When addressing problems that might arise in the supervisory system (Chapter 11), it is also important to view these issues in the context of supervisory responsibilities. As supervisors we are responsible for the maintenance of the training system. We also have an implicit contract with the community (Lee, 1994). Most communities give family therapists a protected title, a scope of practice, the right to privileged communication and, in some states, the power to certify individuals as mentally ill. In return, the community must insist on certain assurances. These include teaching family therapists their obligations under the law, ethical codes, and standards of professional practice, and holding them accountable to these. The community expects that supervisors will be fully aware of the professional conduct of therapists under our supervision, and it holds us accountable for the treatment they provide. The community trusts that our therapists will only treat cases appropriate to their individual professional development augmented by our supervisory support. As a supervisor, you will become the professional who is expected and required to monitor and enforce these standards.
To perform this role effectively, a fundamental requirement is to make sure that your therapists understand their responsibilities under the law. Most of these issues will be specified within your state's regulatory statutes (Sturkie & Bergen, 2000). Typically these statutes will specify a scope of practice, privileges within that scope of practice (e.g., privileged communication), and community responsibilities notwithstanding those privileges, such as obligations with regard to child abuse and neglect, and concerns about client harm to self or others. These statutes and their interpretive regulations will also specify what constitutes professional supervision and if a code of ethics applies in that jurisdiction. Some states reference the AAMFT Code of Ethics (2001) while others define "good moral conduct"