Establishing rapport and a strong working alliance with supervisees is essential for a successful working relationship. There are many ways to achieve good rapport with supervisees, and several of these parallel the process that therapists use to create good rapport with clients. Several variables may impact rapport development between supervisor and supervisee. These include a supervisor’s skill in developing strong relationships that help the supervisee reach goals for supervision and a supervisor’s model and style of supervision. For example, contributing to a less-than-ideal relationship is a rigid, hierarchical style of supervision that could lead to anxiety, fear, and resentment in the supervisee. All of these variables may impact the success or failure of the relationship.
Ladany and Friedlander (1995) further suggest that role conflict and role ambiguity can be detrimental to a good supervisor-supervisee working alliance. Role conflict occurs when supervisees are expected to concurrently take part in roles that either conflict with each other or clash with the values of the supervisor. Graduate students are especially vulnerable to role conflict as they are sometimes inappropriately expected by supervisors to relate as colleagues. Role ambiguity occurs when supervisees are expected to discuss their weaknesses or characterological failings while at the same time being evaluated by a supervisor for their competency and fit for the profession. When these issues of role conflict and ambiguity are not openly addressed, the quality of the working alliance can be altered.
To prepare for this Discussion, review the Learning Resources and consider the essential elements that assist in establishing rapport with a supervisee. Might there be negative consequences to facilitating a good working alliance with supervisees? How might you avoid those consequences?
Write an imaginary scenario that illustrates role conflict, role ambiguity, or another pitfall of the supervisor-supervisee relationship. Provide details about the supervisor’s and supervisee’s roles and relationship for your colleagues to analyze.
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