- This Code of Ethics aims to establish standards for supervisors in their supervision work with supervisees and to inform and protect supervisees seeking supervision.
- Ethical standards include integrity, competence, confidentiality, and responsibility.
- This document should be considered alongside the NCHP and NSTT Code of Ethics and Clinical Practice.
- In assenting to this Code, members of the NCHP and NSTT accept their responsibilities to supervisees (and their clients), colleagues, and the NCHP and the NSTT.
- There are various models of supervision. This Code applies to all supervision arrangements.
The Code of Ethics has three sections:
- The Nature of Supervision
- Issues of Responsibility
- Issues of Competence
The Code of Practice has two sections:
- The Management of the Supervision work
The Appendix describes different models of supervision and comments on issues that may be relevant to particular models.
Code of Ethics:
The Nature of Supervision
- The primary purpose of supervision is to ensure that the supervisee addresses the client’s needs.
- Supervision is a formal collaborative process. The term’ supervision’ encompasses several functions concerned with monitoring, developing, and supporting supervisees in their therapeutic role. [This process is sometimes known as ‘non-managerial supervision or ‘consultative support’.]
- To this end, supervision is concerned with:
- The relationship between supervisee and client to enhance its therapeutic effectiveness.
- Monitoring and supporting the supervisee in the therapist role.
- Assisting the supervisee to develop their professional identity through reflection on the work in the context of this relationship which will be both challenging and supportive.
- Clarifying the relationships between supervisee, client, supervisor, and [if any] organisations involved.
- Ensuring that ethical standards are maintained throughout the therapy work.
- Supervision is therefore not primarily concerned with:
- Personal therapy of the supervisee.
- Line management.
(However, the skills associated with these three activities are central to competent supervision).
- The supervisory relationship must, by its nature, be confidential.
- Therapists must not work without regular supervision.
Issues of Responsibility
- Given that the primary purpose of supervision is to ensure that the supervisee is addressing the needs of the client:
- Supervisees are responsible for their work with the client and for presenting and exploring that work with the supervisor as honestly as possible.
- Supervisors are responsible for helping therapists reflect critically upon that work.
- It is essential that both parties can work together effectively.
- Supervisors are responsible (with therapists) for ensuring that they make the best use of the supervision time.
- Supervisors and therapists are responsible for setting and maintaining clear boundaries between working relationships and friendships or other relationships and making explicit the boundaries between supervision, consultancy, therapy, and training.
- Supervisors and therapists must distinguish between supervising and the supervisee’s therapy.
- Supervisors are responsible for observing the principles embodied in this Code and whichever Code of Ethics and Practice their supervisee works to.
- Supervisors must uphold the Equalities, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice Policy
- Supervisors are responsible for encouraging and facilitating the self-development of others whilst also establishing clear working agreements that indicate the responsibility of supervisees for their own continued learning and self-monitoring.
- Both are responsible for regularly reviewing the effectiveness of the supervision arrangement and considering when it is appropriate to change it.
- Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that satisfying their needs is not dependent upon the supervisory relationship, and they should not exploit this relationship.
- The supervisor and therapist should consider their respective legal liabilities to each other, the employing organisation, if any, and the client.
Issues of Competence
- Supervisors should continually seek ways of increasing their professional development, including, wherever possible, specific training in developing supervision skills.
- Supervisors must monitor their supervision work and be prepared to account to their therapists and colleagues for their work.
- Supervisors must monitor the limits of their competence.
- Supervisors are strongly encouraged to arrange their consultancy and support to help them evaluate their supervision work.
- Supervisors have a responsibility to monitor and maintain their effectiveness. Sometimes, their resources are so depleted that they must seek help and withdraw from supervision, whether temporarily or permanently.
- Supervisees should carefully consider the implications of choosing a supervisor who is not a practising therapist. This applies especially to inexperienced therapists.
Code of Practice:
This Code of Practice is intended to give more specific information and guidance regarding implementing the principles of the Code of Ethics for Supervisors.
The Management of the Supervision Work
To establish an effective supervision contract, the following points should be considered:
- Supervisors should inform supervisees about their training, philosophy and theoretical approach, qualifications, and the methods they use.
- Supervisors should be explicit regarding practical arrangements for supervision, paying particular regard to the length of contact time, the frequency of contact time and the venue’s privacy.
- Fees required should be arranged in advance.
- Supervisors and supervisees should make explicit the expectations and requirements they have of each other, and each party should assess the value of working with each other.
- Before embarking on a supervision contract, supervisors should ascertain what, if any, therapeutic or helping relationships the supervisee has had or is currently engaged in. This is to establish any effect this may have on the supervisee’s therapy work.
