The Developmental Model



Developmental models are based upon two assumptions. The first is that as one develops skills and competence as a counselor, you will move through a series of stages. The second assumption is that each stage requires different supervision skills and techniques. Consider any learning process. As the student becomes more proficient in the subject, less is needed from the instructor. This is similar to Vygotsky's developmental ideas regarding a sociocultural model of development. Two concepts from Vygotsky's theory are relevant here. The zone of proximal development is the area between what a child is able to achieve working independently and what he or she is able to do with assistance from a more skilled individual. The helper assists in structuring the task and collaboratively walking the child through to completion. This does not mean that the helper does the task for the child. Assistance is offered to guide the thinking of the child and offer support and encouragement. Scaffolding is a skill utilized by effective teachers in which only the amount of help necessary to complete the task is offered. In the early stages of learning, more assistance is needed. As the child becomes more proficient, a decreasing amount of help is offered until the child can complete the task independently. These concepts would apply in the developmental model of supervision.

Several developmental models have been published. However, for the purpose of this course, we will focus on the Integrated Developmental Model because it is the most renown and utilized of the developmental models. The model originated with the work of Stoltenberg in 1981 and focused on four stages of cognitive complexity that were adapted from two previous models developed by Hogan in 1964 and Harvey, Hunt, and Schroeder in 1961. Hogan's model suggested that trainees progress through stages. Harvey, Hunt, and Schroeder examined how as our cognitive development changes, so does our ability to think, reason, and understand. Stoltenberg combined these two models (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004). Stoltenberg continued to refine and expand his model over the next 18 years and added other contributors to his work. The current Integrated Developmental Model (IDM) was introduced in 1998 by Stoltenberg, McNeill, and Delworth. It is popular because it is both descriptive of the supervisee at each stage of development and prescriptive in appropriate supervisory interventions at each stage.

The IDM presents four stages through which supervisees progress. It must be noted that when a supervisee is presented with a new challenge, he or she may revert back to an earlier stage as the skills are developed to approach the challenge. Each of the four stages is characterized by three structures: self-other awareness, motivation, and autonomy. Self-other awareness indicates the level of awareness the supervisee has related to their own counseling skills and behaviors, as well as the understanding of the client's world. Motivation refers to the interest and desire to engage in training and development. Autonomy is the degree of independence the supervisee exhibits. Within each of the levels, the supervisee functions within eight domains:



Overview of Stage
Self-Other Awareness
Level 1
Limited training or experience in the specific domain of supervision (i.e. treatment planning, case conceptualization, etc.) High levels of self-focus, with little self-evaluation, anxiety related to evaluation by supervisor, concerned with "doing it right" Motivation and anxiety are focused on acquisition of skills. Want to know the
"correct" approach to working with clients
Very dependent upon supervisor, requires high levels of structure, positive reinforcement. Unable to tolerate direct confrontation
Level 2
Transitioning for high levels of dependence and imitative forms of counseling. Beginning to respond to the highly structured supervisory practices of Level 1. This usually occurs after two to three semesters of supervised work. Increased ability to focus on client and exhibit empathy. Still struggles with balancing focus on self and client. May become confused and enmeshed with client Fluctuates between high levels of confidence, feelings of incompetence, and confusion Vacillates between autonomy and dependence. This may manifest in the form of resistance
Level 3
Beginning to develop a personalized approach to counseling. Understands and utilizes "self" in therapy. A different type of self awareness emerges. Demonstrates the ability to stay focused on client while attending to personal reactions and responses to client. This ability is utilized in decision-making about the client Consistent as confidence increases, may still exhibit some self-doubt, but the doubt has less impact on ability to proceed Solid belief in own judgment, and skills. Supervision becomes more of a consultant and increase collegiality is exhibited
Level 3i (Integrated)
The supervisee has reached Level 3 across multiple domains. A personal style of counseling has emerged and the supervisee demonstrates high levels of awareness regarding personal competency.


The following documents provide more information on the developmental model.

A Blueprint for Developmental Supervision provides information on the supervisory relationship and intervention strategies at each level.

The Supervisee Levels Questionnaire (Bernanrd & Goodyear, 2004) is designed to have supervisees reflect on their own level of development.

The Counselor Development Profile (Stoltenberg & Delworth, 1987) can be utilized by the supervisor to document levels of development across the 8 domains.