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General Suggestions for Clinical Supervisors and Supervisees

  1. Assess and evaluate your supervisee/supervisors carefully, methodically and periodically. Formal reviews occur every 16 weeks but ongoing evaluation is encouraged and expected.
  2. Develop a clear contract with your supervisor/supervisee regarding expectations. This should be developed and agreed upon within the first two weeks and periodically reviewed and revised. When will you meet? Where will you meet? Whose responsibility is it to reschedule the supervision time? Who should you contact when your direct supervisor is not available? Is supervision outside scheduled time expected and/or available? Other questions?
  3. Differentiate between being a supervisor and a consultant. Consulting occurs on a regular basis and should be something that occurs on a spontaneous basis. Supervision includes case management, observation, co-therapy and/or formal face to face review of the intern's progress.
  4. Trust your instincts: if something appears to be wrong, clarify it. Are you comfortable with the treatment plan? Are you familiar with all the medical abbreviations, etc?
  5. Remember that some trainees/supervisors will have significant personal issues going on. These should be kept separate but that can't always happen and then it is time to reassess the supervisor/supervisee relationship. Supervisors do not do therapy with fellows and vice-a-versa.
  6. Discuss any signs of distress you see in a supervisor/supervisee (tired, distracted, disinterested, hostile, absent, etc). These are normal human interactions but is it having an impact on training/supervision?
  7. Deal with trainee counter transference: Supervisors should ask about feelings toward clients and supervisees should consider how they interact with certain patients versus other patients.
  8. Re-examine the treatment contract and clients' progress periodically. If patient's are not making significant progress, what is happening in therapy? Does there need to be a change in strategies or therapists?
  9. If the situation becomes troubling or confusing, ask for a videotape or sit in. At least one videotape should be reviewed during the first two months of a rotation.
  10. Carefully read and examine treatment records. All clinic notes must be signed off by your major supervisor where appropriate. The fellow needs the experience of writing treatment notes but the supervisor is the one ultimately responsible for what is in the medical record.
  11. Be alert to seductive behavior and boundary problems in therapy or the supervisory relationship and deal with them early by clarifying the professional issues and limits on the relationship. Check with peers or other supervisors to assess whether you are over reacting or under reacting.
  12. Be aware of your own feelings toward your supervisor/supervisee. What is comfortable, what is not? What is pleasant what is unpleasant?
  13. Consult with the training director or the agency director about any strong reactions you have toward your supervisee/supervisor. Consultation and re-assessment is an important component of learning in supervision. The psychology fellowship is expected to be a continuing evaluation of professional development. Learning does not always happen in an anxiety free environment and is not always effective in high stress situations.
  14. Be alert to your own process during the supervisory hour and during other contacts with your supervisor/supervisee. There are professional limits in supervision and a close mentor relationship does not always develop nor necessarily need to occur for the fellow to learn.
  15. Be aware of how external (organization/personal) forces influence your interactions with your supervisor/supervisee. Institutions are infamous for creating frustration for patients, clients, and professional staff members. How is the environment influencing your effectiveness in assisting the patient? What do you or your patient have control over and how can an eco intervention be more effective if the patient is allowed to be part of the solution?

Adopted from E. Rodolfa, University of California, Davis & K. Taylor, Ohio State University, Expanded by J. Baker, University of Texas Medical Branch