AAMFT Approved Supervisors and supervisor candidates are bound by the AAMFT Code of Ethics, and the Responsibilities and Guidelines included in the Approved Supervisor Designation Standards and Responsibilities Handbook.
AAMFT Approved Supervisors and supervisor candidates may supervise trainees who are seeking AAMFT Clinical Membership. When a supervisor candidate provides the supervision, he/she must obtain ongoing supervision mentoring from a current AAMFT Approved Supervisor.
AAMFT Approved Supervisors are often asked to supervise individuals who are seeking licensure as MFTs. These Responsibilities and Guidelines provide direction for the conduct of clinical supervision. When supervising a trainee for licensure, Approved Supervisors should also seek information from the relevant state/provincial regulatory board to become familiar with the requirements specific to that state/province’s regulation. This will include criteria, if specified, for who may offer supervision in that state/province, and requirements that the trainee must meet. Approved Supervisors are looked to for guidance, and are responsible for being familiar with the relevant guidelines and thereby able to properly advise supervisees.
Supervision of marital and family therapy is expected to have the following characteristics:
- Face-to-face conversation between the MFT/MFT trainee and the supervisor, usually in periods of approximately one hour each.
- The learning process should be sustained and intense.
- Appointments are customarily scheduled once a week, three times weekly is ordinarily the maximum and once every other week the minimum.
- Supervision focuses on raw data from a MFT’s/trainee’s continuing clinical practice, which is available to the supervisor through a combination of direct live observation, co-therapy, written clinical notes, audio and video recordings, and live supervision.
- It is a process clearly distinguishable from personal psychotherapy and is contracted in order to serve professional goals.
- It is normally completed over a period of one to three years.
The following characteristics are not acceptable as marriage & family therapy supervision:
- Peer supervision, i.e., supervision by a person of equivalent, rather than superior, qualifications, status and experience.
- Supervision by current or former family members or any other person where the nature of the personal relationship prevents or makes difficult the establishment of a professional relationship.
- Administrative supervision by an institutional director or executive, for example, conducted to evaluate job performance or for case management, not the quality of therapy given to a client.
- A primarily didactic process wherein techniques or procedures are taught in a group setting, classroom, workshop or seminar.
- Consultation, staff development or orientation to a field program, or role-playing of family interrelationships as a substitute for current clinical practice in an appropriate clinical situation.
An Approved Supervisor or supervisor candidate must not supervise his or her family members, former family members, clients in therapy, or any other person with whom the nature of the relationship prevents or makes difficult the establishment of a professional supervisory relationship. Refer to the AAMFT Code of Ethics for more information and guidance about multiple relationships in supervision.
Supervisors are responsible for an initial screening to evaluate the MFT’s/MFT trainee’s knowledge of systems theory, family development, special family issues, gender and cultural issues, systemic approaches and interventions, human development, human sexuality, and ethical responsibilities.
A contract should be developed for the supervision, which delineates fees, hours, time and place of meetings, case responsibility, caseload review, handling of suicide threats, other dangerous clinical situations, and so forth. Supervisors should recognize their legal responsibilities for cases seen by supervisees.
The supervision fee is a function of the contract between supervisors and MFTs/trainees, including amounts and collection procedures. Fees should be in keeping with the community standard. Approved Supervisors and supervisor candidates are encouraged to commit a portion of their supervision practice to providing pro-bono or reduced fee supervision to deserving MFTs/trainees.
The major emphasis on supervision should be on the MFTs/trainee’s work with marriage/couple and family process, whether the MFT/trainee is working with individuals, couples or families. During the supervision session, the MFT/trainee’s cases, not the supervisor’s, are to be discussed.
To count toward AAMFT Membership, individual supervision must be limited to one or two MFTs/trainees in face-to-face sessions with the supervisor. Group supervision must be limited to six supervisees. Trainees in group supervision sessions may not count the time as individual supervision even if they are presenting a case. They may count time as individual supervision when providing therapy while the supervisor and a group are observing the therapy.
The progress of MFTs/trainees should be periodically reviewed according to pre-determined supervisory goals, and evaluations should be shared and discussed with trainees. Should a supervisor develop significant concerns about the abilities, philosophical beliefs, or practices of an MFT/trainee, the concerns must be shared with the MFT/trainee and documented in writing as early as possible. Supervisors do not disclose MFT/trainee confidences except in limited circumstances described in the AAMFT Code of Ethics. Supervisors and MFTs/trainees must have a clear understanding about responsibility for evaluations as well as specific details about how the evaluation will be shared.
