Constructive Clinical Supervision in Counseling and Psychotherapy, by Douglas A. Guiffrida, New York, NY, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 2015, 164 pages, ISBN: 041570491X, paperback $52.95, hardcover $155, e-book $38.32.
Constructive Clinical Supervision in Counseling and Psychotherapy by Douglas Guiffrida is very different and a very interesting approach to clinical supervision. The author is a faculty member at the University of Rochester in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. This is significant in that he is not a social worker, and the approach is a completely different model from what I have used or observed as a clinical social worker.
The first two chapters of the six in the book describe in detail the history and use of constructivist theory in clinical work. The author then uses the remainder of the book to explain how the theory can be applied to clinical supervision. His detail and examples are thorough and compelling. He makes a strong case for this being the only way to supervise clinicians. He dedicates one entire chapter to activities a clinical supervisor can use to help develop supervisees through constructivist supervision. He emphasizes the importance of letting the supervisee come to his or her own conclusions and solutions, so the supervisee is growing as a clinician with each case experience.
Guiffrida recognizes that supervisees can sometimes find themselves “stuck” and demonstrates ways to help the supervisee become unstuck on a particular case, but also grow in depth and breadth in the experience as clinicians. One such activity is to participate in “metaphoric drawings” (page 77)—yes, art work—to help supervisees integrate all the data they have about a case, including but not limited to relationships, emotions, and cognitive information, to come to a new understanding about the case and perhaps a new understanding about themselves, as well.
After reading the book, I wondered why I had used any other model of supervision. The author makes a compelling case about the awareness that supervisees acquire through this approach and also talks about how difficult cases can become simplified and treatment options become clear when using it.
I must admit that I prefer primarily using cognitive behavioral approaches and did not think I would enjoy the book. I appreciated the refresher course on the theory and was compelled by the book’s examples and activities. I believe that using this approach could produce better clinicians in a shorter amount of time, benefitting the client and the clinician. This would be a good book for a second-year MSW course. It is a little heavy on the theory for an undergraduate class, but is a surprisingly helpful book.
Reviewed by Kelly Ward, Ph.D., LCSW, LCADC, MSW program director at Monmouth University School of Social Work. She regularly teaches a post-graduate CEU class on clinical supervision that is required in the State of New Jersey for those who want to supervise people who want to be clinical social workers.