Date of Award

Spring 4-20-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education (PhD)



First Advisor/Committee Member

Cher Edwards

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Marcia Webb

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Nyaradzo Mvududu


counselor self-efficacy, social learning theory, counselor in training, supervision, supervision relationship, counseling skills, counselor identity, constructive supervisory feedback



The growing need and use of mental health services illustrates how critical the development of competent counselors is to the nation’s health. Level of counselor self-efficacy is suggested to strongly influence counselor development and competency in practice. Several supervisory factors have been identified in the literature as significantly influencing counselors’ level of self-efficacy. However, the effect of the supervisory relationship and its impact on post-graduate counselor-in-training self-efficacy is unknown. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the construct of counselor self-efficacy in relation to the supervisory relationship and the development of counseling skills in a post-graduate sample. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory was the theoretical framework used for this study. Participants consisted of eight post-graduate master’s degree level counselors’ who graduated from CACREP accredited graduate programs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted virtually and face-to-face to answer research questions focused on participants perceptions of their current supervisory relationship and its perceived effectiveness in the development of self-efficacy and counseling skills. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using NVivo 12 software. All participants reported feeling supported by their current clinical supervisor and all, but one participant perceived their supervisory relationship helped them build their self-efficacy. Six major themes were identified as factors that attributed to a supportive supervisory relationship with optimal clinical skill development. The six themes included building of counselor identity, constructive supervisory feedback, the perception of the supervisor as a secure base, the supervisors perceived breadth of knowledge, structure and boundaries in the supervisory relationship, and the supervisor’s availability/accessibility. Of these six themes, development of counselor identity, the supervisor as a secure base, and constructive supervisory feedback predominated over all interview questions suggesting that the perception of supervisor’s vested interest in developing participants counselor identity while providing a secure base and constructive feedback are essential in developing counselor’s self-efficacy and clinical skill sets. Potential implications of the research findings include increasing the clinical supervisory experience requirements, the implementation of a universally accepted and employed guideline on structured supervision to include a minimum level of accessibility and enforced weekly supervision hours, and implementation of instruction for supervisors regarding evidence-based practices about providing constructive feedback to counselors-in-training. Several recommendations for future studies and practice are also discussed.