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Women Reclaiming Our Physical Power
Teresa Enrico
September 30 or
October 1

September 17-23

What “Counseling with Supervision” and “Training Your Counselor” Mean

“Counseling with supervision” was a phrase first used to describe the special workshop called in October 1982 to determine the nature of the persisting difficulty in bringing counseling practice up to the levels of counseling theory. This led to the discovery and description of the “ancient habit” of keeping our attention on our old distresses all the time (even when we had agreed to be counselor) and the workable technique of the re-iterated decision to end the habit with discharge accompanying each repetition of the decision.

Since that time the term has come to mean a teaching method of having a counselor and client work with another experienced counselor present in the role of teacher or “supervisor” (often in front of a group). This supervisor intervenes as the session progresses to remind the counselor of important parts of theory where the counselor seems to need to be reminded, where mistakes are being made, or when obvious opportunities to counsel the client effectively are being missed. The goal in such a session is not primarily for the client to have a good session at that time but as a teaching period for the improvement of the skills of the counselor (which should lead to many good sessions for the client in the future).

For this to work well requires that the supervisor be alert and aware and understand the theory and not bring distress of his or her own to the session. Getting impatient or acting disgusted with the counselor’s mistakes does not help the counselor learn or improve at all. To be whole-heartedly rejecting of patterned mistakes on the part of the counselor in a cheerful, positive way, however, does help the counselor become aware of habits that are not contributing to the client’s re-emergence. It will often lead to the counselor discharging the distress which had acted to keep the counselor unaware of the mistaken practices.

It is helpful to review “the three things that every counselor needs to do to help the client discharge” in a “soliloquy” to the supervisor or to the workshop, class, or support group, if the action is taking place in such a group. The counselor steps out of the role of counselor temporarily and, turning to the supervisor/audience, says, “I will now pay enough attention to my client to see clearly what the distress is.” He or she then turns to the client, asks questions, pays attention, and then returns to the soliloquy to say, “I have now determined that the distress is the following....” He or she then lists the distress and says, “I will now think of all possible ways to contradict this distress.” Thinking out loud, he or she then lists the possible contradictions that he or she, as the counselor, has thought of. He or she then announces, “I will now contradict this distress sufficiently,” returns to the client and proceeds to apply the contradictions to elicit discharge.

In this process of speaking out and saying exactly what the counselor is aware of as to the needs of the situation and the clues from the client, mistakes or omissions are easily spotted and the supervisor’s intervention can lead to a very good learning situation.


A modified form of the “counseling with supervision” technique is called “training your own counselor.” This proceeds as before except that the client attempts to fill both the role of client and the role of supervisor. The client may ask, when the counselor begins to counsel, what are the three things any counselor must do and encourage the counselor to say out loud what he or she observes as the client’s distress, what contradictions he or she has been able to think of, and which ones he or she will put into effect.

The client leaves the client role and assumes the supervisor’s role any time that he or she is aware that the counselor is making a serious mistake or an omission, points it out, and then invites the counselor to resume the counseling. The client may even become counselor and counsel the counselor for short periods. Again, the object of this session is not primarily that the client have a good session, although this may sometimes happen, but to have a training session for improving the skills and awareness of the counselor.

Just incidentally, it’s a great contradiction to any discouragement or hopelessness the client may feel about his or her own re-emergence. If you have the tools for training your own counselor or improving your own counselor’s skills, there is very little justification for becoming discouraged, hopeless, or irresponsible about the counseling you receive. If you are not being counseled well, it’s simply up to you to train your own counselor better.

Harvey Jackins





Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00