Supervision by videoconference with rural probationary psychologists

Robyn J. Miller, Adele M. Gibson

Abstract


Videoconference networks afford access to education and supervision for health professionals in rural areas. Yet the assumed equivalence between videoconferencing and face-to-face communication remains largely untested. Evidence for the unique aspects of videoconferenced communication (Jerome and Zaylor 2000) does suggest consequences for traditional supervision methods, particularly the core components of teaching and a working alliance. This study explored the experience of videoconferenced supervision with a supervision model (Bernard 1979, 1997) together with power and involvement. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 psychologists. Qualitative content analysis confirmed the roles and content areas defined by Bernard’s supervision model but with some interesting addition and modification. Formal communication increased as did a power discrepancy between trainee and supervisor. Influences upon involvement were more complex; social presence was degraded yet some trainees felt freer to divulge emotional content. The findings affirm some unique features to videoconferenced supervision and validate a framework for its further exploration.

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