Non-sexual boundary crossings in clinical supervision: Can they be beneficial?

JoEllen M Kozlowski, Marquette University


This study examined the Positive Boundary Crossings (PBCs) experienced by 11 doctoral trainees in clinical, child clinical, child and family, counseling, and school psychology programs. A PBC was defined as an act by a supervisor that fell outside the expected supervisory behaviors. Such acts were either initially deemed positive by the supervisee or after discussion with the supervisor were deemed to have benefited the supervisory relationship or were growth-enhancing for the supervisee. Data-gathering interviews were conducted over the phone, were audio taped and transcribed, and the data were analyzed according to the Consensual Qualitative Research methodology (CQR; Hill et al., 2005; Hill et al., 1997). Participants were asked a series of contextual questions about their supervision boundary experiences as a whole, followed by specific probes of one particular PBC. The interview closed with questions about the interview process. PBC findings revealed that participants typically felt their supervisory relationships were supportive, and at the time of the PBC had good rapport with their supervisor. The timing of the PBCs was variable, ranging from the first day of supervision to well over six months after the beginning of supervision. Participants reported that PBC antecedents were typically supervision related. Examples of their PBCs were engaging in social activities with supervisors, and going to lunch or being invited to a supervisor's home. Typically supervisees did not discuss the PBC with their supervisors, though a few participants wished that they had. Reasons for not addressing the PBC included supervisee discomfort, the sense that the PBC was considered normal, and an awareness that discussion of process issues did not fit the supervisors' style. Most supervisees viewed the PBCs as enhancing the supervisory relationship. However, some participants reported negative effects, namely, that the PBC created role confusion. The study's limitations and implications, as well as suggestions for future research, are examined.

Recommended Citation

Kozlowski, JoEllen M, "Non-sexual boundary crossings in clinical supervision: Can they be beneficial?" (2008). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3326762.