Feminist approaches to supervision prioritize the use of collaborative and empowering approaches to therapist training and learning. Feminist-informed supervision collaboratively emphasizes issues such as gender, culture, power, and justice influencing therapeutic and supervisory relationships.
Prouty, Thomas, Johnson, & Long (2001) conducted interviews of supervisors and supervisees to explore feminist supervision methods. They discovered three common approaches including the use of intentional contracting as well as varying combinations of collaborative and hierarchical methods. Supervisors contracted with supervisees to develop clear expectations concerning the therapist's goals and responsibilities in supervision coupled with a mutual evaluation process. Supervisors and supervisees using a feminist approach engage in a series of conversations throughout the supervision process that addresses each other's' expectations and the progressive accomplishment of supervisory goals. Additionally, supervisors expressed their intentions to provide an appropriate level of direction and guidance that matches a therapist's expectations and level of development.
Supervisors noted that a feminist approach does not always indicate the use of a collaborative, egalitarian approach. They described examples involving safety and ethical issues with a beginning therapist often require a more hierarchical, directive approach. Also, therapists requesting specific direction were often met with a greater degree of supervisory direction. While a supervisor using a feminist approach is more directive, he or she continues to search for ways to further empower the therapist throughout the process of supervision and in therapy. A resulting tension exists between the supervisors attempts to provide direction and guidance with efforts to fortify an egalitarian relationship with the supervisee.
The hallmarks of a feminist approach involve a continual awareness and attention given to power dynamics as well as gender and broader contextual issues influencing therapy and supervision processes (Morgan & Sprenkle, 2007). Supervisors and therapists engaged in feminist-informed supervision intentionally and overtly address contextual issues. Each makes deliberate attempts to broaden the scope of general theoretical frameworks and therapeutic conceptualizations.
- What is a question you could ask your supervisor to help you to explore contextual issues involving the family's ethnicity or social economic status (SES)?
- How might gender issues be influencing family member assumptions about the involvement in therapy?