Lauren Kuhn

Defense Date


Graduation Date



Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

William Casile

Committee Member

Nicholas Hanna

Committee Member

Lisa Lopez Levers


Supervision, rural, lived-experiences, supervisor, mental health, focus group


Supervision is an essential component to the counseling field and is a distinct intervention (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004). The primary purpose of supervision is to enhance a counselor's professional development and ensure client welfare. The role of a supervisor carries a tremendous amount of professional, ethical, and legal responsibilities. Therefore, supervisors require specific training, skills, and knowledge related to the provision of mental health services in rural areas in order to provide quality supervision services. The intent of this study is to provide a rich description of the supervisor's experience of supervision in the rural context and its effect on the development and functioning of the rural supervisor.

This study provided the opportunity for supervisors to share the benefits, challenges, and concerns of providing supervision in the rural context. This study contributed to the understanding of the benefits and challenges of rural supervision and provided a basis for recommendations to improve supervision in rural areas. An analysis of relevant themes that emerged from focus group and individual interviews with ten rural supervisors provided a rich description of the experience of supervisors in rural settings.

The results of this study demonstrate that working in rural mental health settings provides unique challenges and barriers to the development and functioning of rural supervisors. Rural supervisors struggle with the lack of initial and continuing education and training, lack of peer and professional supports, and lack of resources and funding in rural areas. These challenges are unique to the rural context and can have a profound effect on the quality of supervision and the quality of services provided in rural areas.

The findings of this study identify the need for specific training and field experiences to prepare workers for the challenges often faced working in rural settings. This study provides specific recommendations to counselor educators to prepare people for work in rural areas. This study identifies risk factors and protective factors that enhance or impede supervisor development, and it provides specific recommendations to support supervisors currently practicing in rural areas.