Technology in the Supervision of Mental Health Professionals: Ethical, Interpersonal, and Epistemological Implications

Technology in the Supervision of Mental Health Professionals: Ethical, Interpersonal, and Epistemological Implications

James R. Stefurak (University of South Alabama, USA), Daniel W. Surry (University of South Alabama, USA) and Richard L. Hayes (University of South Alabama, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-147-8.ch009
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As communication technology is increasingly applied to the training and supervision of mental health professionals, a more robust analysis of how such approaches fundamentally change the relationship between supervisor and supervisee and how these approaches both enhance and limit the outcomes of supervision is sorely needed. In this chapter clinical supervision is defined and discussed and the various technology platforms that have been used to conduct supervision at-a-distance are reviewed along with the supervision outcomes observed in the research literature with each method. The potential for technology to reduce geographic and financial barriers to the provision of quality supervision is discussed. However, the chapter also outlines the potential negative impacts technology might have to the supervisory relationship, the ethical dilemmas posed by technology-mediated supervision, and the ways in which technology-mediated supervision may place limits upon the elements of supervision that rely upon a constructivist epistemology.
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The Mental Health Professions

Before proceeding to a discussion of the nature of supervision, a brief discussion of the nature of the mental health service delivery systems and the mental health professions is warranted to comprehend how technology has been adopted differentially to some degree across such professions. First, what are the mental health professions? Answering that question is not as simple as it might seem. Mental health is a field characterized by professions that have different philosophical traditions with sometimes only subtle differences in the scope of clinical practice that separates them. A potential list of these professions is as follows in no particular order:

  • Professional Counseling (School, Mental Health, Rehabilitation, etc.)

  • Psychology (Clinical, Counseling, School, and Combined-Integrated)

  • Clinical Social Work

  • Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Psychiatry

  • Psychiatric Nursing

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