Reply To: Week 5 Homework Assignment (Ethical Issues in Clinical Supervision)

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A) What are some of the strategies you would employ to initiate and facilitate a discussion about the distinction between self-disclosure as a boundary crossing or boundary violation in your treatment team meeting?
I would be diligent in my efforts to create an open and safe space for conversation about difficult topics. I would work to communicate without judgment, and teach my supervisees communication skills that would allow them to do the same. I often enjoy hypothetical role plays, followed by open discussion of various points of view, as a way of stimulating conversations that do not feel pointed at any specific person. I would sometimes see myself proactively as a teacher, sharing information such as what this course offers, hopefully offering new ideas for supervisees to learn, such as the nuances that make a boundary crossing and a boundary violation so different from one another. I would lean towards having difficult conversations about a specific issue/problem with individuals, rather than in a team setting, in hopes of being able to have problem-solving discussion in an open and nonjudgmental fashion. I would definitely prefer a setting in which I do not have dual roles as clinical and administrative supervisor, as this does complicate the situation.
B) Which of the supervisor roles (consultant, advisor, guide, mentor, professional colleague, educator) fits with your values and supervisory style? Which of these stances would you take in the conversation with the team and why?
I tend to see myself as a guide. I prefer to help supervisees come to their own conclusions, as they puzzle through the situation. I would feel it necessary to make sure they have the necessary tools at their disposal (i.e., codes of ethics), but I do not like to give answers to them, as I feel this does not give them the opportunity to develop their own clinical judgment. I do enjoy teaching as well, but I would probably set aside specific times for sharing that type of information, and even then, it would be made relevant to the setting, so it can be put into practice.
Exercise 2
Describe 2–3 useful ideas and/or strategies about supervision and ethics that you have learned or been reminded of over the course of the past 5 weeks that you would like to bring back to your colleagues, supervisees, supervisor, administrators, etc. How do you envision integrating these ideas into your work?
Because I have been in private practice, and haven’t been a supervisor in a long time, this course was a great reminder about the complexity of the supervisor/supervisee relationship, and the parallels it holds to the clinician/client relationship. It reminded me of past supervision experiences where I felt we successfully navigated difficult situations, as well as a time that I remember really feeling that I made a mistake as a supervisor, and the work I had to do to recreate an open and safe space in which we could trust our relationship again.
I was reminded about how important it is to consult the codes of ethics when making difficult decisions. There are guidelines that are helpful, and there are people in the various professional organizations who are also guides when needed.
Finally, I was reminded of the importance of healthy vs. unhealthy personal disclosure in treatment and in supervision. The question “who is this for?” is so important, and really such a simple guideline. Obviously we care for our clients. If we didn’t, we shouldn’t be in this line of work. It would be easy to overstep and become too personal. This simple question should always be in the back of our brains, and used on a regular basis.