Supervisors must provide supervision reports as needed by MFTs/trainees, such as those required for AAMFT membership. The supervisor’s signature on the forms verifies the accuracy of the information reported, so the supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the MFT/trainee has actually completed the clinical and supervision hours reported. When supervision is provided by a supervisor candidate who has not yet been awarded the Approved Supervisor designation, the MFT/trainee should be provided with a completed Supervisor Candidate Verification Form verifying that the candidate is in ongoing supervision mentoring.
The Approved Supervisor’s Role with Regard to AAMFT Membership Requirements and Licensure Requirements: Supervisors must ensure that they are familiar with current AAMFT membership requirements. Since applicants for AAMFT membership must meet standards in place at the time of their application, the supervisor should encourage them to apply for AAMFT membership at the level for which they are currently qualified (student, associate, affiliate or Clinical Membership). By doing so, supervisors and MFTs/trainees will know exactly what additional requirements must be met in order for the MFT/trainee to obtain Clinical Membership.
If the MFT/trainee intends to apply for MFT licensure, and use the supervision being provided to fulfill those licensure requirements, the Approved Supervisor should also be familiar with licensure requirements in the state/province concerned.
AAMFT membership applications and files are confidential. Therefore, the AAMFT membership evaluators can discuss their content with the membership applicant only, not with the applicant’s supervisor. Supervisors should tell MFTs/trainees that despite their responsibility to evaluate the trainee’s knowledge, only the AAMFT can determine when membership requirements have been met.
Approved Supervisors who choose not to maintain Clinical Membership with the AAMFT must make a special effort to stay up-to-date on the latest AAMFT membership requirements, since these non-members will not learn of membership changes through the traditional routes of member communication (i.e., member emails and mailings). All AAMFT Approved Supervisors are strongly encouraged to maintain Clinical Membership in the AAMFT.
AAMFT Approved Supervisors may be asked to serve as the mentor for a marriage and family therapist who wishes to become an Approved Supervisor. Before accepting the responsibility of mentoring a supervisor candidate, the Approved Supervisor should be thoroughly familiar with the current requirements for becoming an Approved Supervisor.
Approved Supervisors must have accumulated a total of 300 hours of MFT supervision experience before they can provide supervision mentoring to supervisor candidates. The 300 hours can include the 180 hours of supervision the Approved Supervisor provided during his/her own training for the designation.
Approved Supervisors are responsible for an initial screening to evaluate the prospective supervisor candidate’s familiarity with the important literature in MFT, theories of supervision, supervision practice, and professional ethics. Supervisor candidates should be able to effectively apply a systemic perspective. If supervisor candidates are not AAMFT Clinical Members, the Approved Supervisor mentor should direct them to the AAMFT for an evaluation to ensure they can meet the requirements for Clinical Membership by the time they intend to apply for the designation.
Before a prospective supervisor candidate begins to train for the designation, they and their Approved Supervisor mentor should review the requirements for becoming an Approved Supervisor, verify that the candidate meets the prerequisites for becoming a supervisor candidate, and have an adequate plan for meeting the application requirements.
A contract between the Approved Supervisor mentor and the supervisor candidate should be developed which delineates fees, hours, time and place of meetings, case responsibility, caseload review, handling of suicide threats and other dangerous clinical situations, and so forth. The schedule of meetings should be such that the supervisor candidate is able to complete the requirements in the time limits specified for training.
The fee for supervision mentoring is a function of the contract between Approved Supervisors and the supervisor candidate, including amounts and collection procedures. Fees should be in keeping with the community standard. Approved Supervisors are encouraged to provide supervision mentoring to deserving supervisor candidates on a pro-bono or reduced fee basis.
Responsibility of the Approved Supervisor in the Mentoring of Supervision Candidates:
When an Approved Supervisor agrees to mentor a supervisor candidate during their training for the Approved Supervisor designation, the Approved Supervisor mentor assumes responsibility for overseeing the training, providing supervision mentoring, evaluating the candidate’s progress, and assisting the candidate in making the final application for the designation. This requires the Approved Supervisor to be completely familiar with eligibility criteria, supervisory training requirements and application procedures as described in the Approved Supervisor Designation Standards and Responsibilities Handbook, October 2007. It is the Approved Supervisor’s responsibility to mentor and socialize the supervisor candidate into the family therapy supervision tradition through an intensive emphasis on the nine learning objectives.
