By Nancy Langdon
Many of us at PBS wear the hat of “supervisor” or “supervisee.” These relationships are often formal arrangements with parameters specified by an outside organization, like the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). In this month’s training, Kaarin Anderson Ryan and Nancy Langdon discussed the effectiveness of supervision.
We are fortunate to work with practitioners from multiple disciplines, including Behavior Analysts, Certified Teachers, Clinical Psychologists, Mental Health Counselors, and Social Workers. While each profession has its own supervision guidelines, there are a number of commonalities among them. A general goal of supervision is to promote the growth and development of the supervisee through teaching. Protection of the client is an essential component of supervision. The supervisor must monitor the performance of trainees and act as a gatekeeper for the profession. Finally, the supervisor needs to empower the supervisee to practice independently. Historically, supervision was assumed to be almost “osmotic”-- that is, the supervisee absorbed information from the supervisor just through discussion. Today, supervision is recognized as a distinct competency, with a new emphasis on training a supervisor how to supervise.
Practitioners from all areas perform a number of vital functions that should be supervised, including performing intakes, conducting assessments, and developing and implementing intervention. There are other issues that must be monitored as well, such as relationships between staff and clients, boundaries, verbal communication, and written documentation. Supervisors also provide guidance on ethics and legal issues. Supervision can occur individually or in groups. It can involve different modes of input such as supervisee self-report, videotaping of sessions, and direct observation.