Coming up for air: Supervisory perspectives and desires of a group of elementary school counselors

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Alan Goldberg


Counselors, Supervisory, Elementary school

Subject Categories

Student Counseling and Personnel Services


This study identified and examined the perspectives regarding supervision held by eight elementary school counselors, a rarely studied group, working in rural New York. Analysis was based on data obtained from transcripts of in-depth interviews and participant observation of monthly group meetings over the course of one academic semester. Participants met to discuss supervisory experiences and to work through a process of obtaining the supervision they desired.

Several key themes emerged which included: a conceptualization of supervision as encompassing content and process components. Counselors viewed the content of supervision as including counseling, managerial, and role-related aspects. The process component included receiving concrete advice, critical feedback, and opportunities for risk-based reflection. They also described the conditions necessary for supervision to occur which included ongoing, stable, trusting, and critical relationships.

Counselors identified job stressors and demands which impacted their conceptualization of supervision. These included: role overload, conflict, and ambiguity as well as work environment factors of isolation and job vulnerability. The issues which arose from participation in peer group supervision included themes of cohesion, safety, and leadership. While common group themes, these impacted their attempt to provide one another with the supervision they desired.

Questions are raised for future research on post-degree school counselor supervision and implications for the school counselor, training, and the practice of supervision are offered.


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