The Approved Supervisor mentor should maintain a strict log of supervision mentoring, and review the supervisor candidate’s log of supervision that the candidate is providing to MFTs/trainees. A sample of a supervision log can be found by clicking here. The Approved Supervisor mentor will be asked to verify these hours at the time of the candidate’s application for the designation. The Approved Supervisor mentor must ensure that the hours counted by the supervisor candidate were actually spent in case discussion, and on the development of the candidate’s supervisory skills. Hours spent discussing the requirements for the designation, or on completing the Approved Supervisor application packet, should not be counted as hours toward the supervision mentoring requirement.
Supervision mentoring is expected to have the following characteristics:
- It must focus primarily on live or audio taped/videotaped sessions of the supervision candidate’s work with a MFT/trainee.
- It must include no more than two supervisor candidates at the same time. Supervision mentoring of a group of supervisor candidates does not count toward fulfilling the requirements.
- It must consist of face-to-face conversation between the Approved Supervisor mentor and the supervisor candidate, usually in periods of one hour each.
- The major emphasis should be on the development of the supervisor candidate’s supervisory skills as opposed to an exclusive focus on clinical therapy skills.
Work supervised is to be conducted in appropriate professional settings with adequate facilities. The Approved Supervisor mentor must be available to the supervisor candidate in emergency situations or arrange in advance for a colleague to provide emergency consultation if needed by the supervisor candidate.
The Approved Supervisor mentor must evaluate and provide regular feedback to the supervisor candidate about progress, strengths, and areas in which professional development are needed. It is recommended that after half of the required hours of supervision mentoring have been received, the Approved Supervisor conduct a mid-term evaluation. (Some suggestions for the evaluation can be found by clicking here.) Any concerns that could affect the candidate’s eventual application for the Approved Supervisor designation should be documented, along with a proposed plan to address them, and both should be shared with the supervisor candidate. Approved Supervisors and supervisor candidates must have a clear understanding about the responsibility for evaluations and reports as well as specific details about how they will be shared.
While the evaluation and feedback process should be ongoing, the Approved Supervisor mentor will be asked to complete a written Approved Supervisor Evaluation of the candidate when the candidate is ready to apply for the designation. If the Approved Supervisor rates the candidate below an acceptable level on any of the evaluation criteria, the mentor and candidate should develop a specific plan for remediation. This could include additional reading or specific discussions in supervision mentoring sessions.
If, at any time, concerns develop between an Approved Supervisor mentor and a supervisor candidate about their relationship, or the competence or behavior of either, the matter should be documented and discussed between the two. If the discussion does not lead to a mutually agreeable plan and all other means of resolving the matter have been exhausted (grievance procedures at the institution or agency, for example), the Approved Supervisor mentor and supervisor candidate may consider consulting with another AAMFT Approved Supervisor. If the matter still cannot be resolved, the mentor and/or candidate should consult with the AAMFT supervision staff before proceeding with further sessions.
Supervisors do not disclose supervisee confidences except in limited circumstances as described in the AAMFT Code of Ethics.
Approved Supervisors may not provide supervision mentoring to their family members, former family members, clients in therapy, or any other person with whom the nature of the relationship prevents or makes difficult the establishment of a professional supervisory relationship. Although provision of supervision to colleagues and employees in the same organization is a widespread practice, Approved Supervisors must ensure that their judgment is not contaminated by the context. A supervisor supervising a superior, for example, could confuse the hierarchy and place the employee at risk.
When the supervisor candidate has met the requirements for the designation and is ready to submit the Approved Supervisor application, the Approved Supervisor must approve and sign the application materials before the supervisor candidate submits them to the AAMFT. The Approved Supervisor’s signature indicates that she/he believes that ALL requirements for the designation have been met, and further, that the supervisor candidate has successfully integrated the nine learning objectives into a coherent theory and practice of MFT supervision.
