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The supervisory relationship is considered a core experience in the field of psychology. The primary goal of this experience is to support trainees’ development of strong clinical skills, as well as expertise, to ensure adequate treatment of patients and promote learning and professional growth. However, it has become evident that supervisors continue to struggle with adapting an integrated and contextual approach to diversity. This becomes problematic when working with trainees of Color who are often navigating multiple identities in professional spaces and are at risk for burnout and unintended harm from individuals in a supervisory role. Further, the expanding sociopolitical landscape and diversification of professional spheres provide evidence for the need for contextually and culturally humble approaches to supervision, particularly when working with trainees of Color. This piece provides 2 illustrative examples of supervisory experiences of Black trainees during a time of heightened racial tensions in the United States. We seek to use these critical incidents to highlight the impact of both a culturally unresponsive approach that evidenced unacknowledged cultural blind spots, as well as a culturally responsive and humble approach to supervision. Recommendations for the work of supervision with trainees of Color, particularly Black trainees, are provided. For improvement, we recommend continuing education, implementing a process-oriented model of supervision, engaging in open dialogue, facilitating opportunities for mentorship, creating safe spaces, and carefully considering the larger sociopolitical context.


Originally published in Training and Education in Professional Psychology. 2020. Volume 14. Issue 4. Pages 277–284.