There are generally accepted ethical responsibilities of supervisors to clients, supervisees, and to the profession and public at large.
- Clinical supervisors have accepted ethical responsibility for the following:
- Supervisors protect clients’ welfare, rights, and best interests. They are accountable for ensuring that clients receive informed, reasonable care and ensure that supervisees accurately inform clients about their credentials and their participation in supervision.
- Supervisors prevent supervisees from being “in over their heads” and make themselves available. Supervisors provide timely and adequate supervision and are accessible during emergency situations. They assess therapists’ readiness for supervision by screening potential supervisees for their knowledge and competency, while helping supervisees present their abilities honestly and accurately to clients. Supervisors provide timely feedback and evaluations, as well as inform supervisees about their preferred ideas about supervision and therapy, and the nature of the supervision context.
- Supervisors who provide ethically-informed supervision:
- Take a proactive stance to help their supervisees and themselves develop ethical awareness and to make decisions consistent with ethical values. Supervisors maximize clinical and supervisory effectiveness and minimize vulnerability for clients, supervisees, and themselves.
- Use their greater professional experience and knowledge to guide supervisees in anticipating possible difficulties in the future and in assessing various possibilities and alternatives.
- Help supervisees avoid inadvertent unethical decisions by not walking in the shoes of the therapists but by being responsible and accountable, ethically and legally, for providing supervision consistent with the professions’ standard of care for supervision.
To increase the likelihood that supervisory responses will be beneficial to supervisees and clients while preventing harm to all, it is prudent for supervisors to ensure that all parties are informed and consenting consumers of supervision. Clearly delineated contracts assist supervisees in making informed decisions and also contribute to supervisors treating supervisees fairly. Having documentation of supervision with supervisees also promotes accountability of all involved. Careful assessment and serious consideration of the complications and potential for confusion and harm in multiple relationships assists supervisors to determine precautionary steps to implement when multiple relationships are contemplated.