Respond by Day 4 and validate an idea with your own experience with working with a supervisor who engaged in unethical behavior. Alternatively, you may provide an alternate course of action that your colleague did not discuss for working with an unethical supervisor.

1. C-Bix

Ethics and Supervision

Supervision is required in just about every profession and this is for a good reason because it ensures that the job is being done correctly. In counseling, supervision carries a different meaning because the supervisors are not there to just make sure we don’t mess up, they are there to ensure that our skills are improving and that no harm is coming to our clients or ourselves. The ACA code discusses counseling supervisor’s main obligations as monitoring services provided by supervisees, monitoring client welfare, monitor supervisee performance and professional development and meet regularly with supervisees to review their work and help them prepare for future work with clients (ACA, 2014). Supervision is not for everyone and the quality of supervision that a counselor receives can greatly impact their performance.

Ineffective Supervisor

When I was in my early twenties, I worked for a retail clothing store. My supervisor was a very good salesperson and that is what got her into a management position. After I worked there for a few months, I became friends with this supervisor and we began to socialize outside of work. Once this friendship took place, her ability to supervise me and my ability to take her position seriously became greatly impaired. Although she was friendly she was also very combative when she did not get results from her employees. She had trouble motivating us and was inconsistent with her approaches and implementation of policies. If this supervisor were in the counseling profession, I would have to say that she was extremely unethical. My supervisor had trouble defining appropriate relationships with supervisees which is addressed in standard F.3.a. Extending Conventional Supervisory Relationships (ACA, 2014). Her ineffective supervision impacted my performance in a negative way because I felt that I could get away with a lot because I was best friends with the boss, I had no motivation to perform well. I only worked there for about a year and a half and our friendship did not continue after I moved on to another job.

Effective Supervisor

                After I left the retail clothing store, I began working the front desk at a fitness center. My supervisor was the mother of one of my closest friends which is one of the reasons I got the job. Even though I had a prior relationship with this woman, she was more effective at establishing boundaries. She made it clear that she was my supervisor first and she made clear her expectations of me. She was amazing at encouraging me to do my best and she was honest when I was not working up to my full potential. She was consistent which made every day at work more predictable. Was she perfect? No, but she cared deeply for her employees and we all knew that she had our backs and that she wanted us to excel. If this supervisor were in the counseling profession, I would consider her to be ethical. Under her supervision, I became the top associate and eventually became a manager myself. I still talk to her on a regular basis and value her advice in just about every aspect of life.

Significance of an Ethical Supervisor

In my opinion, a counseling supervisor must be ethical in order to be effective.  A major responsibility of a supervisor is to help counselors increase their skills and ensure that they are serving their clients appropriately (Remley & Herlihy, 2016). I also feel that counseling supervisors serve as role models; we are able to learn by example while being supervised by an ethical supervisor. In a study by Magnuson, Wilcoxon, and Norem (2000), overarching principles of a lousy supervisor were listed as: (1) unbalanced, (2) developmentally inappropriate, (3) intolerances of differences, (4) poor model of professional/personal attributes, (5) untrained, and (6) personally apathetic. If a supervisor can keep these principles in mind, they may be able to avoid these behaviors.

Reporting unethical behavior

                If I were to discover that my supervisor was behaving unethically it would be my ethical responsibility to try to resolve the issue. The ACA Code addresses suspected violations and how to address them by informal resolution if feasible, reporting ethical violations if informal resolution is not appropriate or successful and consultation (ACA, 2014). My first step would be to address the issue with my supervisor informally if appropriate; if this was not successful I would take my complaint to my state licensure and certification board as well as association ethics committees (Remley & Herlihy, 2016).


American Counseling Association (ACA). (2014). 2014 ACA code of ethics [White Paper]. Retrieved July 31, 2017 from

Magnuson, S., Wilcoxon, S. A., & Norem, K. (2000). A Profile of Lousy Supervision: Experienced Counselors’ Perspectives. Counselor Education & Supervision39(3), 189.

Remley, T. P., Jr., & Herlihy, B. (2016). Ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

2.  C-John

Supervision of counselors requires the same set of ethical standards as counseling clients. Because the effectiveness of supervision ultimately impacts the effectiveness of the counseling a client receives, supervision can negatively affect the counselor and the client if not done responsibly. Understanding the guidelines for effective supervision, including how to respond to unethical supervision, is important for counselors to ensure that they are getting the guidance and support they need to do their best work.

Most Effective Supervisor

When I was a middle school teacher in Baltimore City, I had a principal that was one of the best people I have ever worked for. There are several reasons he was so effective in this position, the first being that he was leading from a position of experience. He had been an effective teacher before he began working as a principal, so he had a thorough understanding of what was required and the challenges we might face. He was also consistent; we started each day with a newsletter of sorts that gave us pertinent information for the day. He expected us to have our lesson plans written weekly, and he checked to make sure that we had done so; by maintaining this standard, he was able to ensure that his staff was well prepared and equipped for the day. He took the time to engage with us individually and visit our classrooms, so he always had an idea of what we were doing and how we performed. This helped him in those instances where he had to defend us to a parent or fight to keep us despite budget cuts, because he knew us; he knew if we had integrity, if we were consistent, if we were generally well prepared, if we were thorough. When discipline was required, he was honest and fair. He never expected more of us than he was willing to give, and this was exemplified in all of his dealings with us. I believe that he was an ethical supervisor for several reasons. First, he was an effective teacher, and ethical supervision requires that a person be competent and effective in the area in which they supervise (Remley & Herlihy, 2015). Additionally, he was committed to and comfortable with his role as supervisor, being sensitive to each person under his care (Remley & Herlihy, 2015). He is easily the best boss I’ve ever had, and whenever I see him, I make sure to tell him so!

