Law, rules and regulations, not Guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to this Guideline may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations, some citations of which are listed at the end of this Guideline.
5. Using and Providing Supervision
- Social workers in the first three years of professional practice should
acquire frequent and regular individual supervision focused primarily
on improving skills and knowledge in client care and professional development.
You should seek supervision from a more experienced social worker in the
same area of practice or, when that is not possible, from a licensed professional
with experience in that area of practice.
- You should seek consultation with experienced colleagues throughout
your career, particularly whenever you are only minimally qualified in
a specific practice modality or when you believe a client could benefit
from a collaborative approach to service.
- If you are a Licensed Master Social Worker providing clinical social work services under supervision, whether or not you intend to seek licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker or the insurance privilege, you should ensure that your supervisor is qualified and the frequency and duration of the supervision meets the requirements in law.
- Your supervisory relationships are a form of social work practice and
should be governed by the same guidelines that apply to client relationships
with regard to ethical considerations, defining needs, confidentiality,
expectations and responsibilities (see Guideline
2) and establishing appropriate boundaries (see Guideline
- It is your responsibility as the supervisor to ensure that the supervisee
is competent to practice, whether or not the supervisee is licensed. The
supervisor who allows a supervisee to practice a profession without a
license or beyond the supervisee's level of competence, may be subject
to charges of professional misconduct under the Education Law.
- If you are providing supervision in a group setting, the size and duration
of the group should be conducive to participation by all supervisees.
Many agree that groups should be limited to no more than six supervisees
with one supervisor. You may choose to supervise a group of less than
six, based on factors such as your supervisory skills and the qualifications
and needs of the supervisees.
- When deciding to use other than in-person supervision, you should assess
the skills of the supervisee and the purpose of the supervision, including
the limitations of telepractice (see Guideline
- You may find it helpful to conduct an annual progress report with your
supervisee(s). This could include documentation of the supervisee's ability
- Establish professional relationships
- Assess client need and plan appropriate interventions
- Make appropriate interventions
- Be flexible and change interventions in response to changing needs or client preferences
- Assess the supervisee's capacities and skills as a licensed professional
- Work effectively with clients at various levels and in relation to systems, including families, organizations and other groups.
- When you provide supervision you should consider developing with the
supervisee a written agreement that clarifies the responsibilities of
each party, such as:
- Purpose and scope of the supervision
- Learning and development needs of the supervisee and plans to address those needs in supervision
- Structure of the supervision, including but not limited to
- Expected duration of the supervisory relationship
- If other than individual supervision, the number of participants
- Duration/length of each supervisory session
- Frequency of supervisory sessions
- Time and place of supervisory sessions
- Cost (if any) and payment arrangements
- Responsibilities for case materials
- Role expectations of supervisor and supervisee(s)
- Accountability and reporting requirements
- Confidentiality protections.
Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
- Education Law, section 6509(2) - incompetence and negligence
- Education Law, section 6509(3) - impaired practice
- Education Law, section 6509(4) - habitual substance abuse
- Education Law, section 6509(7) - permitting unlicensed practice
- Education Law, section 6509(9) - unprofessional conduct
- Insurance Law, sections 3221(l)(4)(A) and (D), and 4303(I) and (n) - authorizes reimbursement for social work psychotherapy
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(9) - practicing beyond competency and without adequate supervision
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(10) - improper delegation of duties
- Regents Rules, part 29.2(a)(5) - failing to supervise appropriately
- Commissioner's Regulations, part 74.5 - requirements for supervisor and supervision of social work psychotherapy