A grounded theory of feminist supervision: A qualitative study

Anne Margaret Prouty, Purdue University


The main purpose of this exploratory and descriptive study was to answer the question: what is feminist supervision in marriage and family therapy? The researcher investigated how feminist marriage and family therapy supervisors conceptualized the goals and purpose of supervision, how they constructed the supervisory relationship, and what feminist family therapy supervisors actually did in supervision. This study also assessed how therapists experienced feminist supervision and the supervision relationship.^ This study employed qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with eight supervisors and eight therapists and four videotapes of live supervision sessions. The researcher incorporated feedback about her interpretations from the participants as well as from a feminist interpretive team.^ The results of this study provide a preliminary theory of feminist supervision grounded in the participants' experiences. They emphasized four themes: feminist ideas, the supervisor-therapist relationship, supervision methods, and the empowerment of the therapist.^ The participants identified feminist ideas related to gender, power, diversity, and emotion. Supervisors also employed several techniques to foster the supervisor-therapist relationship. Supervision methods utilized by the supervisors fell into four categories: contracting, hierarchy, collaboration, and mentorship. The use of these methods was mediated by the developmental level of the therapists and the supervisor's clinical decisions. Most important, the purpose of feminist supervision was to empower the therapists by encouraging the development of competence and professional identity.^ The four themes are practical and applicable. The results are intended to provide a foundation upon which a richer and more complex framework of feminist supervision can be built. Suggestions for further research are provided. ^




Major Professor: Volker K. Thomas, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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