisees to look at the social context surrounding a client issue, not simply psychological components. Individual supervision interventions include self-disclosure, case conceptualization, the "reversal," genograms, client inclusion, and audiotape/videotape review.

Self-disclosure. It is essential that feminist supervisors risk self-disclosure with their supervisees. Supervisor self-disclosure positions the supervisor as a collaborator and a learner, not solely as the expert. Supervisors may choose to recount incidents in which they blundered with clients so that supervisees may realize that their own developmental challenges are normal. Success stories should also be shared in a manner that invites supervisees to trust themselves to succeed as well. Professional self-disclosure converges with the feminist therapy goal of demystifying the counseling process--for the supervisee as well as the client.

Case conceptualization. When structured within a feminist framework, case conceptualization includes a social and cultural explanation sensitive to power differentials, multicultural considerations, and gender roles. For nonfeminist counselors, the supervisor can use feminist theory to expand supervisees' visualization of clients and client systems. Sex-role analysis can be an important method of helping supervisees better understand clients' issues (Paisley, 1994). Supervisors can encourage their supervisees to talk about the ways in which their clients are behaving in gender-stereotypic ways that may be less conducive to progress. The supervisor also can encourage supervisees to explore their own expectations for clients, and these can be examined for bias. Additionally, supervisees can discuss their views of the counselor-client relationship, and supervision can be a place to explore power differentials that may exist and present potential obstacles to client progress. A study by Cummings (2000) indicated that teaching novice counselors to take a gender-role perspective and place their clients' issues within a sociocultural context can be successfully accomplished within a supervision/workshop training format. Thus, case conceptualization possibilities can be expanded through the use of feminist viewpoints within supervision.

The "reversal." Rampage (1996) suggested that as supervisees discuss their conceptualization of a case, they follow the initial narrative of the case with a reversal of the gender role. Switching the sex of the client during discussion of the supervisee's assessment and treatment plan can lead to closer exploration of the gender aspects of the dilemma and provide insight to the supervisee on how to better help the client. The reversal is particularly effective with couples and families. By exploring the gender-role dynamics and expectations, the supervisee may be better able to explain and reenvision the client systems and articulate the hidden forces that may be supporting the client problem. The reversal is an effective method of detecting whether a relationship exhibits fairness and balance. When supervisees feel particularly stuck with a client system, the reversal serves to shake up the conceptualization and often provides greater insight and a new perspective. Clients may begin counseling saying "That's the way it has to be" and move to "That's the way society has always said it has to be," which can give them the options to alter their worldview and their personal interactions. Nontraditional gender roles and individual intentionality can be affirmed within a feminist framework, and the reversal can be one method of assisting supervisees to gain insight and momentum.

Genograms. Clients are often asked to create genograms to better understand their own choices and family contexts. Rampage (1996) suggested the use of genograms in supervision as well, as a way to help supervisees understand their own sex-role socialization, gender stereotypes, and values. By creating sex-role-oriented genograms of their own families, supervisees can explore in supervision their own views and expectations of gendered behaviors they consider appropriate both in counselor-client relationships and in supervisee-supervisor relationships. Supervisees who lack self-awareness of the inherent messages they were sent about societal roles often cannot provide adequate assistance to clients who are working to break their own stereotypes and culture-bound limitations. Paisley (1994) stated that supervisors must be vigilant in noting any ways in which bias in expectations or actions may be occurring within supervision, especially when the supervisor and the supervisee are of different genders. Because traditional power dynamics infuse more power in men than in women, Paisley emphasized that cross-gender supervisory relationships be monitored for power imbalances and that if any are detected, they must be addressed and corrected. Genograms and discussions of family dynamics and relationships often provide fertile ground for sex-role analysis and revision of stereotypes and biases.

Client inclusion. This intervention can be a literal inclusion of the client in the supervision session or a symbolic inclusion of the client (Edwards & Chen, 1999). By having the client present, the supervisee is motivated to avoid use of pathologizing language, to minimize any biased comments about the client and/or the client's concerns, and to involve the client in the treatment decision-making process. When it is impossible to actually include the client in supervision, the supervisee can be encouraged to assume that the client is present. This attention to the imagined presence of the client can encourage the supervisee to avoid negative and unsubstantiated comments regarding the client issue and diagnosis, thereby inviting a respect for, and inclusion of, the client as part of her or his own treatment team. Attempts to heighten supervisee sense of client inclusion can be reflected in the writing of case notes; supervisors can ask how the supervisee would feel if a client was reading over the supervisee's shoulder. By suggesting that supervisees discuss the case from both the client's and supervisees' own perspectives, supervisors convey that a collaborative effort can be made to work for the client's good. This commitment to collaboration with the client mirrors the supervisor's collaboration with the supervisee, an essential aspect of productive feminist supervision. Furthermore, humanistic principles are actualized as supervisees are encouraged to heighten their empathy with their clients' perspectives.

