Ashford University Sociology Essay

  • Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.
  • Read the following:Social Work Supervision Through a Relational-Cultural Theoretical Lens (pp. 45–60, 104–117, 126–136), by Lisa Eible (2015).Client System Assessment Tools for Social Work Practice by Jane Wenger Clemons (2014).Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Assessment? Teaching the Skill of Spiritual Assessment by Julie Hunt (2014).

  • When completing the SCRIPT please make sure that there is a social worker dialogue and client dialogue, back and forth conversation.
  • Please make sure ALL QUESTIONS below are addressed in the case study dialogue
  • Before the role-play, do the following:Decide how you will demonstrate engagement and other therapeutic skills utilizing relational therapy?Create assessment questions that you plan to ask the client based on the case. You can use parts of an assessment tool or refer to an assessment tool (be careful of time limitations).Read the file Treatment Planning and decide how you will collaborate with the client to plan the treatment goals and objectives.How will you handle disruptions, transference, and countertransference during the role play?How will you ensure that the client’s human rights are advanced, and how will you demonstrate this during the role play?How will you start the role play based on the last session?As the social worker in the role play, be sure that the following are covered during the role play: Demonstrate the use of relational therapy in engaging with the client.Apply advanced clinical skills in multidimensional assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of psychosocial dysfunction or impairment, including emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders, conditions, and addictions.Demonstrate components of developing a treatment plan (goals and objectives) in collaboration with the client.End the session by asking the client how she/he is feeling about your work together so far, and about the treatment plan that was developed. Consider how to best end a session with the client. What do you say and why? University of Pennsylvania
    Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) Dissertations
    School of Social Policy and Practice
    Spring 5-19-2015
    Social Work Supervision Through a Relational-Cultural Theoretical
    Lisa Eible
    Follow this and additional works at:
    Part of the Social Work Commons
    Recommended Citation
    Eible, Lisa, “Social Work Supervision Through a Relational-Cultural Theoretical Lens” (2015). Doctorate in
    Social Work (DSW) Dissertations. 60.
    This paper is posted at ScholarlyCommons.
    For more information, please contact
    Social Work Supervision Through a Relational-Cultural Theoretical Lens
    The following is a comprehensive literature review accompanied by a theoretical/conceptual article
    related to social work supervision and Relational-Cultural Theory (RTC). The project reviews the
    foundational principles of social work supervision, Relational-Cultural Theory, and cultural competence in
    social work. The project explores the application of RCT to social work supervision, inclusive of issues
    faced related to racial and cultural differences. Particular attention is paid to understanding the unique
    attributes and challenges faced in agency-based social work supervision.
    Degree Type
    Degree Name
    Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
    First Advisor
    Marcia Martin, Ph.D.
    Second Advisor
    Judith Jordan, Ph.D.
    Relational-Cultural Theory, Social Work Supervision, Cultural Competence
    Subject Categories
    Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work
    This dissertation is available at ScholarlyCommons:
    Social Work Supervision Through a Relational-Cultural Theoretical Lens
    Lisa Eible
    Social Work
    Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania
    Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
    Degree of Doctor of Social Work
    Marcia Martin, Ph.D.
    Dissertation Chair
    John L. Jackson, Jr.
    Dean, School of Social Policy and Practice
    Dissertation Committee
    Judith Jordan, Ph.D.
    Marcia Martin, Ph.D.
    Sidney, you are more than I thought possible. Thank you for choosing me. There are no words
    of gratitude for all you have done to make my dreams come true.
    Carol, in continued gratitude for a Relational-Cultural partnership. I would know nothing about
    RCT without the experience of you.
    I would like to thank my family: Sidney, Jesse, and Jada. Your patience, perspective, belief in
    me and my capacity has meant more than you can ever know. I appreciate all the ways you have
    acknowledged and celebrated my achievements, and I am deeply grateful for your support,
    patience, and continued love during my doctoral work.
    Special thanks to Wanda Cooper and Jack Lewis, and the social work team at LIFE UPenn (past
    and present), who have provided ongoing, much needed support and encouragement, and without
    whom I may have given up doctoral work completely!
    Judith Jordan, your life’s work, RCT, has impacted my life profoundly, and continues to shape
    my thinking and perspective. It has been the deepest honor to work with you, and to have been a
    part of expanding the application of RCT in some small way.
    Marcia Martin, I could not have asked for more in a dissertation chair. You have been focused,
    supportive, clear, available, understanding of the balance of practice and theory, and supportive
    of real life balances of family, work and school. I have so appreciated the experience of working
    through this dissertation with you.
    Table of Contents
    Project Overview…………………………………………………………………..7
    Literature Review: A Literature Review of Social Work Supervision, Relational Cultural
    Theory and Cultural Competence
    Social Work Supervision…………………………………………………….……12
    Relational-Cultural Theory……………………………..………………………..28
    Cultural Competence…………………………………………………………….39
    Application of Relational-Cultural Theory to Social Work Practice and
    Literature Review Conclusion ……………………………………….………….68
    Accompanying Paper: An Application of Relational-Cultural Theory to Social Work
    Literature Review…………………………………………………………………86
    Application of Relational-Cultural Theory to Social Work Practice and
    Agency Related Challenges…………………………………………………….118
    Additional Considerations for Application of RCT to Social Work
    Practice Implications for Social Work Supervision…………………….……….128
    A Framework for Supervision: An RCT “Working With” Model ……………..135
    Project Abstract: The following is a comprehensive literature review accompanied by a
    theoretical/conceptual article related to social work supervision and Relational-Cultural Theory
    (RTC). The project reviews the foundational principles of social work supervision, RelationalCultural Theory, and cultural competence in social work. The project explores the application of
    RCT to social work supervision, inclusive of issues faced related to racial and cultural
    differences. Particular attention is paid to understanding the unique attributes and challenges
    faced in agency-based social work supervision.
    Project Overview
    The following literature review and accompanying paper will examine the topic of social
    work supervision through the lens of Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) with the intention of
    answering the following research question: How does Relational-Cultural Theory apply to and
    strengthen social work supervision and the supervisory relationship? This paper will address the
    gaps in literature and theory by exploring contemporary themes of supervision through RCT’s
    feminist lens, inclusive of cultural competence issues. Staff social work supervision in
    contemporary agency settings will be highlighted, including medical and behavioral health
    agencies which have faced numerous structural and fiscal changes in recent years. The project
    will explore staff social work supervision in contemporary agency settings, such as medical and
    behavioral health agencies, which have faced numerous structural and fiscal changes in recent
    years. The focus will be on supervision in agencies where social work services are provided and
    will include an examination of the types of supervisory functions, including but not limited to,
    clinical functions. Bogo and McKnight (2006) point out the lack of recent literature regarding
    social work supervision and comment that supervision literature, practice, and research is not
    building. They hypothesize that the absence of social work supervision literature is likely linked
    to hospital/agency cost-cutting practices, lack of reimbursement for social work services, and
    agency or department downsizing and re-organization (Bogo & McKnight, 2006). The literature
    review and subsequent paper that comprise this study seek to further social work supervision
    theory through the application of a lens which offers unique considerations for understanding
    relationship, power, and emotional growth.
    It is proposed that RCT provides a significantly unexplored application to social work
    supervision theory. RCT provides a framework for understanding social work supervision
    through a feminist lens which carefully considers the impact of race and culture, components
    which are not solidly found in traditional social work supervision literature. The intersection of
    the two concept areas provides a direction for contemporary social work supervision in social
    work agencies. For the purposes of this study, a social worker is designated as someone who
    holds a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited graduate program (as opposed to
    master’s degrees in other related disciplines). The focus is on supervision in agencies where
    social work services are provided and will include an examination of the types of supervisory
    functions, including, but not limited to, clinical functions. An examination of the literature in the
    areas of social work supervision theory, RCT, and cultural competence theory will provide the
    backdrop for the development of an RCT-informed theoretical approach to supervision.
    Two papers are included in this dissertation. The format is the University of
    Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice-approved “One article-length paper
    accompanied by a critical review of the literature” (Penn School of Social Policy & Practice,
    2013, para. 6). The first paper is a formal literature review that examines the following areas:

    history of social work supervision;

    social work staff supervision theory;

    RCT and its application to social work agency settings; and

    cultural competence theory.
    The second theoretical/conceptual paper will provide an overview of social work
    supervision and will apply RCT to specific supervision themes. The proposed second paper
    includes the following components:

    brief overview of social work supervision;

    brief overview of RCT;

    application of RCT to social work supervision, inclusive of cultural competence themes;

    practice implications for social work supervision, which will include a vignette based on
    practice experience.

