Communicating Effectively to Obtain Supervision of Professional Practice

Article excerpt

COMMUNICATION MATTERS

School psychologists are expected by parents, students, and their profession to maintain their competency to ensure the appropriate delivery of psychological services. Supervision by a school psychologist is a prime method for maintaining skill levels and updating professional services. Unfortunately, many school districts do not understand the critical importance of such professional supervision, versus administrative supervision, and have school psychologists supervised by nonschool psychologists who cannot provide the level of guidance and support necessary. In fact, Chafouleas, Qonan, and Vanauken (2002) found that only 55% of school psychologists receive formal supervision and only 13% of school psychologists receive informal supervision. This indicates that school psychologists are likely not getting enough administrative or professional supervision, and they may not be accessing alternate methods of supervision to meet recommendations from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). School psychologists are responsible for seeking out and advocating for proper supervision when it isn't provided. This column highlights key information and effective strategies to communicate to supervisors and/or peers your supervision needs and the benefits to students.

EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE AND STANDARDS

The NASP Model for Comprehensive and Integrated School Psychological Services (2010a) supports supervision and delineates six organizational principles that are necessary for systems employing school psychologists. Organizational Principle 5: Supervision and Mentoring (NASP, 2010a) clearly outlines and defines the importance of supervision for both the school psychologist and school psychology unit. Additionally, the NASP Principles for Professional Ethics (2010b) frequently refers to supervision. According to the NASP professional ethics, clinicians should continuously receive supervision, seek it if they lack expertise or cultural competency, and consult with peers and supervisors in order to resolve ethical issues.

The NASP position statement on Supervision in School Psychology (2011) recommends supervision for all school psychologists regardless of experience with more intensive supervision at a minimum of 1 hour weekly for the entry-level school psychologist. The position statement defines professional supervision as

... an ongoing, positive, systematic, collaborative process between the school psychologist and school psychology supervisor. This process focuses on promoting professional growth and exemplary professional practice leading to improved performance by all, including the school psychologist, supervisor, students, and the entire school community, (p. 1)

Administrative supervision focuses more on job duties and the functioning of the school psychology unit. Professional supervision deals with ensuring professional growth andmeeting standards specifically related to school psychology practice. NASP (2011) recommends professional supervision that matches the developmental level of the school psychologist and is available at the frequency necessary to meet the professional needs of the individual school psychologist and the school psychology services unit. The following communications model provides a structure for advocating for this level of supervision.

TIER 1: BEFORE EMPLOYMENT

How does a school psychologist find a system that provides and meets supervision standards as outlined by the NASP principles? In a basic way, a school psychologist must be intimately familiar with the NASP principles and clearly interview the system prior to accepting an employment opportunity. The following questions may assist the school psychologist in this process:

* Is there a coordinated school psychology services unit lead by a credentialed school psychologist?

* Is the lead school psychologist available for professional supervision? …