- If, during supervision, it appears that therapy would be beneficial to a supervisee, the supervisor should discuss the issue and, if appropriate, make a suitable referral to a third party or agency.
- Supervisors should ensure that therapists are given regular opportunities to discuss and evaluate their experiences of supervision.
- Supervisors should regularly review how the supervisee engages in self-assessment and self-evaluation of their work.
- Supervisors should ensure that therapists understand the importance of further training experiences and encourage the supervisee’s professional development in this way.
- Supervisors must make therapists aware of the distinction between therapy, accountability to management, consultancy, support, supervision, and training.
- Because there is a distinction between line management and therapy supervision, where a supervisee works in an organisation or agency, the lines of accountability and responsibility need to be clearly defined between therapist/client, supervisor/supervisee, organisation/client, organisation/supervisor; organisation/supervisee; supervisor/client.
- Supervisors who become aware of a conflict between their obligation to a supervisee and their obligation to an employing organisation will explain to the supervisee the nature of the loyalties and responsibilities involved.
- Where personal disagreements cannot be resolved by discussion between supervisor and supervisee, the supervisor should consult with a fellow professional and, if appropriate, offer to refer the supervisee to another supervisor.
- In addition to the routine self-monitoring of their work, supervisors are strongly encouraged to arrange for regular evaluation of their work by an appropriately experienced consultant.
- Supervisors should, whenever possible, seek further training experience relevant to their supervision work.
- As a general principle, supervisors must maintain confidentiality regarding information about supervisees or clients, with the exception cited below.
- Supervisors must not reveal confidential information concerning supervisees or clients to any other person or through any public medium unless:
- It is clearly stated in the supervision contract that this is acceptable to both parties or
- When the supervisor considers it necessary to prevent serious emotional or physical damage to the client or another party.
- When the initial contract is being made, agreement about the people to whom a supervisor may speak must include those on whom a supervisor relies for support, supervision, or consultancy. There must also be clarity at this stage about the boundaries of confidentiality regarding people [other than the supervisee] to whom the supervisor may be accountable.
- Confidentiality does not preclude the disclosure of confidential information relating to therapists when relevant to the following:
- Recommendations concerning therapists for professional purposes.
- Pursuit of disciplinary action involving supervisees in matters pertaining to ethical standards.
- Information about specific supervisees may only be used for publication in journals or meetings with the supervisee’s permission and with anonymity preserved when the supervisee specifies.
- Discussions by supervisors of supervisees with professional colleagues should be purposeful and not trivialising.
Models of Supervision
- There are different models of supervision. This Appendix outlines the features of some of these models.
This involves a single supervisor providing supervision for one supervisee, who is usually less experienced than themselves in therapy. This is still the most widely used method of supervision. Its long history means that most of the issues requiring the supervisor’s and supervisee’s consideration are well understood, and these are included in the Code of Practice above.
This involves two participants providing supervision for each other by alternating the roles of supervisor and supervisee. Typically, the time available for a supervision session is divided equally.
Group supervision with identified supervisor[s]:
There is a range of ways of providing this form of supervision. At one end of the spectrum, the supervisor, acting as leader, will take responsibility for apportioning the time between the supervisees and then concentrating on the work of individuals. At the other end of the range, the supervisees will allocate supervision time, using the supervisor as a technical resource. There are many ways of working between these two alternatives.
Peer group supervision:
This occurs when three or more therapists are responsible for providing each other’s supervision within a group context. Typically, they consider themselves broadly equal in status, training and experience.
Eclectic methods of supervision:
Some therapists use combinations of the above models for their supervision.
Points requiring additional consideration.
- Certain models require the consideration of some of the points listed below that are additional to the contents of this Code.
- All the points contained elsewhere within the Code of Practice should be considered.
- Sufficient time should be allocated to each supervisee to ensure adequate supervision of the therapy work.
- Some methods are unlikely to be suitable for newly trained or inexperienced supervisees because of the importance of supervisors being experienced in therapy. [e.g., co-supervision].
- Care must be taken to develop an atmosphere conducive to sharing, questioning, and constructively challenging each other’s practice. [e.g., group supervision].
- As well as having a background in therapy work, supervisors should have appropriate group work experience to facilitate this kind of group.
- All the participants should have sufficient group work experience to engage the group process in ways that facilitate effective supervision.
- Explicit consideration should be given to deciding who is responsible for providing the supervision and how the task of supervision will be carried out.
- A consultant should visit these groups from time to time to observe the group process and monitor the quality of the supervision.