    proposal for a new conceptual framework of social work supervision: A “working with”
    model(as opposed to more traditional “working over” or “working for” models of
    It is proposed in this paper that RCT provides an unexplored application to social work
    supervision theory. Specifically, RCT potentially provides a strong framework for
    understanding social work supervision through a feminist lens which carefully considers the
    impact of race and culture as significant components of supervision which are not solidly found
    in traditional social work supervision literature, but are hallmarks of social work practice. The
    intersection of the two concept areas – social work supervision and race and culture – provides a
    direction for contemporary social work supervision in social work agencies. Such an approach is
    perfectly aligned with social work’s core values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of
    the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence. (Workers, 2008).
    Abstract: The following literature review was undertaken to explore the intersection between
    social work supervision and Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT). Historical and contemporary
    social work supervision theories, approaches and empirical data are examined as is relevant
    theoretical and empirical components of Relational-Cultural Theory. Cultural competence
    literature is also reviewed and deepens the understanding of supervision and RCT. The literature
    review lays the groundwork for a new model of social work supervision in agencies, which
    embodies a “working with” approach.
    The following literature review will examine social work supervision through the lens of
    Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) with the intention of answering the following research
    question: How does Relational-Cultural Theory apply to and strengthen social work supervision
    and the supervisory relationship? The literature review includes an examination of the literature
    in three main areas: social work supervision, Relational-Cultural Theory, and cultural
    competence. A historical framework and theoretical overview for each area provides a context
    for understanding contemporary perspectives and modern day applications.
    The formal literature review was conducted in 2012-2013 using the following search
    terms: “social work supervision” and “social work and cultural competence”. Search engines
    utilized included google scholar, JSTOR, and Scopus, using search dates 2002-2012. The same
    search engines were utilized to search “Relational-Cultural Theory” but without date limitations,
    Additional literature was selected from earlier dates as appropriate or recommended. The Jean
    Baker Miller Training Institute website was used as both a direct reference, and for the
    identification of additional resources, including the “works in progress” papers.
    Social Work Supervision Theory and RCT
    Social work supervision has existed since the profession’s beginnings in the United States
    (Tsui, 2005). In the last 50 years, strong theoretical frameworks for supervision have been
    provided by several social work leaders, including Munson, Shulman, and Kadushin. Despite
    this extensive, albeit rather general, focus, there are significant un- or underexplored components
    of supervision and the supervisory process. Specifically, relational qualities grounded in
    emerging feminist theory and issues related to cultural competence have not been sufficiently
    explored in the literature to date.
    RCT provides a modern theoretical perspective through which social work supervision
    can be viewed. RCT is focused on the relational quality of experiences, the healing and work
    done within such experiences, and the prospect for future relational growth. Further, proponents
    of RCT recognize the impact of race and culture in relational experiences and demonstrate a
    willingness to examine these often difficult areas. RCT posits that growth-producing
    relationships result in additional growth-producing relationships. In light of this proposition, it
    makes sense that the social work supervision experience should be a central growth-producing
    experience in social work practice, and that attention to supervision experiences would result in
    enhanced effectiveness with clients.
    This literature review includes an examination of the critical literature in three main
    areas: social work supervision, Relational-Cultural Theory, and cultural competence. Such a
    review provides a context for understanding contemporary perspectives and modern day
    applications. It is proposed that a comprehensive literature review which explores supervision
    research and theory with an emphasis on the application of RCT, including features related to
    cultural differences and cultural competence, will further contemporary social work supervision
    theory and practice.
    What is Social Work Supervision?
    The definition of social work supervision has evolved to what appears to be general
    agreement in the literature that there are three basic functions of social work supervision:
    educational functions, supportive functions, and administrative functions (Kadushin & Harkness,
    2002; Munson, 2002; Shulman, 1993). Educational supervision focuses on improving
    supervisees’ knowledge and skills through developing greater self-awareness (Barker, 1995;
    Munson, 2002; Bogo & McKnight, 2006) as well as direct teaching about all aspects of social
    work, including practice with the client, the team, the professional environment, and the relevant
    political and social systems (American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work, 2004).
    Supportive supervision provides encouragement, reassurance, and autonomy (Kadushin &
    Harkness, 2002) in an attempt to maintain social workers’ morale and job satisfaction (Bogo &
    McKnight, 2006). Administrative supervision includes the overseeing of cases, monitoring of
    assessments, intervention planning, and ongoing work to assist social workers in implementing
    agency policies and procedures and working within the structure of the agency (Bogo &
    McNight, 2008; Shulman, 1993). Bogo and McKnight (2008) note that administrative
    supervision is designed to ensure the public that competent practice and effective service is
    delivered. Finally, administrative supervision involves evaluation of work performance,
    including career advancement and salary considerations (Gibelman & Schervish, 1997).
    Several authors note the distinction between agency-based social work supervision which
    includes educational, supportive, and administrative functions, and clinical social work
    supervision which emphasizes educational and supportive supervision and is less likely to focus
    on administrative functions. Bogo and McKnight (2006), in their review of the definition of
    social work supervision, point out this emerging distinction between agency supervision and
    clinical supervision:
    Gibelman and Schervish (1997) . . . defined clinical supervision as not necessarily
    agency-based or concerned with practice in an agency context. Rather, clinical
    supervision focuses on the dynamics of the client situation and the social worker’s
    interventions. Hence it is more likely to include only educational and supportive
    features. (p. 52).
    The focus in this paper will be on agency-based social work supervision, inclusive of
    clinical, educational, and administrative features. It is proposed that the features of agency work
    include additional supervisory concerns and elements which may not be present in “pure”
    clinical supervision, especially when considered in a private practice context. Bogo and
    McKnight (2006) note that the “supervision of workers is provided to ensure that services to
    clients are offered in an effective and efficient manner. When educational and supportive
    functions are provided, they are in the service of this broader goal” (p. 50). It is proposed that
    the unique features of agency supervision, including agency agendas and politics, agency stress
    and function/dysfunction, and the role of the social work supervisor as a middle manager, bring
    unique relational challenges which call for updated theoretical attention.
    Historical Overview of Social Work Supervision
    It is important to discuss the history of social work supervision in order to demonstrate
    the relative consistency of social work supervision theory over time and to provide justification
    for a new social work supervision model which is more didactic in nature. The development of
    social work supervision as a practice in and of itself led to the simultaneous emergence of social
    work supervision theory. This section will trace the first documented roots of formalized
    supervision at the Milford Conference in 1929, explore the attitudes and theory surrounding
    social work supervision since that time, and provide a framework for contemporary social work
    supervision which is more inclusive of RCT themes of mutual exchange, mutual growth, and
    mutual impact (Kadushin and Harkness, 2002; Shulman, 2010; Jordan, 2009),
    Early History of Social Work Supervision. At the 1929 Milford Conference, the role
    of supervision was formalized for the first time (Munson, 1979). The conference also served to
    further the rigor of supervision, and consensus was reached regarding supervisory functions:
    “We believe in general that the supervision of a staff should be conceived of as having two
    functions: first, to keep the work of the agency up to the standard it has set for itself, and second,
    to promote the professional development of the staff” (as cited in Munson, 1979, p. 33).
    The educational focus for social work education and practice was further established
    when field work originally required students to receive supervision from a member of the
    American Association of Social Workers (Raskin, 2005).
    Tsui (2005) notes that in the 1920s and 1930s, with the rise of psychoanalytic theory,
    supervision practices shifted. Interest and application of psychoanalytic theory, and in particular
    the unconscious, resulted in supervisory sessions becoming similar to analytic sessions, where
    the social worker was expected to share personal thoughts, feelings and experiences, and the role
    of the supervisor was to analyze both the worker and the client. This shift laid the groundwork
    for further exploration in supervision of themes related to use of self and parallel process in
    which the supervisory relationship has many of the same features as the social worker-client
    relationship (Tsui, 2005). For example, a 1935 paper from Dorothy Hutchinson demonstrates the
    beginnings of thoughts related to social workers’ own self-awareness and the use of self in the
    supervisory relationship. It is in the “freedom” of the relationship, Hutchinson maintains, where
    growth occurs for both the supervisor and supervisee:
    The supervisor-worker relationship should be a growing, dynamic one in which each is
    free. The supervisor is essentially a leader and a teacher of workers and does not impose
    herself or her ideas on the worker. She assumes responsibility for the worker in that it is
    her job to attend to the worker’s thoughts and feelings and how these impact the worker client relationship. (As cited in Munson, 1979, p. 37).
    Midcentury History: 1940-1970. In the 1940s and 1950s, questions began emerging
    regarding the need for ongoing and continuous social work supervision (Austin, 1942; Bacock,
    195; Schour, 1951; as cited in Tsui, 2005). Tsui (2005) notes that with the establishment of the
    National Association of Social Workers in 1956, social work became further professionalized.
    With such professionalization, there were two developments; first, some advocated autonomous
