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The effect of supervisor and trainee therapist gender on supervision discourse

By Ed McHale and Alan Carr


The effects of supervisor and trainee therapist gender on supervision discourse were examined in this study. Forty episodes of supervision discourse, with ten drawn from each of four types of supervision systems were videotaped. The systems were (1) male supervisor and male trainee therapist; (2) male supervisor and female trainee therapist; (3) female supervisor and male trainee therapist; and (4) female supervisor and female trainee therapist. The episodes of supervision discourse were analysed using a supervision discourse coding system which showed adequate inter-rater reliability. For supervisors, the coding system allowed a directive discourse style and a collaborative discourse styled to be coded. A cooperative discourse style and a resistant discourse style could be coded for trainee therapists. Two statistically significant findings of considerable theoretical and clinical importance emerged. First, contrary to stereotypic expectations, discourse characterized by a directive supervision style and a resistant trainee therapist style was more common for systems containing a female supervisor than for those containing a male supervisor. Second, for same gender supervisor-trainee-therapist supervision systems, a collaborative systemic supervision style was correlated with both cooperative and resistant trainee therapist styles. This discourse pattern did not occur for opposite gender supervision systems, indicating that a collaborative supervision discourse style is consistently associated with trainee therapist participation (either cooperatively or resistantly) within same gender pairings of supervisors and trainee therapists. These results are discussed in light of relevant literature on gender, power and supervision process and the limitations of the study are considered

Topics: Family therapy, Supervision, Gender
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 1998
DOI identifier: 10.1111/1467-6427.00095
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