Reply To: Week 1 Homework Assignment (Ethical Issues in Clinical Supervision)

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melissa cormier

What is it like for you to know that you have taken or might take on the duty and responsibility of vicarious liability as a clinical supervisor?

My views on this have shifted throughout my career. When I was a new supervisor, this was terrifying. As I became more comfortable with both my clinical skills and as a supervisor,my ability to seek out others advice grew. If there is a sticky case with one of the clinicians I am supervising, I often seek out peer consultation. I also take my time with decisions now and feel more comfortable slowing down the process of making decisions to make sure we are headed in the safest direction, weighting out different factors. I feel strongly that we have a responsibility to others in our field to offer support, challenge each other, and hold each other accountable for a high ethical and clinical standard. I now enjoy helping younger clinicians process challenging cases and also enjoy more peer consultation for my own clinical practice.

Describe 3 strategies you have already employed or have thought about employing to manage this sense of responsibility so it doesn’t impact your clinical and supervisory work negatively and/or does impact your work in a positive way?

Peer support is an extremely important strategy. I am fortunate to work with a very seasoned clinical team and trust their judgement. I often will seek out multiple clinicians if it is a particularly challenging case to make sure I am getting adequate feedback and support before I make a decision.

Taking my time is another strategy I use frequently. There are very few decisions that need a rapid response in the moment. Giving myself time to challenge my thinking, review facts, process with other clinicians, and review documentation and or other material (such as code of ethics) is now part of my clinical decision making strategy.

I also will consult with legal is I am unsure. We have wonderful legal council that has been extremely helpful to consult when a decision feels a bit messy.

How does your agency support/not support you to manage the legal and ethical responsibility of vicarious liability and how can you advocate for more support if it is lacking?

Part of my clinical role at my agency, is to make sure we have a process in place where clinicians (including myself) feel supported and clinical managers feel supported as well. We offer group supervision and individual supervision. We offer all clinician training through out the year as well. I also meet twice a month with all my clinical managers as a group to discuss clinician issues and offer support to each other. Supervision is key in offering high quality clinical work. We could always do more and I look for opportunities to increase clinical conversations whenever possible.