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Peer Supervision for School Counselors

By Nancy Chae | May 2024

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As practicing school counselors, whom can we reliably turn to for feedback and support when we encounter ethical dilemmas, want to consult about an inquiry from a parent or require resources to support a student in crisis? Answer: our school counseling peers!

Despite the known benefits of school counselor supervision – such as increased self-efficacy, reduced burnout and enhanced skill development – practicing school counselors often do not receive supervision from a person with a school counseling background or supervision training, due to lack of access, time or opportunities. To address students’ academic, social/emotional and postsecondary development both individually and systemically, school counselors need access to consistent and effective supervision to strengthen their competence and receive ongoing feedback about potential gaps in their work.

Thus, the Collegial, Competent, and Consultative (CCC) supervision approach can be a practical and resourceful way to access school counselor supervision, where school counselors and leaders can leverage already available networks within schools or districts to learn from and support their fellow school counseling colleagues. As a peer-based approach, CCC supervision is collaborative in nature and promotes:
  • personal and professional growth for school counselors
  • reflection, conceptual knowledge and counseling skill development
  • feedback to inform practice and lifelong learning
Moreover, peer supervision provides a sense of accountability in delivering best practices to students and stakeholders and an experience of community for colleagues to nonjudgmentally support one another to enhance their counseling skills.

What is CCC supervision?

The first C, collegial, refers to school counselors’ presence with their colleagues to facilitate a collaborative, nonhierarchical supervisory relationship. The second C, competent, refers to the knowledge, awareness and skills that school counselors have about their professional roles and responsibilities, including (but not limited to) knowledge of students’ needs within a school/district, understanding comprehensive school counseling programming, applying counseling theories and skills in culturally responsive ways and considering ethical and legal practices. The third C, consultative, refers to how school counselors intervene with, provide feedback to, and guide reflection with peers to support and challenge one another during supervision. Below are strategies for engaging in CCC supervision with school counseling peers in your school, district or professional learning communities.

Ways of Being Collegial

  • Develop a supervision contract that reflects group norms and goals for the supervision experience. Articulate the rights and responsibilities of peers during supervision, agree upon norms about how constructive feedback can be delivered and received, and determine the length and frequency of supervision meetings.
  • Set the tone for each supervision meeting with check-ins, such as reflecting on highs and lows of the week, engaging in a mindfulness activity or asking friendly icebreaker questions.
  • Reflect upon prior supervision experiences (such as what went well or did not go well in supervision) to inform peer supervision meetings and prioritize how cultural considerations will be acknowledged throughout the supervision process.

Ways of Being Competent

  • Consider utilizing tools, such as the ASCA School Counselor Professional Standards and Competencies and Multicultural Competence Checklist (Holcomb-McCoy, 2004), to self-assess current strengths and receive feedback about areas needing further development. With these tools, engage in dialogue about supporting each other’s understanding of school counseling programming and social-justice-focused practices to advocate for students and stakeholders.
  • Practice broaching cultural identities with peers in supervision and provide feedback about conceptualizing and broaching ethical and multicultural issues with students, families and school counseling supervisees.
  • Share ongoing professional development opportunities, training, readings, resources, curricular and psychoeducational materials and legislative updates to support and enhance each other’s competence as school counselors.

Ways of Being Consultative

  • Develop a brief agenda of issues/topics to be explored during the supervision session so that colleagues are prepared to engage in discussion and share relevant resources, strategies, interventions, and tools to support one another.
  • Share and review curricular materials or audio/video recordings of classroom instruction, group and individual counseling plans and presentations for parents/guardians or community members to seek constructive feedback on performance and specific areas needing attention.
  • Utilize foundational active listening skills when consulting about specific issues/topics to foster critical reflection, such as posing open-ended questions that support yet challenge peers’ perspectives, asking probing questions for clarification and in-depth reflection, paraphrasing or summarizing received feedback and highlighting observed strengths before presenting areas of needed improvement.
The CCC supervision approach is a practical and informally evaluative process that promotes collaboration and supports colleagues’ strengths and development. To advocate for peer-based supervision, consider speaking with your administrators and district-level leaders to form pairings, triads, or small groups of novice and experienced school counselors who can benefit from such learning opportunities. Logistically, such supervision can take place within a school or district, in partnership with nearby districts, or in-person or virtually, too. The availability of meaningful, consistent and cost-effective peer-based supervision can sustain school counseling practice, foster professional growth and empower fellow colleagues and future practitioners that enter the school counseling field.

For more on the CCC supervision approach, see the original article in Professional School Counseling.

Nancy Chae, Ph.D., LCPC, NCC, NCSC, is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Marital and Family Therapy at the University of San Diego.