    practice, noting the absence of an ongoing need for social work supervision once the social
    worker had a master’s in social work and two to six years of supervised experience (Tsui, 2005);
    and second, the development of the Council on Social Work Education in the 1950s the
    requirement that supervisors for social work students needed to be trained field instructors.
    (Raskin, 2005 in Bogo and McNight, 2008, p. 50).
    The theme of the quality of the relationship between supervisor and supervisee, raised by
    Hutchinson in 1935, continued to emerge more fully in the 1950s. In a 1953 publication,
    Elizabeth Zetzel compared the supervisor-supervisee relationship to the client-worker
    relationship, and noted that there were educational and therapeutic processes at play in both (as
    cited in Munson, 1979). While the parallel to the client relationship in terms of insight was
    noted earlier by Hutchinson, Zetzel’ s work represented a shift and closer alignment with the
    analytic trend of the time. Thus, psychoanalysis had a particular impact on the social work
    practice of supervision.
    Munson (1971) maintains that the 1950s and 1960s saw a shift in the foci of social work
    supervision. There was a movement from supervision as a type of therapeutic dyad, to
    supervision seeking to “clarify, consolidate, and coordinate” teaching and administrative
    functions (Munson, 1971, p. 54). Scherz (1970) asserts that the role of the supervisor is an
    administrative one, both in the teaching and in fulfilling agency responsibilities. She maintains
    that the previous expectations of supervisors knowing and monitoring details of worker
    caseloads are no longer possible or desirable; the worker is responsible for the caseload and the
    supervisor is available to support, train and advise. Scherz also proposes an evaluation role of
    the supervisor (1970 as cited in Munson, 1971).
    Tsui (2005) notes that it was in the mid-1960s when the difference between staff
    supervision and student supervision was noted with regard to concept, methodology, and
    practice. (p.4). In 1963, Stiles acknowledged a controversy in social work supervision, namely,
    the model of perpetual supervision, in which workers became dependent on supervisors. This
    was thought to resemble psychoanalysis and some believed it limited the personal development
    of workers. Stiles (1963) outlined an administrative role for supervisors. In this role, supervisors
    assumed a liaison responsibility between workers and clients, agency leadership, and groups of
    clients, and as a link to the external community. In this role, the primary function of the
    supervisor was to ensure that high quality services were delivered to clients.
    Social Work Supervision Theory 1970-2000. Prevalent themes in social work
    supervision theory from 1970 to 2000 included the discussion of the multiple roles of worker and
    supervisor in the context of an agency. Awareness developed of social workers and their
    supervisors not only as providers of service, but also as communicators of policy.
    During the 1970s, the emergence of a new definition of social work supervision and the
    roles of supervisors permeated the literature thereafter, defined by Kadushin (1976) as follows:
    A social work supervisor is an agency administrative staff member to whom authority is
    delegated to direct, coordinate, enhance, and evaluate on-the-job performance of the
    supervisee for whose work he is held accountable. In implementing this responsibility
    the supervisor performs administrative, educational, and supportive functions in
    interaction with the supervisee in the context of a positive relationship. The supervisor’s
    ultimate objective is to deliver to the agency clients the best possible services, both
    quantitatively and qualitatively, in accordance with agency policies and procedures.
    (Kadushin, 1976)
    Literature during this time period also focused on the “training up” of social workers to
    become supervisors. The changing definition of social work supervision as discussed in the
    Encyclopedia of Social Work from 1965 to 1987 also reflected the multiple roles in supervision:
    In 1965, social work (supervision) was still defined as an educational process; however,
    in the following three editions, the definitions were more administratively oriented
    (Encyclopedia of Social Work, 1965, 1971, 1977, 1987). For example, the 1987 edition
    states that the new emphasis on the managerial functions of supervision reflects that an
    organic integration of the administrative and educational foci of supervision is crucial to
    enhancing the quality and productivity of human service organizations. (Tsui, 2005, p. 89).
    The administrative focus of social work supervision and practice which emerged in the 1960’s
    has become a cornerstone of contemporary agency practice.
    Contemporary Social Work Supervision Theory. After 2000, supervision theory
    reflected an emphasis on inclusion of relational components in supervision. While the purpose
    of supervision remained twofold: (a) to foster the supervisee’s professional development, and (b)
    to ensure client welfare (Bernard and Goodyear, 2014), the quality of the supervisory
    relationship was seen as the mechanism for achieving the desired results. Additionally, there
    was recognition that changes in the world have impacted social work practice and social work
    supervision, including technological advances, funding changes which impact agencies and
    methods of practice, and changing client demographics. As a result, there has been a greater
    awareness that the agency has a role in the supervisory relationship; and issues of diversity and
    cultural competence in both client-worker and supervisor-supervisee relationships are informed
    by social work’s understanding of cultural competence. The rationale for quality supervision is
    the continued social work practice goal of providing high quality services to clients. Specific
    components of supervision will be examined in this section, including parallel process,
    supervisee expectation, and the co-development of a supervisory relationship and the impact of
    external factors on supervision.
    Parallel Process. To achieve the intended clinical outcomes, the literature reflects
    continued understanding that some of what may be occurring in the supervisory process reflects
    what is occurring between social worker and client. The notion of a simultaneous reflective
    process in supervision which mirrors the client experience with the social worker was first noted
    by Searles (1955) but later was further developed by Ekstein and Wallerstein (1958) who
    coined the concept “parallel process” which became a standard concept in social work
    supervision theory (Miller and Twomey,1999; Ganzer and Ornstein, 2004; Goldstein, E., Miehls,
    D., & Ringell, S., 2009; Shulman,1993). Shulman (2010) argues that parallel process is central
    to the supervisory process, and that the skills and responsiveness demonstrated within the context
    of the supervisory relationship can potentially model what should ideally occur between social
    workers and their clients.
    Supervisee Expectations. Supervision theory has generally derived from the perspectives of
    supervisors and the voice of the supervisee was not prevalent until relatively recently. The
    contemporary supervision literature reflects greater concern with the supervisee experience.
    What are the components of supervision most valued by supervisees? Bruce and Austin (2001)
    identified the following components in the literature, which contribute to a satisfactory social
    work supervision experience: “(1) when the agency provides a supportive and clearly understood
    work environment; (2) when supervisors exercise leadership and authority based on competence
    and position; and (3) when workers feel supported by their supervisors” (p. 87-88).
    Bogo and McNight (2006) note:
    Supervisors are prized who (a) are available, (b) are knowledgeable about tasks and skills
    and can relate these techniques to theory, (c) hold practice perspectives and expectations
    about service delivery similar to the supervisee’s, (d) provide support and encourage
    professional growth, (e) delegate responsibility to supervisees who can do the task, (f)
    serve as a professional role model, and (g) communicate in a mutual and interactive
    supervisory style (Bogo and McNight, 2006, p. 59).
    Toward a Co-Developed Supervisory Relationship. It appears that recent literature on
    supervision has become more egalitarian in nature (Brookfield, 2005; Noble & Irwin, 2009).
    Literature suggests a movement from the supervisor-expert/supervisee-learner dynamic of
    traditional supervision to a co-developed relationship. Perhaps the most influential
    contemporary social work supervision theory is Shulman’s theory of “interactional supervision”
    (Shulman, 1978;. Shulman, Robinson, & Luckyj, 1981;Shulman, 1993; Shulman, 1984, 1991,
    2010). In the most recent edition of his classic Interactional Supervision textbook, Shulman
    (2010) outlines the theory of “interactional supervision” which includes five components:
    1. an interactional process in which the worker plays an active part in influencing the
    behavior of the supervisor and the outcome of the process.
    2. common or constant elements across settings, disciplines, populations, and problems.
    3. universal dynamics and skills that apply to different modes of interactions, including
    individual and group supervision.
    4. parallels between supervision and other helping relationships.
    5. supervisor-supervisee working relationship as the medium through which a
    supervisor can partially influence the outcomes of practice. (p. 12)
    Harkness (1997) notes, in one study of the impact of interactional supervision, that supervisors
    support social workers in supervision specifically through empathy and problem solving skills.
    He defines empathy in supervision as “sensing workers’ feelings and understanding their
    frustrations,” and notes that problem solving includes a “ firm grasp of policy and procedure in
    the agency, sorting out and examining workers’ concerns, and offering suggestions for
    consideration” (Harkness, 1997, p. 48).
    A movement to a more egalitarian stance is consistent with the influence of feminism and
    the movement to raise awareness and reduce power differentials. The ability of supervisee and
    supervisor to participate equally and authentically in the supervisory relationship and the quality
    of the supervisory relationship is directly related to the quality of services provided and
    consistent with feminist approaches such as RCT (Jordan, Hartling, & Walker, 2004). Miehls
    (2010) discusses the movement from traditional supervision theories which have their basis in
    psychoanalytic roots and include such notions as parallel process. He maintains that social work
    supervision theory has shifted to be more informed by relational and trauma theories, which
    focus on mutuality, growth, and healing and occur within a co-created partnership between
    clinician and client.
    Flexible Supervision Styles. The contemporary literature also reflects a movement toward a
    more flexible supervisory style, based on the needs of the individual worker. Bernard describes
    a model of supervision called “The Discrimination Model” which outlines specific foci on which
    supervisors might concentrate, and identifies roles supervisors might adapt [or do you mean
    adopt – either would work], based on supervisee strengths and challenges and the goals of
    supervision. (Bernard 1979, 1997: Bernard and Goodyear, 2014). Bernard and Goodyear (2014)
    define foci as the areas to which supervisors attend based on the supervisee and include the

