Cobia and Boes (2000) advocate the employment of both professional disclosure statements by supervisors, as well as the development of formal plans for supervision. The intent is to minimize the potential for ethical conflicts regarding informed consent, supervisor competence, due process and supervisee competence, confidentiality, and dual relationships. Ideally, “the strategies increase the opportunities for learning the skills necessary for professional collaboration; establish an environment conducive to open, honest communication; and promote the development of rapport and trust in the supervisory relationship.” (Cobia & Boes, 2000, p. 293) It has been suggested that the document contain the “supervisor’s background, methods to be used in supervision, the responsibilities and requirements of supervisors, supervisee’s responsibilities, policies pertaining to confidentiality and privacy, documentation of supervision, risk and benefits, evaluation of job performance, complaint procedures and due process, professional development goals, and duration and termination of the supervision contract.” (Corey, Schneider-Corey, & Callanan, 2007, p. 367-368)
In my view, the ideal supervisory relationship is much like the ideal therapeutic alliance between a counselor and a counselee… it is a bi-lateral relationship based on trust and mutual respect. The professional disclosure statement effectively sets the expectations, as well as defines the mutual rights and responsibilities of the parties involved. The supervisee stands to benefit by making an informed choice regarding a supervisor, perhaps leading to a more fulfilling and professional growth oriented experience. The supervisor themselves benefit most by the limitation of potential liability. Risk management, on the part of the supervisor, is integral in the process of developing a professional disclosure statement.
In any event, I agree with the authors that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” despite the fact that even the most diligently planned supervisory relationship will not be sufficient to prevent all of the potential ethical dilemmas.
Cobia, D. C., & Boes, S. R. (2000, Summer). Professional disclosure statements and formal plans for supervision: Two strategies for minimizing the risk of ethical conflicts in post-master’s supervision. Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, 78(3), 293-296. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.bellevue.edu:80/login?url=http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.bellevue.edu/pqdweb?did=56614181&sid=1&Fmt=3&clientId=4683&RQT=309&VName=PQD
Corey, G., Schneider-Corey, M., & Callanan, P. (2007). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.