Can Boundary Crossings in Clinical Supervision be Beneficial?

Document Type




Format of Original

18 p.

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

Source Publication

Counselling Psychology Quarterly

Source ISSN



Published studies have addressed boundary violations by clinical supervisors, but boundary crossings, particularly those deemed positive by supervisees, have not received much attention. Eleven trainees in APA-accredited doctoral programs in clinical and counseling psychology were interviewed regarding positive boundary crossings (PBCs) they experienced with clinical supervisors. Interview data were analyzed using Consensual Qualitative Research. Examples of PBCs included socializing with supervisors outside the office, sharing car rides, and supervisor self-disclosure. Typically, supervisees did not discuss the PBC with their supervisors because they were uncomfortable doing so, felt that the PBC was normal, or felt that processing such issues was not part of the supervisor’s style. Most supervisees viewed the PBCs as enhancing the supervisory relationship and their clinical training; however, some participants reported that the PBCs created role confusion. The results suggest that there are legitimate reasons for supervisors to be scrupulous about their boundaries with supervisees; however, supervisors who hold rigid boundaries can deprive supervisees of deeper mentoring relationships or a more authentic emotional relationship that can be valuable to supervisees learning how to provide psychotherapy.


Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 2 (June 2014): 109-126. DOI.