    Intervention – what the supervisee is doing in the session that is observable by the
    supervisor, what skill levels are being demonstrate, how well counseling interventions are
    delivered, and so on

    Conceptualization – how the supervises understands what is occurring in the session,
    identifies patterns, or choose interventions, all of which are covert processes

    Personalization – how their supervises interfaces a personal style with counseling at the
    same time that he or she attempts to keep counseling uncontaminated by personal issues
    and countertransference responses (2014, p. 52).
    Bernard and Goodyear (2014) define the roles that emerge when a supervisor has determined
    supervisee abilities as a means of achieving clinical goals.

    Teacher – a role assumed when their supervisor believes that the supervisee needs
    structure and includes instruction modeling, and giving direct feedback

    Counselor – a role assumed when the supervisor wishes to enhance the supervisee
    reflexivity, especially about their internal reality rather than cognitions

    Consultant – a more collegial role assumed when the supervisor wishes for supervisees to
    trust their own insights and feelings about their work, or when the supervisor believes it
    is important to challenge supervisees to think and act on their own (Bernard and
    Goodyear, 2014, p. 52).
    Beyond the Supervisory Dyad: External Factors Impacting Supervision. Another theme
    in the contemporary literature on supervision concerns the recognition of the external players in
    the supervisory relationship. When considering the supervisory relationship, Tsui (2005)
    examines the work of Holloway and Brager (1989), who assert that while the supervisory
    relationship is typically seen as being between the supervisor and supervisee, in fact, the
    supervisory relationship is actually a four part relationship that also includes the agency and
    client. Tsui (2005) asserts that consideration of all four components calls for wider examination
    of the supervisory context to include agency environmental considerations and proposes a model
    where the effectiveness of supervision is dependent on the following factors:

    the relationships among the individual parties (the agency, the supervisor, the supervisee,
    and the client);

    the contract, format, and development stages of the supervisory process;

    the balance among the various supervisory functions; and

    the relationship between the features of supervision and the culture of the external
    The impact and presence of the social work agency in the supervision experience can be
    significant. Social work supervision is increasingly seen by many as a vehicle to achieve the
    agency’s function and mission, asserting the agency’s authority, and often offering the agency
    legal protection, rather than as a conduit for developing the supervisee professionally. The
    literature reflects how the agency impacts the relational role of supervision, and how supervision
    remains a microcosm of agency and external stratifications. Noble and Irwin (2009) state that
    the supervisory relationship is a “living metaphor” (p. 355) for the worker/client,
    worker/organization, and worker/community relationships of power.
    Furthermore, economic conditions have always had an impact on social work practice
    (e.g., Great Depression, War on Poverty). Contemporary social work researchers (e.g., Bruce &
    Austin, 2000; Nobel & Irwin, 2009) note that current economic conditions and changes in recent
    decades that have led to these conditions, have actually changed social work supervision itself.
    Specifically, the growing complexity of social service work, the presence and impact of managed
    care, the move toward privatization of services, the reduced public monies, the changes in client
    demographics and economics, and the burgeoning amount of information now available through
    technology have all shaped agency practice and supervision within agencies (Bruce & Austin,
    2000; Nobel & Irwin, 2009). Some (e.g., Adams, 2007) note that in the current climate, agency
    priorities have superseded the supervision values of knowledge and skill development, and
    many agencies now have fewer supervisors supporting more supervisees while being provided
    with less time to carry out the associated responsibilities.
    Distinguishing Clinical Supervision
    A full analysis of clinical supervision is beyond the scope of this paper. However, an
    outline of working definitions is required for purposes of clarity. The traditional definitions of
    “clinical supervision” have largely focused on the support and instruction of social workers in
    settings with a focus on mental health issues and treatment. The clinical licensure is traditionally
    seen as a “therapeutic” license. I espouse a broader concept of clinical social work.
    The use of clinical skills is required in many practice settings that do not, as their primary
    function, provide psychotherapy (for example, health or social welfare settings). However, it is
    proposed that there are a unique set of clinical skills required to provide social work services in
    these settings. Health settings, for example, require a skill set that is indeed clinical;
    understanding and integrating a biopsychosocial approach, working with clients and their
    families, working with teams, achieving goal-directed results; all are just a few examples of
    complex social work activities which require an advanced clinical skill set.
    What then, is modern clinical supervision? Munson defines clinical supervision as “the
    interactional process in which a supervisor has been assigned or designated to assist in and direct
    the practice of supervisees in the areas of teaching, administration, and helping” (Munson, 2002,
    p. 10). Clinical supervision is a combination of a complex clinical skill set: from the individual
    worker case consultation, teaching/encouraging/supporting clinical theory applications and
    approaches, ensuring the presence of evidence based practice, writing and implementing policy
    and procedures, and managing a department within the context of a larger (often non-host)
    agency. Munson also notes that, “In modern practice, the emphasis on task-centered, short term,
    research focused practice has made the distinction between activity and practice paramount in
    supervision” (Munson, 2002, p. 7). The supervisor in modern settings has a broad practice,
    which includes many responsibilities beyond direct social work supervision. For example, the
    supervisor may also have responsibility for workers from other disciplines. In many settings, the
    supervisor is a highly visible position, and, in some cases, may even be the agency leader. It is
    maintained that supervision work is most definitely clinical, even when the setting is not a
    mental health/psychotherapy oriented one.
    Additionally, in many states, clinical licensure is highly desired or required. Considered
    the “advanced” license, the clinical license indicates educational achievement as well as a depth
    of experience which includes supervised hours of practice. Clinical licensure supports the formal
    structure of social work supervision, with requirements related to the hours and type of
    supervision received, identified as prerequisites for obtaining the clinical social work license.
    Licensure requirements vary state to state, but generally all include specific work components
    and supervision hours. In Pennsylvania, for example, clinical licensure applicants must have
    completed 3 years or 3000 hours of “supervised clinical experience….after completing the
    Master’s Degree in Social Work” (PA State Board of Social Workers, 2011). Further, the
    supervision must include hours in individual supervision, and the areas of work must include
    assessment, psychotherapy, consultation, family therapy, group therapy, or other psychosocial
    therapeutic interventions (PA State Board of Social Workers, 2011). As clinical licensure
    requires a supervised experience, there remains value in attention to supervision quality.
    Empirical Research on Social Work Supervision
    The following provides an overview of empirical research related to social work
    supervision. Tsui (2005) reports the results of an extensive literature review on social work
    supervision. Searching for empirical literature on social work supervision from 1950 to 2002, he
    found 34 studies that focused on social workers in human service organizations. He notes that
    the studies found “can be divided into three categories: basic descriptive studies, studies on
    supervisory issues, and studies on client outcomes” (Tsui, 2005, p. 139). Further, he notes that
    qualitative research methods were rarely used, and that “there is a strong need for researchers to
    conduct qualitative studies that explore the functioning of social work supervision in various
    cultural contexts” (Tsui, 2005, p. 141).
    Further, Tsui (2005) found that of the 34 studies, 16 involved the supervisor and
    supervisee (but only one actually focused on the supervisor and supervisee dyad itself), eight
    focused on the supervisor, nine on the supervisee, and only one focused on client outcomes.
    Bogo and McKnight (2006) note that a study relevant to contemporary social work supervision
    themes was Hensley’s (2002) qualitative doctoral study of (N = 20) social workers’ views of cure
    and their own experiences in personal therapy and supervision. Bogo and McKnight (2006) note
    that the results of this study point to the influential nature of the supervisory relationship as
    perceived as central to healing, and the findings included the numerous ways in which the
    participating social workers had positively experienced supervision: skill development, often
    related to theory; professional growth and support; role-modeling of professional and personal
    qualities; and mutuality through an interactive supervisory relationship (Bogo & McKnight,
    2006, p. 58).
    Harkness and Hensley (1991) researched different styles of supervision and the impact on
    client satisfaction. They found that client satisfaction was greater when the focus of supervision
    was more particularly on client problems and issues. “The findings suggest that social work
    supervision affects clients, and that client satisfaction improves if supervisors ask questions
    about client problems and staff interventions in the context of client outcomes” (Harkness &
    Hensley, 1991, p. 506)
    Finally, Tsui notes that none of the reviewed studies examined the role of culture in the
    supervision experience. Bogo and McKnight found four supervision studies that included
    cultural competence themes, but only one specifically focused on the perceived cultural
    competence of the supervisor. Surprisingly, this study revealed that “there was no difference
    between Hispanic and non-Hispanic supervisors in respondents’ perceptions of supervisors’
    application of conventional approaches to supervision and use of parallel process” (Bogo &
    McNight, 2006, p. 57).
    Why is the research on social work supervision so limited? In addition to the economic
    issues cited previously, perhaps the difficulty in studying the complex supervisor–supervisee
    relationship is also a factor. Tsui (1997) writes the following:
    As there is a hierarchical power relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee, it
    may well be an extremely delicate and difficult task to elicit information about the
    supervisory performance of the supervisor, and the job performance of the supervisee,
    within the organizational setting. These difficulties may explain why there is less
    research on staff supervision than on student supervision in the social work field. (p. 40)
    Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT)
    RCT, a feminist theoretical and practice approach has continued to gain ground in
    therapeutic settings since its introduction in the 1980s. While making a significant contribution
    to psychological theory and therapeutic practice, the application of the model to a variety of
    settings and populations is a still a work in progress. This paper will explore the model and its
    components and apply it to social work supervision. It is proposed that the model is well-suited
    for social work supervision, but that there are additional unique features of supervision that
    require further development of the theoretical integration between RCT and supervision.
    History of the Relational-Cultural Model
    In 1976, psychiatrist Jean Baker Miller published a groundbreaking book, Toward a New
    Psychology of Women, which spoke to the unique power of relationship and of women’s
    experiences in relationships and in the world. In it, she notes that, with all their strengths and
    challenges and despite their substantial influence in people’s lives, relationships had not been
    given proper attention in traditional psychological theory. Thus, she hypothesized that the focus
    on relationships and one’s experience in relationships was devalued in the world, in personal
    experience, and certainly in psychological theory and practice. Such devaluation has profound
    consequences on individuals and their corresponding ability to maintain healthy relationships
    which are at the core of emotional health.
    In the 1970s, Miller—together with Judith Jordan, Irene Stiver, and Janet Surrey—began
    meeting and further exploring relational themes. Their work resulted in the founding of the
    Stone Center at Wellesley College, which grew into a center for feminist thinking, development
    of theory, and practice of the model. Initially called self-in-relation theory, the approach
    morphed to the relational-cultural model to reflect convictions that culture acted as a premier
    component of the relationship. Frey (2013) pointed out that RCT is different from
    traditional psychodynamic theory due to its feminist perspective, focus on social justice, and
    relationships as central to human development, but has similarities to contemporary
    psychodynamic approaches with regard to process. (p. 178). Frey notes that RCT fits with the
    feminist counseling principles outlined by Enns (2004):
    (a) privileging client perspectives and lived experiences and viewing clients as capable
    collaborators in moving toward strength-based change;
    (b) emphasizing an egalitarian client-counselor relationship, along with a concurrent
    awareness of the impact of power differentials related to the counselor and client roles;
    (c) valuing diversity, with an emphasis on exploring the complexity of intersecting social
    and cultural identities and therapist self-reflection regarding personal privilege and its
    impact on the counseling process and relationship;
    (d) modeling and fostering personal, interpersonal, and sociopolitical empowerment
    (Morrow & Hawxhurst, 1998); and
    (e) focusing on change rather than adjustment as the goal of counseling, with an emphasis
    on the overlap between personal issues and broader sociopolitical and socioeconomic
    considerations (see Enns, 2004, pp. 19–42 for a discussion of all principles). (Enns 2004
    as cited in Frey 2013, p.177)
    The Stone Center for Developmental Services and Studies was established in 1981 at
    Wellesley College, with Jean Baker Miller as the Director. In 1995, the Jean Baker Miller
    Training Institute was created from a merger of the Stone Center and Wellesley Center for
    Research on Women and was named for Miller in honor of her profound impact on the model
    (“Our History”, JBMTI, 2014).The work has continued to grow through the contributions of the
    remaining original group members as well as through many others who have seen the relevancy
    of the approach. The institute now has over 100 works in direct publication, many in the form of
    “works in progress” papers, numerous books, and has been cited in over 6,500 publications
    (Impact, JBMTI, n.d., para. 2).
    Overview of RCT
    RCT focuses on the quality of human relationships; the relationship is seen as the source of
    healthy emotional growth. RCT maintains the following premises:

    traditional psychological models do not match women’s (human) experience;

    the goal of development is to become engaged in growth-fostering relationships;

    relatedness and connectedness are critical components to healthy development;

    the value of relationships is often minimized in traditional theories, and women are made
    to feel ashamed of efforts/focus on emotional connections(“The Development of
    Relational-Cultural Theory, JBMTI, n.d. )
    Themes of connection and disconnection are at the center of the model. The approach maintains
    that human beings are wired to move in the direction of connection and growth-producing
    relationships. However, this is not always possible and disconnection can result. The
    consequences of disconnection are emotional pain, isolation, and damaged trust, and such
    disconnection can impact one’s ability to move forward in other relationships. The goal of all
    human development, it is maintained, is to develop connected, growth-producing relationships as
    connected relationships lead to more connected relationships. Miller, in Toward a New
    Psychology of Women (1976), identifies five good things that come from connected, growthproducing relationships:

    a sense of zest that comes from connecting with another person;

    the ability and motivation to take action in the relationship, as well as in other

    increased knowledge of oneself and the other person;

    an increased sense of worth; and

    a desire for more connections beyond the particular one.
    The relational-cultural model focuses on the experience of relationship and the impact
    that relationships, especially close relationships, have on development and on one’s life
    experience. Experiences in previous relationships shape and impact one’s current relationships.
    Past relationships and the growth, pain, or isolation experienced within them, result in “relational
    images” which then are carried forth to other relationships. The model focuses on concepts of
    connection and disconnection. The analysis of disconnection, and achieving or re-achieving
    connection, are at the center of therapeutic work. Central to therapeutic work are the behaviors
    and attitude of the therapist, which serve as a model for relational experiences. RCT proposes
    that individuals and groups “are most productive and creative when we can bring ourselves
    authentically and fully into relationships and interactions” (Jordan & Romney, 2005, p. 203).
    Cultural privilege also contributes to the societal and experiential value of relationships.
    In the United States, those with cultural privilege can appear more self-sufficient, healthier, and
    more worthy of privilege, while conversely, those who have less cultural privilege are viewed as
    deficient and needy (McIntosh, 1988; McIntosh, 1990). The impact on individuals who lack
    cultural privilege and may have a different experience, background, or approach, is an
    experience of feeling “less than” or “different from.” RCT challenges traditional Euro-American
    values and proposes multiple ways of being valued, emphasizing that our relational experiences
    are far more impactful than societal messaging. Jordan (2004) notes that “the story of our
    preoccupation with self-sufficiency and autonomy is largely the story of our woundedness, the
    extent to which the cultural standards of development have warped our natural search for safe
    and growth-enhancing connection” (p. 48).
    Key themes. The relational-cultural approach has several key themes that drive
    theoretical perspective and practice. The definitions of the themes most applicable to this study
    are as follows:

    Mutuality: Respect and openness to change and responsiveness. Mutuality is not the
    same as equality (Jordan & Walker; as cited in Jordan et al., 2004).

    Authenticity: The capacity to fully represent oneself in a relationship; to bring one’s real
    experiences, thoughts, and feelings into the relationship (“Glossary of Relational-Cultural
    Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..).

    Relational images: The collection of ideas and experiences we have about relationships,
    based on past relationships (“Glossary of Relational-Cultural Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..).

    Shame: When one feels that he/she is no longer worthy of empathy or love (“Glossary of
    Relational-Cultural Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..).

    Connection: The experience of a relationship that is characterized by mutual empathy and
    mutual empowerment. This involves emotional accessibility (“Glossary of RelationalCultural Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..).

    Disconnection: The experience of a ruptured relationship, which may include hurt,
    disappointment, violation (“Glossary of Relational-Cultural Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..).

    Empathy: A complex affective-cognitive skill that allows us to “know” (resonate, feel,
    sense, cognitively grasp) another person’s experience. (“Glossary of Relational-Cultural
    Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..).

    Humiliation: An experience where one is made to feel unworthy of connection, placed in
    a “power under” position, where one experiences feelings of devaluation and disgrace
    (Hartling, Rosen, Walker, & Jordan; as cited in in Jordan et al., 2004).

    Mutual involvement: Speaks to the need to receive support from others and the
    participation in one another’s growth. Mutual involvement is not the same as
    dependency (Jordan, 2004).
    RCT also focuses on “instrumental myths”, which are the ideas that we have as a result of our
    socialization, and that represent our idealized ways of being which prioritize separation and
    competition, and minimize the value of relational ways of being. These instrumental myths
    include the following:

    myth of unilateral change (in an interaction, the less powerful person is changed);

    myth that hierarchy and ranking produces incentives and that people assume their places
    based on virtue or merit;

    myth that power over others creates safety;

    myth that rational engagement is superior to and at odds with emotional responsiveness.
    (Jordan in Jordan, et al., 2004).
    The model speaks of “relational flow”, which is the movement in relationships; the cycle of
    connection, observance of, attention to, and repair of disconnection, and movement back to
    connection. When one experiences that reconnection is possible, self-esteem remains intact, one
    can be authentic in the relationship, and trust is built to move into other relationships.
    Another concept of central importance in RCT is that of “central relational paradox”, a
    concept which speaks to the yearning for relationship which is accompanied by fear and previous
    experiences that lead individuals to behave in a manner which keeps them out of the relationship.
    RCT notes that such behaviors are protective strategies of disconnection and acknowledges how
    they become strategies of survival. The paradox is that, “The individual alters herself or himself
    to fit in with the expectations and wishes of the other person, and in the process, the relationship
    itself loses authenticity and mutuality, becoming another source of disconnection” (“Our Work”,
    JBMTI, JBMTI, n.d..).
    Relational Goals, Relational Awareness and Relational Competence. In our pursuit of
    connected relationships, we strive for growth fostering relationships, and ultimately relational
    competence. Features of such relationships include openness to influence, emotional
    availability, mutual respect and responsiveness. “Relational awareness” is the ability of the
    clinician to participate relationally in the therapeutic experience. Relational awareness involves
    self-awareness regarding one’s own patterns of connection and disconnection, the ability to
    transform flow from disconnection to connection, “being present” with another person and
    oneself and maintaining an attitude of openness. (Jordan in Jordan et al., 2004). Judith Jordan
    writes that, “Relational awareness allows people to address imbalances, pains, and failures of
    mutuality before they become too big, before impasses develop” (Jordan in Jordan et al., 2004, p.
    60). On the continuum of relational work, relational competence is the goal. Relational
    competence is demonstrated when there are the following attributes in the relationship:

    movement toward mutuality and empathy

    openness to influence

    connection as a priority

    anticipatory empathy, noticing and caring about our impact on others;

    relational curiosity

    experiencing vulnerability (Jordan in Jordan et al., 2004).
    Characteristics of the Relational-Cultural Clinician. In Relational-Cultural therapy, the
    primary role of the therapist is to facilitate “movement” in the relationship. Movement is the
    ability to help the client move from experiences of disconnection to experiences of connection,
    mutuality and authenticity. This is primarily accomplished through therapeutic authenticity,
    where the therapist stays with the thoughts and feelings occurring in the relationship and
    movement toward connection. RCT identifies characteristics that are required for effective
    Relational-Cultural therapy, which include: expertise in disconnection