Audiotape/videotape review. Allowing supervisees to have input into which sections of audio- or videotape are cued is a way to invite collaboration and empowerment into the intervention, again emphasizing the egalitarian aspects of the feminist supervision process. Interpersonal process recall is one method of tape review that easily fits within the feminist framework, because its purpose is to allow the supervisee a space in which to verbally process unspoken thoughts and feelings during a session (Bernard & Goodyear, 2009). The supervisor provides supervisees a safe place to discuss and explore internal responses, including values, biases, and expectations. The nonjudgmental nature of this process assures supervisees that the supervisor will not evaluate the actual responses in session but will invite discussion of internal processes. As Prouty (2001) noted, the role of emotion plays a central role in feminist supervision, and this intervention provides supervisees opportunities to discuss their inner feelings in a supportive setting.

Supervisors can also use the audio- or videotape for specific teaching goals. Allowing either the supervisee or the supervisor to choose when to pause the audio- or videotape also demonstrates a shared power within the relationship, exemplifying the collaborative and mutual supervisor-supervisee relationship. If a supervisor's goal for a supervision session is to address needs for improvement, use of taped sessions is a wise choice to increase supervisee understanding of the goal. The supervisee can be shown a section of the tape that the supervisor feels holds educational value, and the supervisee can be invited to discuss what is happening in the session. Exploring supervisees' performance in session and providing supervisees with a safe environment in which they feel comfortable questioning their performance can allow for discussion of the motivations behind particular responses while not implying that there is only one correct response that could have been made in session. Learning can be facilitated at deeper levels when supervisees are allowed to think through a lesson rather than taught to parrot the supervisor. In addition to aligning with feminist supervision goals, this also supports the humanistic emphasis on self-development and integrity.

Group Supervision Interventions

In keeping with the collaborative nature of the supervision process within the feminist framework, the use of group supervision is highly valued. Group supervision is particularly well suited to the feminist framework through its inclusion of multiple voices and exposure to multiple options (Prouty et al., 2001). By inviting the collaboration of the group members, group supervision allows supervisors to expose their supervisees to multiple viewpoints and provide each group member the opportunity to share her or his own insights and perspectives with the group. Group supervision can epitomize feminist principles as a facilitative, nonhierarchical, and consultative collaboration of colleagues. The following is a discussion of appropriate group interventions, including peer-group supervision and tag-team supervision.

Peer-group supervision. Group supervision can be used in such a way to simulate a consciousness-raising environment, which is one of the more active techniques of feminist therapy (Hipp & Munson, 1995). Peer groups can be effective in raising the consciousness of nonfeminist members when the feminist members explore the supervision process within their own feminist framework. By discussing multiple perspectives, supervisees can begin to see the socialization and biases that may exist in their own treatment of the case or in the clients or client systems themselves. Group supervision can exemplify the feminist ideals of collaboration and nonhierarchical relationships when performed correctly. Furthermore, feminist principles can be modeled for nonfeminist supervisees in such a way that the benefits of a feminist framework may become apparent to these members and eventually internalized into their counseling work.

Tag-team supervision. This is a specific technique used in group supervision in which the members of the group role play the client(s) and the counselor (Edwards & Chen, 1999). The tag-team aspect emerges when different group members take turns playing the counselor. This method can be used in supervision groups or in classrooms; it allows the actual counselor the opportunity to see the client issue from multiple perspectives. After the role play, the group members come together to discuss their ideas about how best to work with the client, and the tag-team members are each asked to expand on how they have come to their particular understanding of the issue. As the tag-team counselors are invited to discuss their different views and the context in which they arrived at them, they become collaborative counselors and empowered in their abilities to develop strategies to work with different types of clients. The group supervisor who manages tag-team supervision effectively will convey the belief that there are multiple ways of working with the client and multiple options for facilitating client growth, setting the stage for group members to participate in mutual feedback with one another and the supervisor. Each of these benefits has been identified as essential aspects of productive feminist supervision (Prouty et al., 2001). This, along with the collaborative environment created by tag-team supervision, diminishes any sense of hierarchy and allows for analysis of the client context from multiple perspectives.

Live Supervision

Live supervision provides an opportunity for a stronger sense of participation and collaboration between supervisors and supervisees that can further strengthen the egalitarian nature of a feminist supervisory relationship. Although live supervision is not restricted to participatory, in-session collaboration, it is important that supervisors be attuned to any potential impact their in-session communications might generate for their supervisees. Prouty et al. (2001) noted that the call-in is typically considered a collaborative intervention because it offers the supervisee multiple perspectives and a variety of options to pursue in session. However, before the advent of any live supervision, the supervisor should discuss with supervisees the parameters within which they may receive spontaneous in-session feedback so as to honor the mutuality of the investment in the experience. It is essential that the supervisor and supervisee have clear goals for this form of supervision, especially if the session is going to include a call-in from the supervisor or any consultation breaks. Call-in interventions should only be made when the supervisor clearly believes that the supervisee is in need of immediate, specific assistance. By providing explicit, clear instructions of what needs asking or doing in session, supervisors facilitate supervisees' learning as well as client sessions. Supervisees often feel empowered to take new risks during live supervision when they feel that an able supervisor will be providing backup.

