Counseling Supervisors' Experiences Facilitating Supervisees' Cultural Competence

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Gary H. Bischof, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Stephen Craig, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michele McGrady, Ph.D.


Counseling, counselor education, cultural competence, cultural humility, supervision


A vital attribute of counselors to provide quality client care is cultural competence. Counseling supervisors are tasked to demonstrate cultural competence in supervisory interventions by aiding the supervisees in increasing their knowledge, awareness of attitudes and beliefs, and skills related to culturally sensitive practice. Although many professional organizations require counseling supervisors to provide culturally competent supervision, very few studies have examined how counseling supervisors demonstrate their skills. This qualitative Descriptive Phenomenological study explored the experiences of counseling supervisors when facilitating supervisees’ cultural competence.

Ten individual semi-structured interviews with counseling internship site supervisors were conducted to collect data about their experiences facilitating supervisees’ cultural competence. Four significant themes related to supervisors' attempts to improve supervisees’ cultural competency emerged from the interviews: Facilitating Factors, Inhibiting Factors, Specific Strategies and Approaches Utilized, and Aspirations and Future Directions. Within Facilitating Factors, supervisors spoke about their personal and professional growth, ability to provide information immediately, and desire for continued development. Supervisors also spoke about supervisee qualities and traits and having a supportive work environment as factors that fostered their ability to facilitate supervisees’ cultural competence.

Conversely, supervisors spoke about factors that inhibited their abilities to facilitate supervisees’ cultural competence. Inhibiting Factors included: a sense of pressure, duty, and obligation; negative supervisee responses; not knowing there is an issue; lacking confidence; and their personal background as a limitation. Supervisors discussed Specific Strategies and Approaches they have utilized when facilitating cultural competence. These strategies include using counseling theory and approaches, maintaining a stance of cultural humility, focusing on creating a safe environment, and other activities. Lastly, supervisors noted Aspirations and Future Directions regarding culturally competent supervision. Supervisors mentioned increasing diversity in their agency’s staff, experiencing less difficulty when engaging with supervisees, wanting more training opportunities, and increasing the availability of financial and time resources.

This research contributes to the field of counseling and supervision by providing insight into what supervisors experience and what factors are helpful and unhelpful as they strive to provide culturally competent supervision. The author identifies suggestions for future research and recommendations for training that counseling programs might provide to internship site supervisors to enhance culturally competent supervision.

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