If you are a LPC or LMFT supervisor with interns who see clients in your practice or agency, then you are constantly navigating the boundary between clinical and administrative supervision. The licensure codes specify you must remediate your interns, but did your supervisor training teach you how? How do you discipline an intern for an administrative issue? How do you fire an intern if you feel he or she is longer capable of delivering effective services?
The answer is twofold: You must have an effective remediation strategy for clinical issues, and a progressive discipline plan for administrative issues.
LPC (as of this writing): 681.93 (e) (4) If a supervisor determines that the LPC Intern may not have the counseling skills or competence to practice professional counseling under a regular license, the supervisor shall develop and implement a written plan for remediation of the LPC Intern.
LMFT (as of this writing): 801.143 (f) (4) If a supervisor determines that the LMFT Associate may not have the therapeutic skills or competence to practice marriage and family therapy under a regular license, the supervisor shall develop and implement a written plan for remediation of the LMFT Associate.
A good remediation plan:
- Defines the problem in specific, observable, behaviors. You can’t remediate ‘attitude’ or ‘flaky,’ but you can remediate ‘has forgotten to bring case notes four times in the last two months,’ and ‘takes phone calls and answers texts during supervision.’
- Identifies specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, trackable goals (SMART goals) with accountability dates. Here are some examples of remediation tasks:
- Intern must research the LPC rules regarding intern and supervisor liability and write a one page paper – Due March 3, 2016
- Associate must attend supervision one extra hour each week (at the supervisee’s expense) for a total of eight hours for the month of March – Due March 31, 2016
- Intern/Associate must refrain from cell phone use completely during supervision – Due immediately
- May contain a ‘strike 2’ clause if the supervisee struggles to complete the assignments by the specified due dates.
- Contains a paragraph stating that failure to complete the initial and ‘strike 2’ remediation assigments will result in termination of the supervisee relationship.
It is important to mention here that there are two preemptive steps to remediation that I have convered in other blogs: a supervision contract and a process of regular evaluation.
Progressive Discipline Plan
When you have interns or associates who work in your practice or agency, whether they are volunteers, W-2 employees, or some other designation, then you must have a system in place to monitor administrative issues. At achievebalance.org we have a discipline system that offers team members opportunities to correct problems before punishing them. Every year we hold a team-wide meeting to go over our policy and procedures manual (this is another blog post) which includes our Progressive Discipline Plan. Our plan consists of two parts:
- Immediate Disciplinary Action
We believe that engaging in certain types of misconduct should subject a professional to immediate suspension or discharge, rather than allowing opportunity for correction of behavior through progressive discipline steps. The following is a list of examples of conduct for which immediate disciplinary action will be taken:
- Unethical behavior
- Illegal behavior
- Endangering a client
- Disciplinary Steps
Should there be a problem regarding the professional’s adherence to our rules, the professional will be given three opportunities to change the unwanted behavior:
- The professional will be given a verbal explanation of the errant behavior, including a reiteration of what our rules are regarding that behavior. In addition, the professional will be advised of the consequences of further infractions of the rule in question. If no further problems occur regarding the issue raised at the verbal warning stage, no further disciplinary action will be taken.
- If the problem persists, the professional will be given a written explanation of the errant behavior, including a reiteration of what our rules are regarding that behavior. In addition, the professional will be advised that continuation of the problem will lead to suspension or termination. As before, the professional will be given an opportunity to change the unwanted behavior and, if the behavior does not recur, no further disciplinary action will be taken.
- If verbal and written warnings fail to bring about a change in the undesired conduct, the professional will be suspended and will be informed that further occurrences of the conduct will lead to the professional’s immediate discharge, without additional warnings.
- We reserve the right to bypass the disciplinary steps and base our disciplinary action on the severity, frequency or combination of infractions when circumstances warrant immediate action.
- We will document a disciplinary process beginning with the first verbal warning. A report of the disciplinary action will be retained in the professional’s personnel file. Should a challenge arise regarding the disciplinary action in the report, the report may be used in the ensuing grievance proceeding or arbitration.
Would you like more information about remediation, effective progressive discipline plans, evaluation procedures, or policy and procedure manuals? Keep checking our website for great resources!