Date of Conferral
Counselor Education and Supervision
Melinda A. Haley
Researchers have supported the use of cotherapy in both training and application for couple and family counseling as a clinical practice. However, there is not enough evidence to determine whether cotherapy can meet the learning needs of counselors-in-training more comprehensively than other forms of live supervision. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to explore the training experiences of postgraduate couple and family counselors who participated in cotherapy with a clinical supervisor. These experiences were examined using social and experiential learning theories. A modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method served as the procedural guide for the analysis. Hand-coded interview data from 7 licensed marriage, couple, and family counselors (MCFC) and MCFC interns revealed that individual factors such as anxiety and expectations, relational factors such as trust and support, and procedural elements of the cotherapy practice contributed to a perception of efficacy in the cotherapy process. Trainees believed these factors positively influenced their self-efficacy and clinical competency. The results of this study can offer insight into how counselor educators might better prepare trainees for specialized work with couples and families by using cotherapy effectively as a systems-congruent approach to their supervision plans. Such information may contribute to improved quality of care to client systems and better protection of consumers.