Clinical Supervision of Mental Health Practitioners: A Phenomenological Study of Different Approaches in Arkansas

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Clinical supervision is the foundation of mental health practice for new professionals. Within this professional relationship, new professionals find training, guidance, and support in the first years of practice. The practice of clinical supervision embodies the spirit of servant leadership where experts invest in novices to develop successful practitioners with higher order theoretical and therapeutic skills. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of new counselors and social workers working within clinical supervision relationships. These two disciplines of mental health professionals work with similar clients often at the same practice sites but are guided by different best practices of clinical supervision. The chief differences are social workers obtain supervision from administrative supervisors at work, while counselors must contract for third-party supervision. The research questions focused on lived experiences within the supervisory relationships, perceptions of the developmental practice, and the meaning supervised professionals assigned to clinical supervision. The study employed a semi-structured interview to capture the rich experiences of the mental health professionals. Data from the study increased understanding of the meaning of clinical supervision and provided additional evidence to view clinical supervision through the lens of servant leadership.