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In this section reference will be made to:

1.  Criteria for individual counseling

2.  Criteria for group counseling

In order to improve counselor performance it is necessary to observe their work and provide feedback regarding the quality of the counseling activity. While counselors may resist such observation, it is imperative to know what is going on that constitutes “treatment”. The supervisor must establish a relationship of trust with each counselor. Without the collaborative, cooperative relationship, the feedback from the observation will not be effective. It is suggested that the relationship must be established and time devoted to establishing the relationship before the observations begin.

The supervisor should discuss the observation well in advance of the date scheduled for that observation. Allow the counselor to pick the time and activity for the initial observation. This allows the counselor to feel comfortable and perform at their highest level. The idea is to catch the counselor doing their best work; not their areas of weakness. As the counselor develops confidence in the supervisor’s ability to provide feedback, he/she will ask for observation in areas in which they have concerns about their work. When this type relationship is established and the counselor begins to appreciate the feedback and assistance in developing improved skills, the model is working as planned.

Observations can be in person when the supervisor sits in the room as group is conducted or when the counselor is doing an individual session or an assessment. Observations can also be very effective when video equipment is used so that the activity is recorded and can be reviewed by the counselor, the supervisor or together.

There is value in reviewing a video tape and picking particular areas of excellent performance. Counselors tend to respond positively when they receive compliments and positive feedback for their work. By asking questions about specific areas of the session, the counselor learns to assess his/her own performance. It is important to reinforce the performance that represents excellence and know the method of presenting areas of concern in a manner in which criticism is minimized. Counselors seem to be self critical and often are aware of areas of challenge in the performance of their work. Allowing them to assess their performance, from a review of a video, of their work is valuable.

Observations can be made with audio tapes as well. While this type of observation misses the visual that is often so important, it is a worthwhile method of assessing performance.  This likewise offers the opportunity for the supervisor and counselor to review the work independently or together.

1/1/09 Version

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