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Narrative approaches in counselling supervision

This thesis is an account of a project that investigated the possibilities for counselling supervision offered by the philosophical positions that produce narrative approaches to counselling. Thus, the research was positioned as a social constructionist project. It drew on the work of five local counsellors who met together regularly over a year to engage in reflecting team supervision and to reflect on the practices thus produced. The project recognised, too, that local professional cultures have produced supervision in particular ways. Out of this project I have come to tell some supervision stories differently. Most recent mainstream approaches to counselling supervision construct supervision as a generic activity, and an activity that is best produced independently of particular metaphors of counselling practice. I argue that such approaches appear to be constrained by their inattention to the epistemology of practice. Aspects of dominant supervision discourse place an overriding emphasis on supervisor responsibility, producing an apparent dependence upon instrumental practice. When the emphasis is on supervisor responsibility, counsellors tend to be produced at the margins of the very activity that the profession constructs as critical to their effective and ethical counselling work with clients. In contrast, the focus of this analysis is on the possibilities for a supervision where responsibility is relationally exercised and dialogically produced, whether in dyadic supervision or in a professional community of concern such as offered by the reflecting team used in this study. The analysis demonstrates a shift to an understanding of supervision as having a moral and ethical focus: from asking the instrumental question, what to do with Client X? counsellors and supervisors ask what are the effects for practice of thinking this way? What are the effects for clients of practising these ways? With this shift, the discourses of counselling practice and the positions for counsellors within those discourses are available for rigorous investigation, with an emphasis on the politics of practice. I argue for a politics of supervision practice that responds to the location of supervision itself as a site of professional governance, and takes responsibility for the kinds of professional self the practices of supervision are called to produce. Professional truth claims, both those that construct supervision and those that construct counselling, are shown to be open for examination and negotiation in a constructionist supervision practice. In the dialogical examination and negotiation of professional truth claims in supervision, a storying counsellor professes the moral and ethical authority by which they produce their work. At the same time as it is a serious practice of ethical responsibility, supervision also depends, I propose, upon counsellors and supervisors taking up the imaginary. When we ask what counts as professional truth, when we ask how things might be otherwise than they are, we take supervision dialogue into other dimensions. When we take seriously our responsibilities to profess, to story our own professional identities in action, we generate also, I argue, possibilities for storying the pleasures of our counselling work. To take supervision talk into the domain of the imaginary and of pleasure, is to produce supervision otherwise.
Type of thesis
Crocket, K. (2001). Narrative approaches in counselling supervision (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13240
The University of Waikato
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