Welcome to this Supervision Post!

In this post, I will be discussing another one of the parts of my diagram (see image below) – in particular the developmental model as presented by Stoltenberg and Delworth.

This model focuses on the trainee’s stages of development and how the supervisor can support the trainee at each stage.

This model of supervision is useful when assessing the supervisee’s pace and style of learning, and particularly when the supervisee’s level of development needs to be ascertained.

I feel it only works well if considered on side of other models, such as the Hawkins and Shohet model discussed in another supervision post, which goes deeper into supervisory methods.

The aim of supervision, according to Stoltenberg and Delworth is for the supervisee to develop and monitor their:

  • Awareness of self and others
    • The supervisee works on their personal and professional development, learning how to read their own and their clients’ verbal and nonverbal communications and feelings in order to make adequate and helpful interventions, as well as develop the ability to think and reflect on what goes on in the sessions and within the supervisee themselves.
  • Motivational levels
    • With successes and feelings of “not quite getting it right” in sessions, motivation might go up and down, especially at the beginner and intermediate levels. As the supervisee’s practice develops, he/she will be more consistent in their confidence and motivation.
  • Ability to work towards autonomy
    • The supervisee’s relationship will change, starting off with a dependency on the supervisor’s guidance, suggestions, experience and knowledge, moving towards a more autonomous way of working which will allow reflective practice and the ability to use the supervision space as a space more of consultation between colleagues.

The authors developed nine areas for the supervisee to work on and master in supervision. The supervisee is in charge of assessing growth and need for development in these areas:

  1. Intervention
    • The supervisee will move from using the interventions the supervisor suggests, to being more confident in trusting their gut and their own interventions during sessions. Also knowing why they said or did a particular thing with this or that client.
  2. Skill competence
    • As supervision and the supervisee’s development progresses, more skill competence will be achieved, and more independence and autonomy will be noticeable from both the way the supervisee sees supervision, but also the way the supervisor supports the supervisee.
  3. Assessment techniques
  4. Interpersonal assessment
    • The supervisee will be more confident in their work and therefore have more space to look at what goes on between him/her and their client, as well as with the supervisor.
  5. Client conceptualisation
    • As above, it will become more natural, as time passes, to think about what the client is doing, why he/she is doing it and how to work with the client through their issues.
  6. Individual differences
    • The supervisee will be able to notice and work through differences between them and their clients, be it sex, age, religion, culture, and how to enhance their knowledge and practice to best help clients that are very different or very similar to them without colluding or doing harm.
  7. Theoretical orientation
    • Development from the supervisor simplifying the theories to help the supervisee, to the supervisee mentioning theories they find useful when working with clients and justifying their interventions.
  8. Treatment goals and plans
  9. Professional ethics
    • Ethical issues will come up in sessions, more with some clients than others, and it is important to discuss these in supervision and work through them, with more or less support depending on the level the supervisee might be in.

Stoltenberg and Delworth describe what goes on for both supervisee and supervisor at the different levels as follows (you can follow this in the diagram below):

Beginner Level

Role of the supervisee – imitate, little experience, dependent on the supervisor; anxiety, insecurity, highly motivated, self-focussed awareness, performance anxiety, difficult to listen to and process information from the session

Role of the supervisor – demonstrate or model needed skills and behaviours, teacher role; safety, containment, support, structure, attentive listening, memory aid, unscheduled/emergency supervision contact, positive feedback, simplify concepts/theory, graded approach to client complexity

Intermediate Level

Role of the supervisee – less imitative; strives for independence; dependence/autonomy conflicts, overconfident, overwhelmed, fluctuating motivation, self-doubt and abilities

Role of the supervisor – provides some structure but encourages exploration; note development process, use examples, work with confidence issues, provide a firm base and clear boundaries/contracts

Advanced Level

Role of the supervisee – more insightful and motivated; more autonomous sharing; conditional dependency, self-confident, consistent with clients, good insight and awareness of process issues

Role of the supervisor – listens and offers suggestions when asked; guided discovery, reflective practice

Master Counsellor

Role of the supervisee – skilled interpersonally, cognitively and professionally; personal autonomy, insightful, awareness, able to confront personal/professional issues, process in context of client work, collegial approach to supervision

Role of the supervisor – provides collegial and consultative functions; acknowledge that development is an ongoing process.

If we now bring in Hawkins and Shohet’s integrative supervision model, we can see how the relationship discussions that go on in supervision can be graded in a way that the beginner supervisee isn’t overwhelmed with aspects that he/she might still be new to, such as reflective practice and linking theory to practice. These will develop along the supervisee’s development, which is why it is important to assess the developmental level of a supervisee and provide the support required at each level.

References: Russell-Chapin L.A. and Chapin, T. (2011). Clinical supervision: theory and practice. Cengage Learning

Stoltenberg, C.D. and Delworth, U. (1987). Supervising counsellors and Therapists: A developmental approach. Wiley

I hold a Certificate in Clinical Supervision from the University of Derby.I offer Clinical Supervision to qualified counsellors, and support during the course for trainee counsellors. (1

In Supervision: A Developmental Model