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Book Review   |    
William Vogel
Psychiatric Services 2007; doi:
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by Jane M. Campbell; Somerset, New Jersey, John Wiley and Sons, 2005, 304 pages, $34.95 softcover

Dr. Vogel is associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester.

This book is a primer and introduction to the practice of clinical supervision in the mental health field, and as such it should be of interest to anyone who is training to be a supervisor in the field. The various chapters cover all the basics: ethical and legal issues in supervision and models and techniques of supervision.

The author argues that although outstanding teachers and clinicians are generally nominated to be supervisors, the skills that mark good teachers and good clinicians are not necessarily those that make good supervisors. Supervision, she argues, is a profession in its own right, demands special training, and requires special skills all its own. It is vital that the supervisor "recognize the need of supervisees for safety and support, that they understand the reciprocal nature of supervision and the need to promote mutuality of respect; and that they are able to take into account the developmental nature of supervision, and be flexible, and open to customize the supervisor's role."

Three chapters address the different problems associated with the supervision of students who are at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of training. The author makes the vital point that the supervisor must be thoroughly aware of the level at which the supervisee is practicing, because different techniques are appropriate depending upon the supervisee's level.

At the beginning stages of training, it is vital to offer emotional support and reduce the trainees' anxiety. When dealing with beginners, it is important to remember the "golden rule of supervision: treat supervisees the same way you wish to be treated and the same way you wish them to treat clients … it is most important to emphasize relationship issues other than techniques … ask supervisees what they need and want from supervision."

In the intermediate stage, the main tasks are "to move supervisees toward independent functioning and decision making, and to always keep in mind the potential for harm in not challenging supervisees when their behavior might be harmful to the welfare of the client." Campbell stresses the vital need for the use of supervising techniques other than process notes, such as, "using videotape early in the supervisory relationship before problems get out of hand."

In the advanced stages of supervision, "the supervisor must use a collegial rather than a didactic model." The focus in supervision "should be on innovation, research, new theories and intervention strategies, and the continuous integration of these new materials into current practice."

Finally, the book includes a chapter on ethical and legal issues in supervision by Barbara Herlihy, a colleague of Campbell. The chapter deals with a number of issues with which too few supervisors are aware. For example, the supervisor is responsible to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon specific aspects of the supervisory situation, "for the supervisees' negligent acts . . . the lack of supervisors' awareness is not an adequate defense." The legal formula is that the supervisor "knew or should have known" of the supervisees' negligent behavior." If the supervisor's name is on the report, it may be very bluntly put: "if you sign, it is thine."

In summary, this is a well written, useful book that is worth purchasing. It is equally instructive for all mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, couples and family therapists, and nurse practitioners, and I recommend purchasing it.

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