The Complexities of Power in Feminist Multicultural Psychotherapy Supervision

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Abstract

The goal of the present study was to understand how current feminist multicultural supervisors understand and implement their feminist multicultural principles into clinical supervision. We addressed this aim by answering the following research question: How do self-identified feminist multicultural psychotherapy supervisors conceptualize and practice feminist supervision that is explicitly multicultural? The perspectives of 14 participant supervisors were obtained by using semistructured initial interviews, follow-up interviews, and feedback interviews and were investigated via a feminist constructivist grounded theory design and analysis. Most participants identified as counseling psychologists (n = 12), women (n = 11) and temporarily able-bodied (n = 11); but they identified with diverse racial/ethnic, sexual, spiritual/religious, generational, and nationality statuses. A 7-category empirical framework emerged that explained how the participants anticipated and managed power in supervision. The core category, the complexities of power in supervision, explained how participants conceptualized power in supervisory relationships. The 6 remaining categories were bringing history into the supervision room, creating trust through openness and honesty, using a collaborative process, meeting shifting developmental (a)symmetries, cultivating critical reflexivity, and looking at and counterbalancing the impact of context. Limitations of the study, implications for research, and suggestions to use the theoretical framework to transform supervisory practice and training are discussed.

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