    openness to relationship


    quality of presence


    protection of vulnerability

    statement of one’s own limits, not limits on client (Miller, Jordan, Stiver, Walker, Surrey
    & Eldridge, in Jordan, Walker & Hartling, 2004, p. 64-89).
    When the therapist exhibits these traits in the clinical encounter, the client experiences
    connection and empowerment, and is then able to move toward connection in other relationships.
    RCT Understanding of Power
    RCT provides a language and conceptual construction to understanding power and its
    impact on relationships. An RCT approach to supervision would include an understanding of
    power in the supervisory relationship and acknowledge and understand the impact of power on
    the quality of the relationship. This is particularly important when there are racial or cultural
    differences between supervisor and supervisee. Theoretical concepts of power continue to
    develop but remain a central premise of RCT and are applicable to social work supervision. A
    brief literature review related to the RCT-informed concept of power follows in this section.
    Power, within the scope of RCT, is defined as the “capacity to produce a change” (Miller,
    1968, p. 198). The theory makes a distinction between “power over,” which is exercised by
    those with privilege and serves to maintain such privilege through the oppression of others, and
    “power with,” which is the embracement of collaborative efforts that promote creativity, action
    and growth (“Glossary of Relational-Cultural Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..). Walker (2008) points out
    that in American culture, the definition of power has morphed into “power over” where there are
    “‘winners’ who attain the social ranking and material accoutrements that signify value” (p. 130).
    Walker makes the case that “power over” arrangements transform into an accepted hierarchical
    paradigm where the subordinate voices are marginalized. Miller (as cited in Walker, 2008) notes
    that traditional understandings of power are deceptive, as they can appear individualistically
    achieved but are really the results of entire systems of support which are invisible. Those in
    society who do not have such supports are seen as “‘less than,’ less competent, less capable, less
    committed” (Walker 2008, p. 135). Further, Walker (2008) notes that what has been perceived
    as women’s discomfort with power has been attributed to women’s inadequacies, but might
    actually be seen as women’s discomfort with “the flaws of the dominant paradigm” (p. 132) and
    the perception that “power over” comes with relational consequences which may be inconsistent
    with women’s values. This is not simple work. Walker (2010) spoke to RCT’s unsteady
    approach in understanding and exploring themes related to power, stating that “RelationalCultural Theory has grappled with issues of power. I consciously use the word grapple because
    it connotes collective struggle, political risk, and interpersonal discomfort” (p. 131). However,
    Walker went on to note, “To disavow power is not an option. The option is to choose how to
    relate to and through the power that one has” (2010, p. 133).
    RCT Research
    A full analysis of RCT-related research is beyond the scope of the proposed project, but it
    is worth noting that studies have found that RCT provides a lens through which themes of
    isolation, disconnection/distress, and depression can be understood. In addition, there is growing
    evidence that RCT approaches facilitate emotional healing. For example, several studies have
    shown that relational quality is related to improved self-esteem and decreased feelings of
    loneliness (Liang, Tracy, Taylor, & Williams 2002); improved relational quality leads to
    decreased psychological distress (Frey, Tobin, & Beesley, 2004); and improved relational quality
    provides the opportunity for relational repair throughout the lifetime (Frey, Beesley, & Miller,
    2006). Spencer, Jordan, and Sazama (2004) studied youth relationships with important adults in
    diverse settings and found that “mutuality, respect, authenticity and active engagements are core
    characteristics of positive relationships” (as cited in Frey, 2013, p. 180). Studies related to eating
    disorders have also validated the RCT framework (Sanftner et al., 2006; Sanftner, Ryan, &
    Pierce 2009, Sanftner, Tantillo, & Seidlitz, 2004), as have studies related to women’s adjustment
    to cancer (Kayser, Sormanti, & Strainchamps, 1999; Sormanti, Kayser, & Strainchamps, 1997)
    and work with at-risk mothers and their infants (Paris & Dubus, 2005; Paris, Gemborys,
    Kaufman, & Whitehill, 2007). Two studies have focused on RCT as a therapeutic intervention.
    Firstly, Oakley, Addison, and Piran (2004) examined RCT therapy experiences and found
    significant improvements between pre- and posttests measuring depression, anxiety,
    psychological well-being, and self-esteem. These outcomes were sustained at the 3- and 6month follow-up. Secondly, Tantillo and Sanftner (2003) compared outcomes of a cognitive
    behavior therapy group to RCT groups and found equal clinical outcomes; however, group
    members perceived higher levels of group mutuality in the RCT cohort.
    There are a few studies related to RCT and non-client relationships. Schwartz and
    Holloway (2012) studied 10 matched pairs of recent master’s alumi and their professors, who
    described having meaningful academic relationships. The authors found that these relationships
    were “forces for growth and forward movement” and that the participants “discussed feeling
    energized by their connections, boosts in self-esteem, increased knowledge, movement or the
    ability to take action, and desire for more connection” (Schwartz & Holloway, 2012, p. 131).
    The authors note these themes are supported in RCT theoretical literature (Swartz & Holloway,
    2012). In addition, Mangione et al. (2011) conducted one of the only studies relating RCT to
    supervision. Their small qualitative study (N = 8) examined psychology supervisor–supervisee
    dyads and focused on the themes of collaboration, authenticity, power, hierarchy, and reflexivity
    as they related perceptions of supervision quality. Findings included the following: perceived
    satisfaction with supervision when reflexivity and authenticity were present, little formal
    acknowledgement of power differentials but an awareness and comfort with the established
    roles, the influence of feminism on supervision (authenticity, openness) and collaboration as a
    valued component of supervision (Mangione et al., 2011). While this study has application to
    social work settings and social work supervision, it is proposed that there are significant
    differences between the experiences of these psychology students who were providing individual
    therapy and their academic supervisors, and the type of supervision provided by social workers
    in agencies which the environment and work are complicated by agency issues, politics, and
    agendas. That said, the study provides a beginning framework for RCT and social work agency
    Cultural Competence
    Contemporary social work supervision theory includes acknowledgment and valuation of
    cultural differences. Demographic and cultural differences add unique complexity to all
    relationships, including supervisory relationships. The following will explore social work’s
    ongoing understanding of culture and its application to social work supervision.
    What is Cultural Competence?
    The term “culture” was first used by Tylor in 1871 to refer “to a complex whole that
    includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, customs, and other capabilities and habits acquired
    by a member of society” (as cited in Tsui 2005, p. 45). Tsui (2005) defined culture as an abstract
    concept that includes “a shared system of concepts or mental representations, established by
    convention and reproduced by transmission” (p. 45).
    According to the Encyclopedia of Social Work, cultural competence in social work is “the
    capacity to function effectively as a helper in the context of cultural differences” (Cross, 2007 as
    cited in Cross, 2008, p. 2). Cross, Bazron, Dennis, and Isaacs (1989) have defined cultural
    competence at the organizational and systems level as “a set of congruent policies, structures,
    procedures, and practices that together enable and empower social work service providers to
    work effectively in cross-cultural situations” (para. 2). Additionally Derald Wing Sue (2006)
    defined cultural competence as “the ability to engage in actions or create conditions that
    maximize the optimal development of client and client systems” (p. 29). A progression in
    thinking regarding social work and culture has occurred. Lum (2007) described the progression
    to culturally competent practice as including ethnic sensitivity, cultural awareness, and cultural
    Specifically, Cross (2008) proposed five conditions for the development of culturally
    competent practices: “(a) awareness and acceptance of difference, (b) cultural self-awareness, (c)
    understanding the dynamics of difference, (d) developing cultural knowledge, and (e) adaptation
    of practice skills to fit the cultural context of the client” (p. 8). Sue (2006) defined culturally
    competent social work practice as:
    the service provider’s acquisition of awareness, knowledge and skills needed to function
    effectively in a pluralistic democratic society (ability to communicate, interact, negotiate
    and intervene on behalf of clients from diverse backgrounds), and on an
    organizational/societal level, advocating effectively to develop new theories, practices,
    policies and organizational structures that are responsive to all groups. (p. 29)
    Further, Sue (2006) described cultural competence as occurring in three major domains:
    a) the attitudes/beliefs component – an understanding of one’s own cultural conditioning
    that affects the beliefs, values and attitudes of a culturally diverse population;
    b) the knowledge component – understanding and knowledge of the worldviews of
    culturally diverse individuals and groups; and
    c) the skills component – an ability to determine and use culturally appropriate
    intervention strategies when working with different groups in our society. (pp. 29–30)
    Cultural Competence and Supervision
    The late 1960s and 1970s saw recognition of the importance of understanding and
    acknowledging racial differences between social worker and client. This perspective continued
    through the mid-1980s, in which a few articles examined the role of race and culture in social
    work supervision (e.g., Ryan & Hendricks, 1989). Tsui (2005) stresses that “social work
    supervision is a part of a complex theoretical and professional value system and service network
    situation inside a particular culture. Therefore, it can only be understood as a part of the cultural
    context of the participants” (p. 46). What follows is an examination of the empirical research
    related to cultural competence and social work supervision, including the complex theme of
    racial and cultural differences between supervisor and supervisee. It is proposed that the impact
    of race and culture on the supervisory relationship is woven within and throughout any
    discussion of relationship between supervisor and supervisee.
    History of Cultural Competence in Social Work Supervision
    From Multiculturalism to Cultural Competence. It took a long time for the field of
    social work and supervision to acknowledge that archetypes about particular groups might be
    used to understand behavior, traditions, and patterns of interactions. The literature alludes to
    themes of difference or unique practice required for particular groups beginning in the late
    1960s. This type of thought developed into the multicultural movement in the 1970s that
    continued throughout the 1990s. The focus on culturally competent social work practice began
    from around 2000 and continues to the present (Cross, 2008).
    The concept of cultural competence is relatively new to social work, though there is a
    history of focus on areas of difference, particularly racial and ethnic differences. Culturally
    competent social work has been evolving, leading to the ideas of competency that exist today.
    Cross (2008) outlines a history of cultural competence as beginning in the 1950s and 1960s with
    the civil rights movements, the War on Poverty and the Great Society programs. He notes that
    through these efforts into the 1970s and 1980s, broad educational initiatives within social work,
    which had previously been primarily all-white endeavors, began to include diversity. Further,
    Cross (2008) maintains that while there were newly educated social workers of color, they, too,
    noted that their education lacked training specific to working with diverse populations. Lastly,
    Cross (2008) indicates that what began in the 1970s as an effort to include education regarding
    specific ethnic groups, later became “cultural competence” with specific and defined educational
    and professional development goals. Currently, the Council on Social Work Education has
    standards related to social work practice and diversity. The 2008 guidelines indicate the
    Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and
    is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the
    intersectionality of multiple factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity,
    gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion,
    sex, and sexual orientation. Social workers appreciate that, as a consequence of difference, a
    person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as
    well as privilege, power, and acclaim. Social workers

    recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress,
    marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power;

    gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values
    in working with diverse groups;

    recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in
    shaping life experiences; and

    view themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants.
    (Council on Social Work Education, Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards,
    2008, p. 4-5. Retrieved April 15, 2014 from
    Empirical Data Related to Culture and Social Work Supervision. A 1989 article by
    Harkness and Poertner outlines a specific research agenda for social work supervision. They
    proposed that such an agenda includes three major components: a reconceptualization of
    supervision which would include differing operational definitions; supervision theory informed
    by observation and analysis of behavior; and, measurement of client outcomes (Harkness &
    Poertner, 1989). Still, in 2005, Tsui notes that culture in supervision continued to be neglected in
    social work supervision research. Tsui notes the dearth of empirical studies in this area and
    observes that “the important question of how to practice supervision in a specific culture in a
    multicultural setting has not been addressed in any of the published empirical literature” (2005,
    p. 47).
    The empirical literature that exists is dated and largely focused on student-field instructor
    supervision. The following section will examine a few relevant studies in this area, which may
    have application to professional social work supervision.
    Cultural Competence and Social Work Supervision Research. There appears to be
    very little in the social work literature regarding social work staff supervision, as most of the
    literature relates to student supervision. Cultural competence and social work student supervision
    first appears in the social work literature in the 1980s.
    Muriel Gladstein and Mildred Mailick
    (1986) published some of the earliest work related to cultural competence in social work
    supervision. While their focus was on the needs and experiences of minority social work
    students in their field placements, their observations may be applicable to the professional
    supervisory relationship as well. The authors outline specific attributes that characterize
    culturally competent field instruction practice and consider how these features play into the
    needs and expectations of both field instructors and students. Specific cultural styles and
    features may require knowledge and interpretation from the field instructor. For example, the
    authors note that Asian students may have expectations of field instructors that include the
    provision of specific and critical feedback and the provision of specific direction (Gladstein &
    Mailick, 1986). Students from other cultural groups may demonstrate cultural norms that
    include deference to superiors, avoidance of seeking help, and hiding parts of their own cultural
    experience, which may create challenges to learning in the social work field experience, where
    “American” learning styles prioritize active learning styles and include frequent and direct
    communication, a more egalitarian didactic, and a use of one’s authentic self in supervision.
    Further, McRoy, Freeman, Logan and Blackmon (1986) focused on culture in
    supervision. They indicate that “little attention has been given to cross-cultural issues in social
    work supervision. This may be due to our limited knowledge about cross-cultural client/worker
    relationships and our lack of understanding about the effects of race on power relationships in
    supervision” (McRoy et al., 1986, pp. 50-51). Additionally, they focus on the implications of
    racial differences between student and field instructor, and conducted an exploratory study on the
    issue. The authors examined 42 field instructor-student dyads in which there were racial or
    cultural differences within the partnerships. While the authors found little evidence of actual
    problems in the dyad, there was significant concern from both parties related to potential issues,
    and that when issues arose, there was reluctance to explore them through a cultural lens:
    Since the field instructor’s role is perceived as particularly powerful by both students and
    instructors, there appears to be a tendency for students to retreat from open discussions
    about actual or potential cultural conflicts with either field instructors or clients. Despite
    the fact that most students perceived their field instructors as sensitive to cultural
    differences, they still displayed reluctance to confront them with problems.” (McRoy et
    al., 1986, p.55)
    It is likely true that such reluctance to engage in culture-related conversation exists in
    supervisory relationships today, with the power and hierarchical considerations in work
    relationships persisting. So, the question remains, how does one move this issue forward,
    knowing the constraints and limitations? How do supervisors and supervisees create an
    authentic, mutual relationship that includes acknowledgement of and conversation about
    Application of Relational-Cultural Theory to Social Work Practice and Supervision
    This paper examines the major themes of RCT as they pertain to social work supervision
    in contemporary social work agency practice. It is proposed that relational-cultural themes are
    present in all relationships, including supervisory relationships. A few of these themes,
    including mutual involvement, shame and humiliation, and relational images, will be examined
    as examples of concepts to be explored.
    RCT brings an understanding of the universal need for connected relationships to
    psychological theory and understanding of the human condition and experience. While RCT is
    becoming more developed with time as it relates to the client experience, little has been written
    that relates RCT to the social work supervision experience. The following proposes a beginning
    framework for application of RCT to social work supervision, including special considerations
    for working cross-culturally.
    The Relational-Cultural Supervisor
    Relational–Cultural social work supervision mirrors many of the same components required
    for effective therapy. The supervisor, similar to the reflective role of the therapist, is in the
    position to model desired social work skills in day-to-day routine work and in ongoing social
    work supervision. “Initial supervisory tasks include the provision of thoughtfulness and respect,
    holding: the goal of helping the client change, and guiding the supervisee to step into a
    professional healing role that is imbued with authentic responsiveness” (Jordan, 2004, p. 26).
    One of the goals of effective supervision is to help the supervisee apply to practice the
    skills learned through supervision. In modern social work settings, such skills are not only
    traditional clinical skills for therapeutic work, but also the skills needed for successful work with
    others in the department and intra agency collaboration. The goal of strong social work practice
    and supervision is relational competence. Relational competence in the supervisory relationship,
    similar to in the therapeutic dyad, is demonstrated through movement toward mutuality and
    empathy; openness to influence; connection as a priority; anticipatory empathy which includes
    noticing and caring about our impact on others; relational curiosity; and experiencing
    vulnerability (Jordan in Jordan et al., 2004). These features combine to define the supervisory
    relationship and set the tone for the importance of relationship in effective social work practice.
    Building from this, Jordan (2004) notes several components necessary for relational-cultural

    Mutual empathy

    Creation of a safe context for shared learning, and the avoidance of shame.

