Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Rehabilitation and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Duys, David K

First Committee Member

Smith, Carol K

Second Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy N

Third Committee Member

Wadsworth, John S

Fourth Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart W


Supervision literature has indicated the importance of the supervisory working alliance in the development of effective supervision (Landy, Ellis, & Friedlander, 1999). While there has been a wealth of research on the role of the supervisory working alliance within supervision, there is a dearth of information on how this alliance is formed (Cooper & Ng, 2009). The purpose of this study is to examine if supervision cognitive complexity is a unique aspect of cognitive complexity within counseling and better understand its role in the formation of the supervisory working alliance.

Forty-two participants were selected from CACREP accredited masters and doctoral programs located in the North Central region of the Association of Counselor Educators and Supervisors (NCACES). Cognitive complexity was measured via two different measures: the Counselor Cognitions Questionnaire (CCQ) and Supervision Cognitive Complexity Questionnaire (SCCQ). The supervisory working alliance was measured by the Supervisory Working Alliance Inventory-Trainee (SWAI-T) which measures the supervisory working alliance from the perspective of the trainee.

Results indicated a strong correlation between counseling cognitive complexity and supervision cognitive complexity. Further, the supervision working alliance was not significantly correlated with either measure of cognitive complexity. Supervision cognitive complexity did provide a significant contribution to the variance accounted for in the subscale of client focus in the SWAI-T. Implications for counselor educators and supervisors are discussed.

Public Abstract

Student’s cognitive development has been linked to greater success in the workforce (Harvey, Hunt, & Schroder, 1961; Hunt, 1966; Perry, 1970; Stoltenberg, McNeill, & Delworth, 1998). The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of counseling students’ cognitive development on their ability to form a strong working relationship with their supervisor. It was hypothesized that students who have higher levels of complex cognitions would form stronger relationships with their supervisors. Forty-two students were used as participants in this study. Results indicated that students’ cognitive complexity did not have a significant contribution to the overall relationship between student and supervisor. However, results did show that students who had higher levels of supervision cognitive complexity were able to see more task specific (client focus) functions of supervision than those who had lower levels of complexity.


publicabstract, Assessment, Cognitive Complexity, Counselor Education, Supervision


ix, 92 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 86-92).


Copyright 2015 Fred AlDean Washburn