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This article emphasizes the important contributions of systems theory in the supervision process. A case study is used to illustrate how attention to the systemic contexts of the client, the supervisee, and the supervision process itself enlarges the possibilities for helpful change. The unifying themes of many systems theories are identified (diagnosing the system, viewing problems in context, and focusing on systemic change), and techniques for keeping supervision systemically focused are suggested. The usefulness of systems perspectives for conceptualizing diverse cultural influences and for framing advocacy efforts is explored. In addition, the supervision goals of three common systems-based approaches (structural, multigenerational, and linguistic/narrative) are presented. Specific guidance for supervisors is drawn from each approach and applied to the case study.


Originally published in The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families. 2001. Volume 9. Issue 3. Pages 305-313.