With the Approved Supervisor mentor’s signature on the Approved Supervisor application, the AAMFT staff will complete a quantitative review to ensure that all deadlines have been met and appropriate hours earned. If so, the AAMFT will award the Approved Supervisor designation to the supervisor candidate.
Advertising by Approved Supervisors: Approved Supervisors may advertise their designation in the yellow pages, and on business cards, stationery, etc., provided these conform with the principles of the AAMFT Code of Ethics. An example of an appropriate listing is “AAMFT Approved Supervisor.” Approved Supervisors may also list the designation in programs, registers, professional journals, and newsletters. The designation must not be represented as an advanced clinical status.
AAMFT Clinical Members receive a listing on the AAMFT online referral service, TherapistLocator.net. Approved Supervisors who are Clinical Members are encouraged to update their TherapistLocator profile to describe their supervision practice, and to attract potential supervisees.
Advertising by Supervisor Candidates: Supervisor candidates may not list that status in the yellow pages, on business cards, stationery, in programs, registers, journals, etc. The term “supervisor candidate” is used to describe persons who are actively training for the Approved Supervisor designation, but it is not a title or credential and should not be used as such. Supervisor candidates should take care that they do not imply that they have been awarded a designation, or that they will definitely receive the designation at some specified date. Candidates may indicate on resumes that they are in training to become Approved Supervisors, but only if it is clear that the candidate is not an AAMFT Approved Supervisor but is in training for the designation. The term “Approved Supervisor” should not be used until the supervisor candidate officially receives the designation.
If supervisor candidates need to contact prospective MFTs/MFT trainees to offer supervision, the communication should be clearly intended for marriage and family therapists, not clients. The focus of the communication should be the fact that quality training is assured for the prospective MFT/trainee because the supervisor candidate is under ongoing supervision by an AAMFT Approved Supervisor. If supervisor candidates are asked to verify that they are in fact in training for the designation they may use the Supervisor Candidate Verification Form.
AAMFT Approved Supervisor is an MFT who has completed the education, experience and supervision mentoring requirements established by the AAMFT. The Approved Supervisor designation identifies for the MFT community those professionals who have met the AAMFT requirements to provide MFT supervision. It is a designation to identify qualified supervisors, and is not an advanced clinical credential.
Approved Supervisor mentor is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor who has agreed to provide supervision and mentorship to a supervisor candidate who wishes to become an AAMFT Approved Supervisor.
Individual supervision is face-to-face contact between one supervisor and a maximum of two MFTs/trainees. When more than two individuals are receiving supervision, it is considered group supervision.
Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT): MFTs deal primarily with relationships and interaction from a systemic perspective. Thus, the practice of MFT requires special conceptualization and procedures that are distinct from individually oriented therapies. It is the specific expertise in interpersonal relationships, interaction and systems theory that qualifies a professional as an MFT.
MFT clinical experience is face-to-face sessions with clients, usually in periods of approximately one hour each, and practiced according to the ethical standards of the profession, governmental regulation and the AAMFT. The therapy is sustained and intense, as indicated by the needs of clients.
MFT supervision must be the supervision of MFT cases. It is direct supervision provided to an MFT or MFT trainee and may be provided through live observation of the MFT/trainee and/or face-to-face contact between the supervisor and the MFT/trainee. (When the Approved Supervisor or supervisor candidate intends on receiving credit for this supervisory experience, he or she must be clearly responsible for the supervision during this period. Watching another supervisor at work does not count toward this requirement.)
Supervisees (or trainees) are MFTs, or students in training to become MFTs, who are being supervised by an Approved Supervisor or supervisor candidate.
Supervision mentoring is a service provided by an Approved Supervisor to a supervisor candidate as part of the training requirements for the Approved Supervisor designation. This has also been referred to as supervision-of-supervision. The major focus in supervision mentoring is on the development of the supervisor candidate’s supervisory abilities as opposed to an exclusive focus on clinical skills. This experience should focus on live or taped sessions, and may include no more than two supervisor candidates.
Supervisor candidate: A supervisor candidate is a marriage and family therapist who is in the process of meeting the educational, experiential and supervisory training requirements for the AAMFT Approved Supervisor designation. Supervisor candidates are authorized to supervise trainees who are in preparation for AAMFT Clinical Membership, as long as the supervisor candidate receives ongoing supervision mentoring by an AAMFT Approved Supervisor.