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Unformatted text preview: April 1994 EDO-CG-94-17 Ethical and Legal Dimensions of Supervision Janine M. Bernard In recent years, it has become generally accepted that supervision draws upon knowledge and skills that are different than, and go beyond, those of psychotherapy. Similarly, the ethics and legal imperatives regarding supervision both encompass psychotherapy issues and go beyond them. Furthermore, because supervision is a triadic rather than a dyadic relationship, the supervisor must always attend to the need for balance between the counseling needs of clients and the training needs of the counselor. With the increase of litigation in American society over the past generation, ethics and law have become intermingled (Bernard & Goodyear, 1992). It is impor- tant for the supervisor to remember, however, that ethics call the supervisor to a standard of practice sanctioned by the profession while legal statutes define a point beyond which a supervisor may be liable . For our pur- poses here, the functional interconnectedness between ethics and the law will be accepted. Competence Competence is an increasingly complex issue as men- tal health and supervision have become more sophisti- cated enterprises. Implications of both counselor com- petence and supervisor competence will be described here briefly. Counselor competence By definition, a supervisee is a person who is not yet ready to practice independently. It is for this reason that supervisors are held responsible for what happens with clients being seen by the supervisee (Harrar, VandeCreek, & Knapp, 1990). At the same time, counselors must be challenged in order to become more expert. This, then, is the supervisors tightrope: providing experiences that will stretch the counselors ability without putting the client in danger or offering substandard care. Whenever a close call must be made, supervisors must remember that their obligation is to the client, the public, the profession, and the supervisee in that order (Sherry, 1991). Therefore, the supervisor continually decides if the supervisee is good enough on a consistent basis to work with any par- ticular client (ACES, 1993). Supervisor competence First, the supervisor needs to know everything, and more, than is expected of the supervisee. Secondly, the supervisor must be expert in the process of supervision....
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