Legal and Ethical Issues in Clinical Supervision

In-person Seminar 
Instructor: Cathleen Morey, Ph.D., LICSW
Level: Intermediate
CEs: 5.5 
Target Audience: Social workers and other social service providers who are currently providing clinical supervision and have supervised for at least three years.
Course Delivery Method, Format and Instructor Interaction: Live in-person seminar.

Four supraordinate concepts will frame the material covered in this course – aspirational ethics, the supremacy of whiteness in social work ethics, intersectional ethics, and epistemic (in)justice and resistance in the ethics of care. These four heuristics will be used to foster an anti-oppressive approach to ethical issues in clinical supervision by promoting critical inquiry and reflexivity.

This course covers the supervisor’s ethical responsibilities to the supervisory relationship, the supervisee, the client, and the profession. It addresses trust, power, authority, and cultural humility in the supervisory relationship; the importance of assisting the supervisee to integrate personal and professional values and norms into the emerging professional self; the need for boundaries within the supervisory relationship; and ethical decision-making guidelines. Issues related to the ethical care of the client of the supervisee will be reviewed, as well as the supervisor’s ethical obligations to uphold the values and mission of their discipline’s profession. 

The legal doctrine of Respondeat Superior, and the supervisor’s direct and vicarious liability will be described. Practical tools for risk management and supervisory safeguards that protect the supervisor from liability and malpractice claims will be offered. Regulations imposed by state licensing boards governing supervision and the supervisory process will be discussed, as well as ethical standards for digital practice and supervision. 

Participants will have opportunities to discuss and apply the course content to their supervisory practice. We will use the participants’ written supervisory cases, which have been submitted in advance, as well as examples from the instructor’s supervisory experience to facilitate our discussion and exploration of relevant legal and ethical issues. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define the supervisor’s ethical responsibility to the supervisory relationship, the supervisee, the client, and their discipline’s profession
  2. Explain and identify safeguards that protect the supervisor from liability and malpractice
  3. List strategies for risk management
  4. Describe regulations imposed by state licensing boards governing the provision of supervision
  5. Describe ethical standards for digital practice and supervision


Session I: Ethical Responsibilities to the Supervisory Relationship and the Supervisee 
Class Outline Day 1: 2 hours with 10-minute break

Ethical responsibilities to the supervisory relationship

  • Power and authority in the relationship
  • Trust and safety
  • Cultural Humility 
  • Doing “the Right Thing”
  • Ethical decision-making guidelines

Ethical responsibilities to the supervisee    

  • Boundaries and dual relationships

Respect for the supervisee’s values and ethics

Session II: Ethical Responsibilities to the Client and the Profession
Class Outline Day 2: 2 hours with 10-minute break

Ethical responsibilities to the client

  • Informed consent
  • Confidentiality
  • Appropriate treatment
  • Mandatory reporting
  • Ethical use of self

Ethical responsibilities to the social work profession

  • Protection of public confidence
  • Ensure the next generation of practitioners
  • Recognition of our limits and need for training

Session III: Legal Issues in Supervision 
Class Outline Day 3: 2 hours with 10-minute break

Legal issues

  • Direct and vicarious liability of the supervisor
  • Doctrine of Respondeat Superior 
  • Professional malpractice
  • Safeguards against liability and malpractice
  • Risk mangaement
  • State regulatory and licensing considerations
  • Ethical standards in the digital age
Portrait of Cathleen Morey wearing a blue blazer and black top.

Cathleen Morey, M.S.W., Ph.D., LICSW

Adjunct Assistant Professor and Professional Education Instructor
Cathleen Morey is the director of clinical social work at the Austen Riggs Center, an open setting psychiatric hospital and residential treatment center for…
Completion Requirements for In-Person Seminars

To receive a CE certificate, you must attend the entirety of the seminar. Partial credit will not be awarded to those who attend only a portion of the seminar. For live, in-person seminars, participants must sign in and out of the session and complete an evaluation. A link to the online evaluation will be emailed to participants within 24 hours of the conclusion of the course. It is attendee’s responsibility to contact their state licensing board/certification boards to determine eligibility to meet continuing education requirements.

How Will a CE Certificate Be Awarded?

Upon completing the evaluation for the in-person seminar, participants will be emailed their online certificate​ within 30 days of seminar completion​. ​Participants should save and/or print ​the certificate upon receipt for ​their records. Receiving the CE certificate is contingent on completion of the evaluation and signing in and out of the seminar.