    Vulnerability of the supervisor

    Fluidity – collaborative feeling/experience

    Awareness of, and as much as possible, avoidance of, relational images which prevent
    growth (for example, ideas that therapists should be issue-free themselves, or that they
    should always behave in connected ways). (Jordan, 2004).
    Abernethy and Cook also outline essential components of quality supervision in the RCT
    model, which include mutual empowerment, mutual empathy, and relational authenticity. The
    authors outline specifics in the supervision experience with a focus on maintaining connection
    between supervisor and supervisee, and avoiding shame and the resultant disconnection:
    “…supervisors collaborate with vulnerability to form connection. With an RCT approach, they
    are open and flexible, accept uncertainty, and demonstrate an ability to learn alongside the
    supervisee.” (Abernathy and Cook, 2011, p. 10). Further, the authors note that RCT in the
    supervisory environment includes “a safe environment of mutual empathy to disclose concerns,
    sensitivity to the power differential and vulnerabilities of both parties, and an environment of
    mutual learning.” (Abernethy and Cook, 2011, p. 11). Porter et al. note that feminist supervisors
    “illuminate the process of self-examination by remaining open and non-defensive during
    reflexive dialogue and by self-disclosing in ways that benefit the supervisees” (1998, p. 164).
    As in the therapeutic relationship, part of the supervisory relationship is mutual
    commitment to move through the work together, making a commitment to stay on the journey
    together, despite disconnections. The commitment to work through issues that arise, and to move
    back to connection, is part of how the supervisor models to the supervisee the mutuality of the
    relationship. Other features of relational competence that are part of the supervisory relationship
    include: movement toward mutuality and empathy; openness to influence; connection as a
    priority; anticipatory empathy, noticing and caring about our impact on others; relational
    curiosity; and experiencing vulnerability (Jordan in Jordan et al., 2004). These features combine
    to define the supervisory relationship and set the tone of the importance of relationship in
    effective social work practice.
    Lenz (2014) offers a specific outline for the application of RCT skills to supervision and
    identifies three areas for application: language, conceptualization, and therapeutic techniques.
    Language involves the use of RCT terms in supervision when describing clinical phenomenon,
    and Lenz notes that the ability to name observances can be powerful to the supervisee (2014, p.
    7). Conceptualization relates to the supervisor modeling in supervision, skills which supervisees
    can then apply to their work with clients. Lenz notes that because supervision is often provided
    in settings which may not represent RCT values, ideals and approaches, “conceptual flexibility”
    is often required (Lenz, 2014, p. 7-8).
    It is proposed that there are additional features required for effective social work
    supervision in the Relational-Cultural approach, in addition to those outlined as necessary for
    effective therapeutic relationships. It is proposed that energy, endurance, setting/system
    management, issues/politic management, and sensitivity to cultural differences and styles are
    additional features to be considered. A high level of self-awareness is required, as well as
    Relational-Cultural expertise, including the ability to manage and work through disconnection.
    And of course, good supervisors possess the ability to work with a wide variety of work styles,
    approaches to practice, and personality types. A few of these components will be further
    examined below.
    Power in Supervision and RCT
    Central to a positive supervisory relationship is the acknowledgement and continued
    attention to the role of power in the relationship. Feminist ideology is critical to an RCT
    understanding of power in supervision, as feminist supervisors “illuminate the process of selfexamination by remaining open and non-defensive during reflexive dialogue and by selfdisclosing in ways that benefit the supervisees” (Porter & Vasquez, 1997, p. 164). Abernethy
    and Cook (2011) note that RCT does not imply equivalence of roles in therapy or in supervision,
    nor does it imply that the power differentials should be ignored or dismissed. Rather, power
    differentials should be brought to the forefront when appropriate. They state that “mutual
    empathy in a supervisory setting is reception, joining, empathic interaction, and the ability to
    anticipate empathy”, all of which serves to recognize the power and expertise of each person in
    the dyad. (Abernethy & Cook, 2011, p. 7). Mangione, Mears, Vincent, and Hawes (2011), in
    noting the work of Porter and Vasquez (1997), outline the following principles for feminist
    1. attention to issues of power;
    2. collaborative relationships;
    3. reflexivity on the part of the supervisor and between supervisor and supervisee;
    4. authenticity and openness on the part of the supervisor. (p. 142)
    Brock (as cited in Walker, 2008) proposed a power-power relationship, where we feel
    present and alive in our ability “to influence and participate in shaping the world” (p. 133).
    Walker (2008) notes that discovering how to “relate to and through the power that one has” (p.
    133) is supported in RCT. Walker’s notions of power—which have at their roots the elements of
    growth-producing relationships and include mutual empowerment—are applicable to a new
    understanding of the supervisory relationship. She notes the importance of reflection, connecting
    with affect, and being open to allowing oneself to be influenced by the other (Walker, 2008).
    Lazzari et al. (2009) outlines a perspective for feminist social work leadership which includes a
    “working with or beside” relationship, as opposed to a supervisory or expert type role (p. 353).
    RCT’s concepts of power are also relevant when understanding the role of the supervisor
    not only as instructor/leader, but also as learner. Downs (2006), in one of the few writings
    specific to RCT and supervision, notes that supervision within RCT is “grounded in mutual
    respect, a sense of shared purpose, openness to influence and a basic belief in the value of
    relational connection” (p.1). Downs (2006) suggests that RCT supervision is creative, relational,
    growth-producing, and modeling of the client-therapist relationship. Additionally, RCT “power
    over” versus “power with” themes can be applied to supervision, where the supervisor is seen as
    having a specific role that includes the assumption of some level of authority of both knowledge
    and position, while still being open to learning and being impacted by the ideas and experiences
    of others, most notably, supervisees. This approach changes the supervision experience to one of
    mutual learning and growth, as opposed to one where the supervisor is compelled to be the
    expert and immune to the influence of the supervisee’s ideas and experiences.
    Lenz (2014) notes the importance of supported vulnerability in the RCT model of
    supervision. He observes that the hierarchical nature of supervision places the influence of the
    supervisor over that of the supervisee, which may impact the supervisee’s willingness to share
    professional experiences which are difficult. A relationship of supported vulnerability allows the
    supervisee to explore areas which may require further skill development, but could ultimately
    improves work with clients (Lenz, 2014).
    RCT’s concepts of power are also relevant when understanding the role of the supervisor
    not only as instructor/leader, but also as learner. “Power over” versus “power with” themes can
    be applied to supervision, where the supervisor is seen as having a specific role that includes the
    assumption of some level of authority of both knowledge and position, but is still open to
    learning and being impacted by the ideas and experiences of others.
    The Role of Empathy and Avoidance of Shame in Supervision
    RCT focuses on the role of empathy in the building of all relationships, and certainly this
    is applicable to the supervisory relationship. As previously noted, empathy in the RCT model is
    the cognitive skill which allows us to “know” another person’s experience and supports the
    other person in way that precludes them from feeling unloved/unworthy of love. (“Glossary of
    Relational-Cultural Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..). In the supervisory relationship, the meaning of love
    may be related to feelings of authenticity, competence and worthiness. Empathy also includes an
    understanding of strategies of connection and disconnection, including those present in the
    supervisory relationship. Abernathy and Cook (2011) note that “mutual empathy additionally
    involves empathy of the supervisor for the supervisee’s strategies of disconnection by
    recognizing the sources of those strategies and respecting them as coping efforts” (p. 7).
    Also central to the supervisory relationship is the avoidance of shaming of the supervisee
    by the supervisor. RCT has long-recognized the negative impact of shame on relationships
    (insert citations). When shame is present, relational growth is impeded.
    Shaming can occur unwittingly when supervisors are not attuned to power dynamics in
    the supervisory relationship or in the larger culture. Some supervisors processed with
    little awareness of social forces of stratification and marginalization, as if individuals
    exist in a vacuum. Supervisees, partly because they are in positions of less power,
    sometimes are not free to represent their own perspectives (e.g., as a woman, as a person
    of color, or as a lesbian or gay therapist) . (Jordan, 2004, p. 25)
    Fletcher, Jordan and Miller (2000) define the concept of “empathetic teaching” as
    collaborative in nature and involving the use of the individual’s skills and experiences as the way
    to provide information, teaching skills, guidance, and direction without shame (Fletcher, Jordan
    and Miller, 2000; Jordan and Romney, 2005). Certainly these same principles apply to the
    supervision experience.
    Cultural Competence and RCT
    The development of RCT has included an intentional and specific focus on diversityrelated issues. In addition to the understanding of power and privilege as they relate to race in
    American society, there is interest in understanding other components which may present as
    relational barriers. Specifically, how do people experience difference? How are differences
    manifested in relationships? What are the ways in which differences can be acknowledged and
    worked through? The following will examine the RCT literature as it relates to
    multiculturalism/diversity/cultural competence.
    Frey notes that the literature related to RCT and multicultural and cross-cultural
    application is expanding with time (e.g., Coll, Cook–Nobles, & Surrey, 1997;Rosen, 1997;
    Tatum, 1997; Turner, 1997; Vasquez, 2006; Walker, 2004b; Walls, 2004 as cited in
    Frey, L. L. (2013). Birrell and Freyd note RCT’s unique approach to understanding and helping
    individuals and groups:
    RCT theorists emphasize that a more contextual approach to the helping process aimed
    at ameliorating the adverse impact of various forms of cultural oppression,
    marginalization, and social injustice has many positive implications for individual clients
    and ‘he wider context of community and the social world. (Birrell and Freyd, 2006, p 50).
    Relational movement and relational awareness are at the core of cultural competency.
    Cornstock et al. (2008) note that much can be learned from relational development by
    understanding one’s own racial/cultural/social identities. Cornstock et al. reflect that RCT has
    served as a theoretical framework
    from which to promote the concept of mutual empathy as key to healing and relational
    transformation in therapy, as well as in other relational/professional contexts, including
    the work counselors do as multicultural/social justice advocates, consultants, and
    organizational development agents (2008, p. 281).
    RCT begins with an understanding of the human experience as culturally bound. Garcia
    Coll points out that every culture has values, traditions, and patterns which impact ways of
    being; cultural norms around autonomy vs symbiosis, norms around language and movement,
    expression of emotion and even, ways of thinking. (Garcia Coll, 1992, paper 59). Further
    Garcia Coll notes “racial and ethnic identify processes are as much a part of the dominant as well
    as the oppressed “view of the self” (Garcia Coll, 1992, p. 6; Tatum, 1992). Thus, RCT
    understands cross racial/cultural connections and disconnections as a dynamic process between
    two different individuals/groups, each of whom bring their histories and experiences to the
    present interaction. Neither is immune from the social norms and cultural context of the larger
    Disconnections. RCT acknowledges that disconnections are an expected part of any
    relationship, including the therapeutic relationship. Disconnections take on added layers of
    meaning when there are racial/cultural differences between individuals or groups. Cornstock
    (2006) notes that such relational failures “are particularly painful for the more vulnerable person
    in the relationship and particularly for those clients who come from marginalized and devalued
    racial/cultural groups in contemporary society” (Cornstock, et al, 2006 in Cornstock et al 2008,
    p. 282).
    Controlling Images. One specific concept noted in the RCT diversity-related literature
    is RCT’s concept of controlling images (Frey, 2013, Collins, 1990). Controlling images are
    “Images constructed by the dominant group that represent distortions of the non-dominant
    cultural group being depicted, with the intent of disempowering them.” (“Glossary of RelationalCultural Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..; Collins 1990) Frey (2013) introduces the concept of controlling
    images as part of an RCT framework related to understanding power in a cultural context.
    Central Relational Paradox. As previously indicated, central relational paradox is the
    idea that individuals who have experienced repeated disconnection learn to keep aspects of
    themselves out of relationship, despite their desire for more relationship. While the strategies
    used to keep oneself out of relationship are seen as adaptive in the RCT model, the result is an
    inauthentic relationship absent of mutuality, which becomes another source of disconnection
    (“Glossary of Relational-Cultural Theory,” JBMTI, n.d..). This concept takes on added
    complexity when understanding the intricacy of cross-racial/cross-cultural connections.
    example, Garcia Coll describes “cultural mistrust”, where members of minority groups have
    experienced a lack of trust by members of the dominant group (1992, p. 6). She points to
    existing evidence related to minority clients’ high dropout rates from counseling when the
    therapist is white (in Coll, 1992, p. 6). An RCT framework understands such mistrust as having
    developed and adapted from survival strategies which serve to protect individuals.
    Working Through Issues of Difference. There are two perspectives from which to
    approach relational cross-cultural/cross racial interactions; first, the helper’s own self-awareness
    and sensitivity to issues of difference and power; and second, the client’s racial identity process,
    pre-conceived constructs of her/his own experience and the experience of other(s) in the
    relationship. The opportunity to grow through connection is present for the client as well as the
    therapist. Jordan writes, ”While some mutual empathy involves an acknowledgement of
    sameness in the other, an appreciation of the differentness of the other’s experience is also vital.
    The movement toward the other’s differentness is actually central to growth in relationships and
    also can provide a powerful sense of validation for both self and other. Growth occurs because
    as I stretch to match or understand your experience, something new is acknowledged or grows in
    me” (Jordan, 1995, p. 57).
    Day-Vines, et al. (2007) note the importance of counselors first understanding their own
    level of racial identity development, followed then by an understanding of their clients’ level of
    racial identity development. Further, the authors also propose that it’s the counselor’s
    responsibility to broach racial identity issues, and to be ready to hear the c…

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