Developing a theory of power in the clinical supervisory relationship
Murphy, Megan Jayne
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This dissertation constitutes the development of a grounded theory of power within clinical supervisory relationships. Elements of three theories and a review of clinical literature form the conceptual foundation for this effort. Semi-structured interviews of eleven supervisees in an AAMFT-accredited training program provided data upon which the theory was grounded. In analysis of interview transcripts three themes emerged: structure, individual characteristics, and power use. Structure consists of pre-existing factors that serve to determine the amount of power relationship participants had, such as supervision arrangements, the presence of learning, supervisors relationships, and dual relationships. Individual characteristics consist of attributes of supervisors and supervisees that influence power, such as personality, age, and amount of experience. Power use consists of how supervisors and supervisees use power in the supervisory relationship. Power uses by supervisors included collaboration, empowerment of supervisees, perspectives and assessment, imposition of style/orientations, safety, expectations of supervisees, call-ins, favoritism, and supervisors’ misuse of power. Power uses by supervisees included withholding information, supervisee-peer power, supervisees as consumers, and supervisees’ abuse of power. Implications for relationships between themes were explored and suggestions for future research also are presented. Further research on power in the supervisory relationship is needed, from supervisors’ perspectives, and in different supervisory settings. Implications for researchers and clinicians/supervisors are discussed and suggestions for future research also are presented.