Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology


Relational competence is a core ability for practising psychologists and an important area of foundational learning in psychological training. This thesis involves a series of studies which investigate the ways in which supervision is currently utilised to build trainee psychologists’ relational competence. In particular, this thesis focuses on the development of the relational skill of metacommunication, the ability to process interpersonal dynamics in the here-and-now with clients in a therapeutic way.

Taken together, findings from these five studies highlight the importance of understanding and improving the ways in which psychologists are supported to develop relational competence, particularly complex therapeutic skills such as effective metacommunication. Both didactic and experiential methods of teaching metacommunication in supervision appear to increase willingness to engage in future metacommunication and improvements in skills. However, further research utilising experimental designs is required in this area.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.