Supervisee Avoidant Attachment and Supervisors’ Use of Relational Behavior: Contributions to the Working Alliance
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Type of Work97
Citation of Original PublicationShaffer, K. S. (2015). Supervisee Avoidant Attachment and Supervisors' use of Relational Behavior: Contributions to the Working Alliance. Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.
avoidant attachment style
Experiences in Close Relationships Scale-Revised
Relational Behavior Scale
Supervision research has demonstrated the importance of a strong supervisory working alliance in the context of clinical training. However, little is known about what specifically occurs in clinical supervision that contributes to a strong supervisory working alliance. The present study of counselor trainees was designed to investigate relations among their avoidant attachment style, perceptions of relational behaviors used by their supervisors in the most recent supervision session, and the supervisory working alliance. Competing hypotheses stated that greater use of relational behavior on the part of supervisors would either mediate or moderate the inverse relationship between trainees’ avoidant attachment style and their perceptions of the supervisory working alliance. Master’s and doctoral trainees in the mental health professions were contacted through listservs, training directors, and social media with a link to the web-based study. The measures were the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale-Revised ( ECR-R; Fraley, Waller & Brennan, 2000), the Relational Behavior Scale (RBS), which was developed based on Ladany, Friedlander, and Nelson’s (2005) Critical Events model of supervision and assesses perceptions of supervisors’ use of 5 specific interpersonal behaviors in supervision (exploration of feelings, focus on therapeutic process, attend to parallel process, focus on countertransference, and focus on supervisory alliance), and the Working Alliance Inventory – Trainee version (WAI-T; Bahrick, 1989). Based on the present sample (N = 141) and a similar earlier sample (total N = 262), a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted on the Relational Behavior Scale, which confirmed that a 5-item, one factor solution best fit the data and accounted for 53.38% of the total variance. Results indicated that neither the mediation nor vii moderation hypotheses was supported. Specifically, trainees’ avoidant attachment style was not significantly related to the supervisory working alliance or to the perceived relational behavior of supervisors. However, a significant positive association (r = .62, p = .0001) emerged between scores on the RBS and the WAI-T, providing evidence that supervisors’ use of specific in-session relational strategies are strongly associated with trainees’ more favorable perceptions of the working alliance. Continued study of relational behavior may enhance theories of interpersonal supervision, provide training guidelines for new supervisors, and suggest strategies for purposeful intervention to build strong alliances with trainees, who in turn may use these modeled behaviors to build strong alliances with their clients.