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Your fieldwork hours are the time to gain meaningful experience in implementing clinical procedures related to the BCBA® role such as researching, assessing, documenting, report writing, protocol development and modification, technician observations and training, family involvement, and so many more behavior analytic responsibilities. Your fieldwork experience should be a time of exponential growth in your clinical skillset.

However, more often than not, there are some individuals who don’t feel challenged or experience a growth in their clinical skillset during their supervision. The following are some signs that you may need to break off your supervisory relationship and look for a new supervisor. When entering into your supervisory relationship, your contract should stipulate that either parties can terminate supervision and the contract should specify the number of days that should be provided to notify the other person that supervision is ending.

  1. Cancelling, missing, or forgetting  about supervision meetings.
    Does your supervisor often have to reschedule your supervision meeting or forgets about them altogether? Do you get a call or text after the meeting should have started to let you know they won’t be able to meet? This is disheartening for supervisees looking forward to meeting to ask questions, get feedback, or simply to share successes with their supervisor.
  2. No agenda for the meeting.
    Does it feel like your supervision meetings are not connected from one meeting to the next? Did you bring a clinical question to the last meeting and were given some things to follow up on, but at the next meeting it wasn’t reviewed or discussed? Is there not a flow to the supervision session? Supervision meetings should have agendas and the meetings should be connected to one another by following up on the previous meeting’s agenda items.
  3. No goals for supervision.
    Has your supervisor directly asked you what you want to learn about over the next 2-3 months and actively provided you assignments and activities that align with your supervision goals? Have you written specific goals with your supervisor and developed plans for you to meet those goals through supervision activies and assignments?
  4. You aren’t learning any skills related to assessing, developing intervention, monitoring programs, etc.
    Does your supervision mainly consist of article reviews for fictitious clients or documenting the last 15 minutes of sessions with your client? Are you actively learning how to conduct assessments, write goals, develop protocols, and other responsibilities that behavior analysts conduct throughout their day? The board has strategically increased the percent of supervision required by supervisees. This is intentional in that the goal of supervision should be to gain your bulk of experience in learning to assess, develop goals, plans, and train caregivers and technicians.
  5. No feedback is given other than “great. Thank you.”
    Does feedback utilize a checklist or other rubric when you are given activities or assignmetns to do? Is your feedback constructive or does it consist of 2-3 word phrases? Does your supervisor ever provide ways to improve or point out the specific things that you did well when tasks are assigned to you? Your supervision experience should be more than just you being utilized to get tasks done that other clinicians are too busy to do within your organization. Great supervisors provide constructive feedback that helps you think more analytically and creatively.

A Script for Addressing These Issues:

Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you need. It’s your money and time being spent, and it impacts how well you can perform in a clinical role when you become credentialed.

If your supervisor is providing supervision that looks like the above, it’s time to have a transparent conversation with them in which you say, “I’m concerned that the following things are happening throughout my supervision experience: (list concerns). Moving forward, I would feel more comfortable if the following happened: (list what you want to see). I want to be challenged and to grow and learn as much as possible during my supervision experience. If things don’t change, I will have to look for another supervisor.”

Allow your supervisor the opportunity to correct the concerns you’ve provided, and communicate if you see a change or if you don’t see a change. If you don’t see a change in supervision practices after sharing your concerns, you can communicate the following: “I still have concerns surrounding my supervision that I communicated with you on x date. Due to this, I will be discontinuing supervision effective x date.”

When looking for a new supervisor, reflect on what you know you need from the next supervisory experience and give language to it so that you can clearly communicate that when interviewing for a new supervisor. Additionally check out our blog on 10 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Supervisor.

Practice Ed accepts a very limited amount of individuals for supervision to manage capacity and quality. To see if we are currently accepting supervision students, schedule a 15 minute complimentary session.