Supervisee Perceptions of Supervisory Focus On Strengths and Constructive Focus on Deficits: Development and Validation of a Measure

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The purpose of the present study was to develop and validate a measure of the constructs of focus on supervisee strengths and constructive focus on deficits from the supervisee perspective, the Supervisory Focus on Strengths and Deficits Inventory-Supervisee Form (SUPSAD-S). Participants (N = 204 for exploratory factor analysis, N = 201 for all other analyses) were a national sample of masters' and doctoral level graduate students in various mental health professions (e.g., counseling psychology; clinical psychology, social work). Data was collected through the use of an internet survey containing the SUPSAD-S as well as measures used to assess its convergent and discriminant validity. The overall return rate ranged from 44-46%. Exploratory factor analysis was used to assess the construct validity and explore the underlying factor structure of the SUPSAD-S. The final two factor solution retaining 24 items accounted for 63% percent of the variance. The first subscale, Focus on Strengths, consisted of 12 items (45.41% of variance) reflecting interventions used by supervisors to identify and enhance supervisees' strengths. The second subscale, Constructive Focus on Deficits, consisted of 12 items (accounting for 17.68% of the variance) reflecting interventions used by supervisors to address supervisees' deficits in a non-critical or non-punitive manner intended to help supervisees grow and improve. Higher subscale scores indicate greater supervisory focus on strengths and constructive focus on deficits, respectively, from the perspective of supervisees rating their supervisors. Evidence of good reliability (i.e., high internal consistency and two week test-retest reliability estimates) for each of the subscales was found. In addition, initial support was found for the convergent and discriminant validity of both subscales. Specifically, the convergent validity of the focus on strengths subscale was supported by its correlations with satisfaction with supervision (r = .71), the supervisory working alliance (r = .69), and counseling self-efficacy (r = .27) as expected. The convergent validity of the constructive focus on strengths subscale was supported by its correlations with satisfaction with supervision (r = .57) and the supervisory working alliance (r = .50) as expected. Discriminant validity of both subscales was supported by their lack of correlation with public self-consciousness. Focus on strengths was also found to be a stronger predictor of positive supervision outcomes than constructive focus on deficits. Implications for supervision practice and future research are discussed.