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Discursive dissonance: Critical reflexivity for counselling supervision

When practitioners and supervisors do not share the same counselling language or theoretical orientation, how is shared meaning achieved and relational connection sustained in supervision? How are differences in theoretical orientation negotiated in supervision in ways that open space for collaborative, generative dialogue and critical reflection on the politics of practice? In response to these questions, this thesis presents a critical, reflexive practitioner-inquiry exploring the possibilities and limitations a social constructionist and narrative approach to supervision makes possible for students learning apolitical, humanistic approaches to counselling. Positioned in theoretical landscapes of social constructionism, feminist poststructuralism and Narrative Therapy, this study is a reflection-in-action of a supervisor’s practice. Central to the study’s argument is discursive positioning theory; the associated concepts of relational identity, authorship and agency; and the self as a storying subject. Two student counsellors and two newly qualified counsellors, whose practice was shaped by structuralist, humanistic theories, and who were already engaged in supervision, participated in the study. Employing narrative practices of co-inquiry to generate data, a series of supervision sessions were recorded, reviewed individually by supervisor and practitioner/participant and later discussed in reflective/research meetings. Using a critically reflexive approach to discourse analysis, selected data-texts were explored for moments of discursive dissonance and moments of movement in practice development and professional identity. Research findings highlighted the need for explicit supervision working agreements, theoretical transparency, and encouragement by counsellor training/education providers for students to make fuller use of supervision as a critical learning space. It identifies three processes that might inform supervision when theoretical orientations are non-aligned. These are: supervision as critical reflexivity, supervision as a socio-political conversation, and supervision as a storying practice.
Type of thesis
Esler, I. (2011). Discursive dissonance: Critical reflexivity for counselling supervision (Thesis, Doctor of Education (EdD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5311
University of Waikato
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