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A clear definition of which ethical aspirational principle and enforceable standards are relevant  to the topic below.

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A clear definition of which ethical aspirational principle and enforceable standards are relevant to the topic below.


Ethical Supervision of Trainees in

Professional Psychology Programs

Supervision is a primary means by which students in professional psychology programs acquire and develop

skills needed to provide effective and ethical mental health services (Shallcross, Johnson, & Lincoln, 2010).

Competent and ethical supervision provides a foundation for the attitudes, skills, and commitment supervisees

will need to know what is right and the motivation for self-evaluation and lifelong learning necessary to do

what is right throughout their careers (see Chapter 3).

Supervisors have a fiduciary obligation to their supervisees, the clients/patients under the supervisees’ care,

and the public (Principle B: Fidelity and Responsibility). They must (a) nurture the supervisees’ professional

skills and attitudes, (b) ensure that supervisees’ clients/patients are provided appropriate mental health treatment,

and (c) serve as gatekeepers who take appropriate actions to prevent supervisees not able to demonstrate

the needed professional competence from entering the profession and practicing independently

(Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence; Barnett et al., 2007; Bernard & Goodyear, 2004). Supervision

should be marked by mutual respect, with supervisor and supervisee both contributing to the process of establishing

goals and role responsibilities (Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity; Pettifor, McCarron,

Schoepp, Stark, & Stewart, 2011). The goal of this Hot Topic is to describe the competencies needed to provide

effective and ethical supervision, desired outcomes on which to fairly evaluate supervisee performance, and

how trainees can contribute to their supervisory experience.

Competencies for Effective Supervision

Efforts to provide faculty with the skills necessary for competent supervision has not kept pace with psychology’s

growing commitment to a culture of competence in training and supervision (Standard 2.01, Boundaries

of Competence; DeMers, Van Horne, & Rodolfa, 2008). Competencies for effective supervision include professional

knowledge and expertise and the interpersonal skills necessary to create a trusting supervisory alliance

(Falender et al., 2004). A competence-based approach to supervision also requires techniques for successfully




Copyright © 2013 by SAGE Publications, Inc.

Chapter 10 Standards on Education and Training —— 217

monitoring, assessing, and providing feedback to trainees and an emphasis on self-reflection and self-assessment

on the part of supervisor and trainee (N. J. Kaslow, Falender, & Grus, 2012).

Professional Knowledge and Expertise . Supervisors must have the necessary clinical knowledge and expertise

to identify client mental health needs within a diversity-sensitive context, guide supervisees in clientappropriate

treatment techniques, and recognize when clients are not responding to supervisee interventions

(Accurso, Taylor, & Garland, 2011). They must also be familiar with academic credit or credentialing supervision

requirements, on-site institutional policies, and relevant laws as well as appropriate risk management strategies.

Finally, supervisors must fully integrate into the supervisory process the profession’s ethical values and

standards (Barnett et al., 2007; Gottlieb et al., 2007). This includes the following:

• Discussion of informed consent, confidentiality and disclosure decisions, avoidance of harmful multiple

relationships, attention to personal problems, or biases that may interfere with treatment efficacy

• Consistent monitoring of and feedback on supervisee ethical practices

• Preparing students for orderly and appropriate resolution of client responsibility when the training rotation


• Maintaining appropriate boundaries and avoiding exploitative or harmful multiple relationships

• Preparing students for orderly and appropriate resolution of client responsibility when the training rotation


• Maintaining appropriate boundaries and avoiding exploitative or harmful multiple relationships

Interpersonal Competencies . The supervisory context should encourage open discussion of treatment challenges

and attempt to try new strategies by providing constructive feedback in a manner that minimizes

trainee anxiety and decreased feelings of self-efficacy (Barnett et al., 2007; J. A. Daniels & Larson, 2001). At

the same time, supervisors cannot shy away from providing negative feedback when it is necessary to ensure

that clients are receiving adequate care and that their evaluations of supervisee clinical acumen is objective

and in accord with the standards of the profession.

Structuring the Supervisory Process

Structuring the supervisory process requires the ability to tailor training to the supervisee’s level of competence,

identify appropriate outcome measures for evaluation, and present clear standards for assessment.

Identifying Supervisee’s Competencies . The goals and desired outcomes of a training experience need to

be tailored to the supervisee’s current competencies in relation to client needs and institutional requirements.

To meet obligations to trainees and the trainees’ clients, supervisors need to evaluate each supervisee’s developing

competence and the clinical responsibilities with which he or she can be entrusted (Falender &

Shafranske, 2007; Standard 2.05, Delegation of Work to Others).

