2.0 Ethics Case 2

Problem-solving step Your response Response example
Identify the problem

The supervisee is not fulfilling what is expected of them and is not responding to feedback

The supervisee’s unresponsiveness has halted the progression of an effective supervision program.
Relevant ethical codes

5.05, 5.06

5.06 Providing Feedback to Supervisees. a) Behavior analysts design feedback and reinforcement systems in a way that improves supervisee performance.
Consider dimensions of the problem

The supervisee is not effectively communicating
Shortage of staff is impacting tolerance for unprofessional behavior

Christine has a responsibility to create a supervision program that engages supervisees in progress toward goals and identify barriers to effective supervision. The supervisee also has a responsibility to respond to feedback and actively participate.
These responsibilities and standards for communication and responding to feedback are stated in the contract for trainees and BCaBA supervisees, but there is no contract for RBT supervision.
The supervisee cannot continue to work if Christine refuses to continue with supervision, which might cause conflict with her employer.
Consider courses of action & potential consequences

Review supervision contract, expectations for performance, and expectations for communication. However, the client may not be responsive to this.

If the level of unresponsiveness matches guidelines for termination in the contract, you could terminate your supervisory relationship with the individual, which could cause backlash against you and the supervisee may not learn proper conduct.

You could reach out to a colleague or supervisor to observe and see what you might be able to try differently, but that would take some time and could continue causing harm to client as a result of inefficient service delivery

Christine can deliver a written warning and plan for remediation with consequences outlined, but she does not have the authority to terminate the RBT’s employment.
Christine also fears for her own employment if she pursues the matter further.
If she continues with supervision, Christine is certain she will be violating the ethics code by signing off on supervision hours that have no effect on the supervisee’s service delivery.
Select a course of action

Review terms of termination and, if applicable, terminate supervisory relationship

Christine decides that her BCBA certification is the most important thing and that continuing with an unethical situation will jeopardize her credentials. She writes a memo to her employer, citing the relevant codes from the BACB, attached a copy of the code, and then proceeds with a plan for remediation. She cannot fire the RBT but she can refuse to provide his supervision.
Implement and evaluate course of action

If the supervisee does not change their attitude and participation within a week of that review, you can terminate the supervisory relationship. Be sure to have a hard copy of this, such as an email, in case the supervisee makes a claim against you or the Board audits you.

Christine’s course of action was not the easiest option but it was the only option for her to continue to work as a behavior analyst in the future. Also, putting her foot down will send the message to her employer that she answers to the ethics codes first.