Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Case # 18

Case # 18 Brief Summary
In case # 18 (Herlihy and Corey, 2006), a doctoral student is supervising the internship of a former friend and colleague. After the first several weeks of the semester, the intern becomes less responsive to her supervisor's requests and feedback. The dual relationship does not seem to be working for the supervisor/supervisee relationship. The supervisor seeks help but has not been able to resolve the issue.

Dual Relationships

The ACA (2005) Standard F.3.d. advises against accepting relatives or friends as supervisees. If the doctoral student had immediately notified her supervisor that she had a relationship with the intern, she could have made other arrangements for the intern and supervised another intern. If she had considered there might be a potential benefit to the dual relationship as stipulated in Standard F.3.e., she should have discussed and documented the rationale for thinking the interaction would work and consulted with her supervisor about the possible conflict (ACA, 2005).

Although the doctoral student has sought help from her supervisor, she should revisit the issue with him before the problem escalates. She may need to meet with the intern and express her concerns, re-clarify the boundaries of their relationship, and let her know she will have to "red flag" her if she continues to fail to fulfill the requirements of her internship. The supervisor should review the boundaries of their professional relationship with the intern and her responsibilities in the supervisee relationship.

The ACA (2005) Standard F.4.d. states that supervisors and supervisees have the right to terminate the relationship with adequate notice. Every effort should be made to rectify the situation prior to making this determination, however. The supervisor would refer the intern to another appropriate supervisor. In this case, it would be better to terminate the relationship.

The AMHCA (2009) Standard III.5. advises counselors against engaging in dual/multiple relationships that could cause bias in their judgment. Standard III.10 states the expectations of monitoring the supervisee that includes regular meetings, review of case records, and direct observation of supervisee's clinical work. The supervisee/intern cannot breach her responsibilities in her relationship with her supervisor. Standard III.11. states the stipulations of informed consent. The supervisor should review any breaches agreed upon during their initial meeting when the informed consent was signed.

Best Solution

The best possible solution would be for the doctoral student to realize the gravity of her mistake and let her supervisor know she should no longer engage in supervising the intern with whom she has had a previous friendship. She would need to clarify her position with the supervisee/intern and let her know that they should not continue the dual relationship. The doctoral student's supervisor will find an alternate supervisor for the intern.

One example in which the counselor should seek immediate supervision or consultation is when the counselor realizes he or she has made an error in judgment, action, or decision. Rather than to try to resolve the issue by oneself, using the 'two heads are better than one' theory, the counselor will benefit and probably find easier resolve with the help of a supervisor or consultant. Once an error has been made, resolution often becomes more complex and it is wise to gain the help of a peer or supervisor.

I would also seek consultation if I thought I was ineffective with a particular client. Especially as a new counselor, I would want to make sure I was giving the process enough time without subjecting a client to ineffective therapy.

Ethical Model

For this case, I would use Welfel's' model for ethical decision making (Cottone & Claus, 2000). If I have developed ethical sensitivity, this model seems like a good fit because it includes two steps important in this situation - consulting with the supervisor and peers as well as informing supervisor of the chosen action. I also appreciate the last step of reflecting on the experience.


American Counseling Association (ACA). (2005). 2005 ACA code of ethics [White Paper]. Retrieved from the ACA website: http://www.counseling.org/Files/FD.ashx?guid=ab7c1272-71c4-46cf-848c-f98489937dda

American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). (2010). 2010 AMHCA code of ethics [White Paper]. Retrieved from the AMHCA website: https://www.amhca.org/assets/news/AMHCA_Code_of_Ethics_2010_w_pagination.pdf

Cottone, R. R., & Claus, R. E. (2000). Ethical Decision-Making Models: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Counseling & Development, 275-283.

Herlihy, B., & Corey, G. (2006). ACA Ethical Standards Casebook (Sixth ed.).

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