Supervision, Culture, and Relationship: Examining Supervisor Cultural Competence and the Working Alliance

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Virginia Tech


In the counseling profession, clinical supervision is utilized to facilitate the personal and professional development of counselors in training (Bernard and Goodyear, 2014). Within this supervisory relationship, supervisors must adhere to the 2015 ACA Code of Ethics, which describes the need for infusing cultural competence into both counseling and supervision practices. This emphasis is warranted; as the population of the United States is growing more diverse and cultural sensitivity in counseling will be needed in order to best serve clients. Both qualitative and quantitative research in various allied fields and settings suggest that supervisor cultural competence positively impacts the supervision working alliance (i.e., Ladany, Brittan-Powell and Pannu, 1997; Ancis and Marshall, 2010; Wong, Wong and Ishiyama, 2013). However, research conducted from the perspective of supervisors working in community settings is limited. This study sampled 78 community supervisors to address the dearth in the counselor education literature concerning the relationships between supervisor cultural competence and the working alliance. Results indicated an overall positively correlated relationship between supervisor multicultural competence and the working alliance. Additionally, the results suggested that supervisor cultural knowledge and supervisor cultural skills are the greatest predictors of a strong working alliance, while supervisor multicultural relationship and supervisor multicultural awareness accounted for some additional variance. The results support the trend away from a competency-based model of cultural sensitivity and attention in counseling and toward a model of cultural humility.



supervision, cultural humility, cultural competence, working alliance