Identifying Appropriate Training Outcomes . Evaluations must be based on the supervisee’s actual performance

on relevant and established requirements (Standard 7.06, Assessing Student and Supervisee

Performance). Falender and Shafranske (2007) identified the following abilities by which the trainee’s professional

growth can be evaluated:

• Apply clinical knowledge and skills in a consistent fashion and incorporate new knowledge into existing


• Deal with increased confusions and varied situational aspects that shape clinical work.

• Respond to constructive feedback.

• Carry out recommendations to ensure adequate client care.




Copyright © 2013 by SAGE Publications, Inc.


• Use problem-solving and clinical reasoning skills appropriate to specific clinical tasks and ethical challenges.

• Master technical and facilitative variables appropriate to the students’ stage of training.

Feedback and Evaluation . Standard 7.06 also requires that supervisors establish a timely and specific process

for providing feedback to supervisees and explain the process to trainees at the beginning of supervision.

This includes delineating setting-specific competencies the supervisee must attain for successful completion of

the supervised interval (Falender & Shafranske, 2007).

Meaningful evaluations, scheduled at predetermined intervals, provide trainees with adequate time to

improve their skills and the supervisor with opportunity to evaluate the trainee’s responsiveness to constructive

feedback. When supervisees are unresponsive, fail to demonstrate needed competence, or exhibit impaired

professional competence as a result of personal problems, these issues should be addressed in supervision and

the trainee should be provided reasonable opportunities for remediation or intervention. When necessary, the

supervisor must act to prevent inappropriate actions resulting in poor-quality client care, violation of ethical

standards, or harm to the institution through the supervisee’s violation of policy or law. When appropriate,

supervisors should inform their institution or the students’ academic program and provide a written report

documenting the reasons for their concerns (see Gizara & Forest, 2004).

Enhancing the Supervisory Experience

The quality of clinical supervision will significantly affect students’ development as competent and ethical


Externships and internships in professional psychology programs are often off-site and supervised by nonfaculty

members. When applying for training at these sites, students should obtain the following information:

• Has the graduate program and externship training site entered into a formal relationship that includes

articulation of specific training goals and standards, open communication between program faculty and

on-site supervisors, and a system of formalized feedback from students regarding the quality of the

training experience?

• Who in their graduate program or externship or internship site can students go to if they have a problem

with an off-site supervisor? Is there a formal complaint process?

• If a supervisor is providing inadequate training, will the department or training site assist the student

in obtaining the necessary clinical experience and supervision?

Competent practice in professional psychology requires an understanding of and adherence to ethical

standards, institutional policy, and law. Supervisees should be provided copies of the relevant agency policies

and procedural manuals, including mandatory and discretionary reporting policies and steps to be taken in

case of an emergency. Supervisees should also be made aware of the nature of routine institutional intake

procedures and their own responsibilities regarding obtaining informed consent and communicating to clients/

patients information regarding HIPAA policies, confidentiality policies, the fact that they are in training, and

the name and contact information of their supervisor (10.01, Informed Consent to Therapy).

Self-reflection and the motivation to improve one’s clinical knowledge and skills are fundamental to good

practice. Supervisees should take an active role in constructing a meaningful learning experience. To help their

supervisors in establishing appropriate training experiences and evaluation criteria, supervisees should be

encouraged to be frank when asked to discuss their current level of clinical competence and training goals and

to continue throughout the training experience to ask for additional or more focused training in a specific area

of clinical concern, including asking the supervisor about APA Ethics Code requirements and how they relate

to current treatment issues.




Copyright © 2013 by SAGE Publications, Inc.



Standards on

Research and Publication

8. Research and Publication

8.01 Institutional Approval

When institutional approval is required, psychologists provide accurate information about their

research proposals and obtain approval prior to conducting the research. They conduct the

research in accordance with the approved research protocol.

The Nuremberg Code (1949), the first international document establishing

participant rights in research was created in response to the notorious involvement

of German Nazi doctors in medical research on concentration camp prisoners

without their consent. In the United States, however, regulations protecting the

rights of human research participants did not emerge until the late 1970s, following

the 1972 public disclosure of the government-sponsored Tuskegee Syphilis

Study. In this 30-year study, 399 African American rural men were left untreated

for diagnosed syphilis even after effective antibiotics became available (J. H. Jones,

1993). Over time, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Title 45–Part 46 Protection

of Human Subjects (DHHS, 2009) has undergone a number of additions and now

includes a general section on research protections (Subpart A, known as the

Common Rule) and subsections specifically detailing special protections for

pregnant women, fetuses, and neonates (Subpart B), prisoners (Subpart C), and

children (Subpart D).

Under these regulations, IRBs are charged with ensuring that investigators protect

the rights and welfare of research participants. Specific IRB requirements

reflect three general moral principles proposed in the landmark Belmont Report

written by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of

Biomedical and Behavioral Research (NIH, 1979): beneficence, justice, and respect.




American Psychological Association (2015). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.  Retrieved from:

Fisher, C. B. (2013). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.



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