Code of Ethics for Supervisors

The purpose of this Code of Ethics for Supervisors is to establish and maintain a high standard for supervisors within ACCT. It is intended to inform and protect supervisees (Counsellors/ Therapists undergoing supervision).

Ethical standards comprise such values as integrity, responsibility, competence and confidentiality.

This Code of Ethics for Supervisors applies to any of the models of supervision. In consenting to this Code, supervisors reaffirm their assent to all the other Codes of ACCT and accept their responsibilities to supervisees and their clients, their agencies, their colleagues, to the wider community and to ACCT.

Issues of Responsibility

Given that the primary purpose of supervision is to ensure that the supervisee is addressing the needs of the Client:

  1. Supervisees are responsible for their work with the client, and for presenting and exploring as honestly as possible that work with their supervisor.
  2. Supervisors are responsible for helping supervisees reflect critically upon that work.

Supervisors and supervisees are both responsible for setting and maintaining clear boundaries between working relationships and friendships and other relationships and for making explicit the boundaries between supervision, consultancy, therapy and training.

Supervisors and supervisees must distinguish between supervising and the counselling of the supervisee, if there is a dual relationship.

Supervisors are responsible for adhering to the principles embodied in this Code of Ethics as well as the ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Supervisors must recognize the value and dignity of supervisees and clients as people, irrespective of origin, status, gender, sexual orientation, age or belief.

Supervisors must not exploit the supervisee financially, sexually, emotionally or in any other way.

Supervisors are responsible for establishing clear working agreements, which indicate the responsibility of supervisees for their own continued learning and self-monitoring.

Both supervisor and supervisee are responsible for regularly reviewing the effectiveness of the supervision arrangement, and changing it when appropriate.

The supervisor and supervisee should consider their respective legal liabilities to each other; the employing or training organization that they work under (if any); and their responsibility to the client.

Supervision of Students

When working with Student Counsellors/Therapists, supervisors must ensure that the supervision contract includes assessment of the client work. Such assessment is in the best interests of clients, the profession and those responsible for the training of the supervisee.

The criteria by which assessments are to be made must be agreed between supervisees and the training agency, or other bodies responsible for the accreditation of Student Counsellors/Therapists.

All external supervisors must supply reports on student work to the training institute’s assessment panel or professional association, and these reports should be co-evaluated by the student and supervisor.

Managing potential conflicts of interest need to be clear and discussed with the student in advance.

Supervisors need to be sensitive to personal or student issues with any student. The option of referral to an alternate supervisor may be warranted in some situations.

Supervision must be clearly distinguished from personal counselling – students’ needs are to be referred for personal issues which are not directly associated with the counselling skills under supervision. This is based on the risk of a dual relationship impairing a supervisor’s ability to objectively evaluate a student in a dual role and on the recognition that the power differential has the potential to be experienced as coercion for a student who is offered personal counselling by a supervisor.

Disclosure of personal information needs to be restricted to information only as it applies to skills for counselling a client.

Confidentiality and performance evaluation information needs to be carefully balanced.

A protocol for complaint resolution needs to be clearly defined and students need to be encouraged to raise questions, challenges and/or doubts to manage the perceived power differential in a manner which protects student interests.

Issues of Competence

Supervisors have demonstrated competence in supervision. Supervisors should continually seek ways of increasing their own professional development including, wherever possible, specific training in the development of supervision skills.

Supervisors benefit from supervision of their supervision to assist them in monitoring the ethical issues.

Supervisors have a responsibility to monitor and maintain their own effectiveness. There may be a need to seek help and/or withdraw from the practice of supervision, whether temporarily or permanently.

All supervisors should maintain their own practice in Counselling/Therapy or if they have retired have maintained an active practice within the last five years.

Supervisors need a clear understanding of the legal and ethical implications of a supervisory role with both students and clients.

Self-knowledge and managing countertransference are important skills for counsellors. Students need to demonstrate to supervisors that they are competent to manage these issues. Independent personal counselling may be the most ethical means to satisfy a supervisor’s need to evaluate student competence while protecting student confidentiality.

Code of Practice

This Code of Practice is intended to give more specific information and guidance regarding the implementation of the principles embodied in the Code of Ethics for Supervisors.

The Management of the Supervision Work

Supervisors should ensure that their supervisees subscribe and adhere to the ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

A written supervision contract is recommended to clarify expectations - including the format for case presentation, a method of evaluation, recordkeeping, and relevant time frames.

Supervisors should be clear regarding practical arrangements for supervision, especially in regard to the frequency and length of contact time as well as the privacy and safety of the location.

Fees required should be agreed in advance and an increase in fees should be negotiated.

Supervisors and supervisees should make clear the expectations and requirements they have of each other. This should include the manner in which any formal assessment of the supervisee’s work will be conducted. Each party should assess the value of working with the other and review this regularly.

Supervisors should ensure that their supervisees are aware of the supervisor’s qualifications, theoretical approach and method of working. 

Supervisors are expected to keep records of supervision and supervisee evaluations in accordance with provincial and legal requirements, these records should be kept as part of a supervisors clinical records. 

Supervisors should encourage supervisees to track their accumulated client and supervision hours and to keep an up to date log of these hours for their records.