Least Effective Supervisor

In high school, I worked at the mall at a fast food place that sold smoothies. This was my first job; my manager was one of the most unethical people I’d ever meet. He went grocery shopping in the storeroom, stealing supplies for his personal use. He encouraged us to “milk” the customers—a practice that involves purposely telling customers a higher total and keeping the difference when they pay (because most people don’t pay attention to what totals should be). He also never washed his hands. He was very unethical, because he stole, and lied and was unclean when handling peoples’ food; his attitude couldn’t have been farther from that of an effective supervisor. He embodied those qualities of an poor supervisor— unprofessional, unbalanced, and dispassionate (Wilcoxon, Norein, & Magnuson, 2005). The owner eventually fired him.

How My Performance was Impacted

The first supervisor made me feel empowered. Because we knew he would stand behind us, we were more willing to ensure that we were well prepared, and more willing to try new and engaging things with the kids, because we knew we had his support. My performance was stellar the years I worked under him, because I had the confidence and support to try different things, and his example taught me that it was okay to give more of myself. His experience combined with his consistency and attention, made me a better, more competent professional (Nicoleta, 2015).

The second supervisor made me feel uncomfortable, because I knew that what he was asking me to do was wrong, but there was no recourse for reporting him (the owners were very hands off, and never around). Attempting to follow his “rules” felt totally wrong and I refused; this led to him talking about me with my coworkers and teasing me for being a “goody two- shoes”. His logic was that “the people didn’t really need the extra $0.12 or extra dollar”; my logic was “stealing is wrong”. It was an uncomfortable work environment, made more so by my being ostracized by my coworkers, and I did just enough work to get by. While this experience could have caused lasting damage to my sense of professional competence and feelings of shame and doubt (Reiser & Mmilne, 2017), because I was young and the job was very temporary those feelings didn’t become permanent.

Significance of Having an Ethical Supervisor

Having an ethical supervisor is imperative for developing counseling excellence. Because the supervisor’s role impacts the counselor’s ability to work in an ethical manner (Remley & Herlihy, 2015), it is an essential requirement for the developing counselor. Supervisors that are well-versed in their areas of expertise (standard F.2.a) are able to provide the highest level of ethical supervision to their counseling supervisees (Nicoleta, 2015).

Unethical Behavior by a Supervisor

If a supervisor was behaving unethically, the first step would be to talk to that person directly to see if the issue can be resolved (standard I.2.a; Remley & Herlihy, 2015). If talking to them was unsuccessful, I would consult with a colleague to determine how to proceed. If the circumstances were egregious, I would report the colleague to the state or local licensing board (Remley & Herlihy, 2015), but this would be done as a last resort.



American Counseling Association (ACA). (2014). 2014 ACA code of ethics [White Paper]. Retrieved July 31, 2017 from

Nicoleta, L. (2015). Supervision in career counseling – Theoretical framework and fractical benefits. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences180(The 6th International Conference Edu World 2014 “Education Facing Contemporary World Issues”, 7th – 9th November 2014), 1094-1101. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.02.214

Reiser, R. P., & Milne, D. L. (2017). A CBT formulation of supervisees’ narratives about unethical and harmful supervision. The Clinical Supervisor36(1), 102-115. doi:10.1080/07325223.2017.1295895

Remley, T. P., Jr., & Herlihy, B. (2016). Ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Wilcoxon, S. A., Norem, K., & Magnuson, S. (2005). Supervisees’ contributions to lousy supervision outcomes. Journal of Professional Counseling: Practice, Theory & Research33(2), 31-49.

3.  K-John

Supervision in any job is an important role in a field. Supervision allows for people to have a greater resource to confirm actions or steps taken to solve an issue. “Supervision has been described as an attachment process that involves the development of a bond or working alliance” (Remley & Herlihy, 2016).

Qualities of an effective supervisor is one that does not automatically tell me what I need to improve or solutions but one that rather guides me to the decision by allowing me to work through the process. I feel this way a person can learn and retain the information. Another trait is a supervisor that is well versed in resources weather that be community resources or research information that would be helpful for me to develop my skills.

Qualities of an ineffective supervisor would be one that provides no direction at all. A supervisor that does not lead their staff ends in failure to protect the client and failure to provide the best service. Another trait would be the inability to communicate to the supervisee. A supervisor who is timid or cannot provide constructive critism is not allowing the supervisee the chance to grow and learn.

By having an effective or ineffective counselor can lead to either protecting the client or harming the client. This affects my personal performance because I am either building trust or losing trust in my clients by not being able to provide appropriate services. With an effective supervisor, my thoughts and goals of wanting to succeed will develop and therefore I become more confident in my ability. With an ineffective counselor can lead me to do something unethical and violate my client’s rights and trust.

The significance of having an ethical supervisor means that I am also held accountable to the same standards. A Supervisor should be well versed in the ethical standards. To be a Supervisor, they are to be “familiar with and can skillfully apply the ethical, legal and regulatory dimensions of supervision” (Remley & Herlihy, 2016). Without these qualities, it leads the supervisee to lack the appropriate skills.


If I find that my supervisor is unethical my first order would be to consult with another supervisor with in the practice. If this option is not available I would consult with my local board to report the unethical behavior. I would make sure to have accurate documentation to support my report of unethical behavior.


American Counseling Association (ACA). (2014). 2014 ACA code of ethics [White Paper]. Retrieved July 31, 2017 from


Remley, T. P., Jr., & Herlihy, B. (2016). Ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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