Similar to the call-in, consultation breaks may take on a different flavor, either collaborative or hierarchical, depending on who initiates the break and whether any prior arrangements have been made for scheduling the breaks. If a supervisee is feeling confused about where to go with a client, collaborating via a consultation break with a supervisor can be empowering. The opportunity to actively acknowledge the need for guidance, as well as the ability to seek it out and then implement suggestions, can allow supervisees to develop their repertoire of professional skills and knowledge. Implemented carelessly, as with the call-in, supervisees may be left feeling inadequate to handle a session on their own. Allowing the supervisee to request consultation, rather than abruptly interrupting the session with a knock on the door, can encourage the supervisee to feel confident to independently conduct the session or feel comfortable to seek collaboration. Offering supervisees this freedom may result in lower supervisee anxiety in counseling sessions and subsequent supervision sessions. Empowering supervisees to seek in-session guidance meets both of these objectives, as the union of feminist and humanist perspectives supports self-reliance and self-advocacy.


Porter (1985) and Prouty (1996) noted that there was a paucity of research addressing the definition and interventions of feminist supervision. It is the construct and paradigm within which the interactions occur that are the identifiers of the utilization of feminist supervision, not simply the interventions. In this article, we provided ideas for introducing specific techniques into a feminist model. Similar to the use of many counseling techniques, a specific intervention may be used across multiple theoretical perspectives with the counselor determining which aspect of the intervention to emphasize through her or his own choice of orientation. This suggests that a significant limitation to the usefulness of the information presented in this article is an individual's interest in actually operationalizing the interventions in the spirit of a feminist perspective. Furthermore, as Morgan and Sprenkle (2007) noted, the feminist approach and feminist themes have been integrated into multiple counseling and supervision theories; however, they underscored that it is the intentional implementation of feminist principles within the supervisory relationship that will set feminist supervision apart from other methods. Again, the success of these interventions is limited by the practitioner's commitment to feminist values and feminist supervision practice. Nonetheless, beginning supervisors who are in the process of determining their most effective methods of supervision may indeed benefit from introducing some of these interventions into their work because they can be translated into other paradigms successfully.

The suggested feminist supervision interventions presented in this article may also represent traditional nonfeminist-based "good practice" interventions (Bernard & Goodyear, 2009). Just as there are many different and effective models and constructs for clinical supervision, there can be a variety of interventions translated across supervision orientations. However, with the alignment between humanistic principles and feminist goals for individual development, practicing these interventions within the feminist framework may invite supervisors to broaden their supervisees' focus on client self-actualization and empowerment. As Prouty et al. (2001) noted, the supervisory relationship and session content are what most clearly define feminist supervision. We recommend that clinical supervision methods used by feminist-identified and humanist-identified supervisors be further explored as an area of research.


Feminist supervision is a framework in which special attention is paid to variables such as gender, diversity, oppression, and power differentials (Douglas & Rave, 1990). Humanistic psychology has long been viewed as a movement with clear ties to feminist theory and practice (Serlin & Criswell, 2001). Feminist supervision also stresses supervisors' commitment to the professional development and personal growth of their supervisees. Working to empower supervisees may include attention to the social influences supervisees have experienced, the biases or expectations they hold, and specific efforts to bring supervisees to greater self-awareness of how these factors inform their work with clients. Empathy for and acceptance of others in their struggles are essential to productive feminist supervision just as they are essential to productive counseling within a humanistic framework. Refusing to assume a rigid, expert stance, feminist supervisors will invite active collaboration from their supervisees, using supervisee input to define the contract, the goals, and the most appropriate interventions. Supervision should be a place where questions are posed rather than answers offered (Hawes, 1998).

Specific techniques, such as the reversal and family genograms, are especially suited to helping address oppressions, social influence, and motivation for social change. Through the practice of empowering supervisees--and clients--to acknowledge and overcome the limiting beliefs of others, supervisors are working within the humanistic paradigm that celebrates individual freewill and the opportunity to construct one's life and one's goals as one sees fit. Other techniques, including live supervision, can be translated easily into a feminist framework that promotes supervisee growth and development and minimizes supervisee anxiety. This framework invites a process, not a product, by inviting supervisees to be creative, open, and committed to their own development.

DOI: 10.1002/j.2161-1939.2013.00035.x


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Suzanne E. Degges-White, Department of Leadership and Counselor Education, University of Mississippi; Bonnie R. Colon, Graduate Studies in Education, Purdue University Calumet; Christine Borzumato-Gainey, R. N. Ellington Health and Counseling Center, Elon University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Suzanne Degges-White, Department of Leadership and Counselor Education, University of Mississippi, 142 Guyton Hall, School of Education, University, MS 38677 (e-mail:
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Author:Degges-White, Suzanne E.; Colon, Bonnie R.; Borzumato-Gainey, Christine
Publication:Journal of Humanistic Counseling
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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