LESSON 2: Supervision Contract & Conduct

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Instructions for Lesson 2: This lesson will provide you will everything you need to develop your supervision contract. If you are an experienced supervisor, you may already have a supervision contract that you could revise using the BACB sample contracts and guidance provided.  Required of all contracts is an attestation that the BACB documents Disciplinary and Ethical Standards & Disciplinary Procedures and Guidelines for Responsible Conduct will be followed.  Participants will review these documents and check for understanding with a short quiz at the end of the lesson.
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The BACB Experience Standards provides expectations for all aspects of supervision, including contract development. According to the BACB Experience Standards, the purpose of the supervision contract is to protect all parties involved and to align supervision activities with the Nature of Supervision (see Introduction). It also states that the supervisor and supervisee must execute a written contract prior to the onset of the experience and that both the supervisor and supervisee are responsible for retaining a copy of the contractual agreement and providing it to the BACB if requested. Finally, the BACB provides an outline of the required contract components.

(discussed in more detail in the sections below)bigstock-picture-of-woman-thinking-abou-46405309

  1. State the responsibilities of the supervisor and supervisee
  2. Include a description of the appropriate activities and instructional objectives
  3. Include the objective and measurable circumstances under which the supervisor will sign the supervisee’s Experience Verification Form when the experience had ended
  4. Delineate the consequences should the parties not adhere to their responsibilities (including proper termination of the relationship)
  5. Include a statement requiring the supervisee to obtain written permission from the supervisee’s on-site employer or manager when applicable
  6. Include an attestation that both parties will adhere to the BACB Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts and the BACB Disciplinary and Ethical Standards.

The following are sample contracts, provided at BACB.com (link). The sample contracts include the required components of supervision and some additional provisions as well, such as a progress review every 100 hours, which is not included in the September 2013 version of the Experience Standards.

BACB Sample Supervision Contract – University Practicum
BACB Sample Supervision Contract – Independent Supervision
BACB Sample Supervision Contract – Within-Agency Supervision

The information below provides additional resources for the contract.

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State Responsibilities

What happens when a supervisee is “putting in his or her time” but remains unresponsive to supervisor feedback? How can supervisors protect themselves from supervisee complaints? Clearly defined responsibilities of the supervisor and supervisee help protect against problems such as these that may arise during supervision.

Supervisee Responsibilities

bigstock-Young-Man-Sitting-In-Chair-And-52286182The BACB sample contracts contain the required supervisee responsibilities per the BACB Experience Standards.  Supervisors may add additional responsibilities as well.  The BACB Practicum and Experience Supervision Form contains an Evaluation of Supervisee Performance rating scale of items that pertain to supervisee responsibilities.

Supervisee expectations might also include the following:

◊ participation in supervision activities
◊ adherence to a supervision schedule
◊ responsibility for supervision paperwork
◊ procedures for cancellation of supervision meetings
◊ procedures for cancellation of supervisor observations

Supervisor Responsibilities

Supervisor responsibilities may include similar information, stated from the other perspective. For example, the responsibilities may state what the supervisee can expect if the supervisor needs to re-schedule a meeting.  Also, supervisors have a responsibility to provide specific feedback on supervisee performance.

The BACB sample contracts provide the required responsibilities per the BACB Experience Standards.  See sample contracts, “Responsibilities and Agreements”.  Supervisors may also find the Nature of Supervision as another resource to guide the development of expectations for both the supervisee and supervisor (BACB Experience Standards, page 4).

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Appropriate Activities

bigstock-Story-Time-340881The BACB provides new guidance and rules on supervisee activities that may count toward supervised hours (see Lesson 1). The BACB Experience Standards provides a list of experiences that supervisees are encouraged to have as part of supervision (page 3). While it seems reasonable to assume that a responsible supervisee is familiar with the Acceptable Activities section of the BACB Experience Standards, it is best to have this information written out in the contract.  Supervisors may opt to simply list the appropriate activities as they are stated in the Experience Standards (see BACB sample contracts).

A supervisor may also use this portion of the contract to state which activities are not acceptable for supervision. The BACB lists several such activities in the BACB Experience Standards. Also, the contract needs to state the rule that direct implementation of client programs may not count for more than 50% of accrued experience hours (September BACB Newsletter). Supervisors may also consider including a general statement that all supervisee activities should be pre-approved by the supervisor. This will protect against supervisees making faulty assumptions and expecting supervisor endorsement.

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Instructional Objectives

If you have an established practice of supervision, you may have instructional objectives already identified. For supervisors creating instructional objectives for the first time, the BACB provides a list of reasons for effective supervision that may be easily re-worded as instructional objectives. The reasons for effective, evidence-based supervision are as follows (Supervisor Training Curriculum Guide, bottom of page 1):

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Circumstances for Signing Verification Form

bigstock-Businessman-sitting-at-office--19499588The signed verification form is the final deliverable in the contract. A supervisee may understand the signed verification form to be an entitlement for payment of supervision fees and for accruing the required hours. A situation may arise where a supervisor feels obligated through vague or unclear language in the contract to sign a verification form when certain performance expectations were not met. To avoid ethical conflicts and contract disputes, the contract should include a checklist of objective and measurable circumstances under which the verification form will be signed. These expectations may include supervisee performance as well as final payment for supervision services.

When a supervisor does not sign the verification form or the hours indicated on the form are disputed by the supervisee, the supervisee may contest the experience with the BACB. To contest the experience, the supervisee submits the following with his or her application for certification: a copy of the supervisory contract, copies of the signed Experience Supervision Forms completed during the experience, and letters or other documentation from third parties who observed the supervisory relationship. The supervisee must also provide proof to the BACB that the supervisor was informed of this submission and provided copies of the information sent to the BACB. When supervision is contested, the supervisor will be asked by the BACB to provide documentation of dissatisfaction regarding the supervision experience in question (see Contested Experience on page 5 of the BACB Experience Standards).

See the BACB sample contracts for wording of this requirement.

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Consequences for Not Adhering to Contract

Missed payments, missed supervision meetings, and non-compliance with activities and hours are among the problems a supervisor may want to include in the definition of non-adherence. If the supervisee is paying for supervision services, a payment schedule should be clearly outlined in the contract. The process may be further formalized with a protocol of verbal and written warnings to ensure problems are communicated effectively. However, there may be extenuating circumstances for which a supervisor may want to grant exception for a supervisee.  Consider providing a clear definition for non-adherence and standard protocols for addressing non-adherence, while also leaving the option for “supervisor discretion.”

Also required for this section of the contract are procedures for proper termination of the contract for both parties. These procedures are what either party must follow if the pursuit of certification or the provision of supervision needs to end abruptly due to professional or personal change in circumstances. Consider including a requirement for written notification of contract termination, any final fees or refunds the supervisee can expect, and terms under which a contract may be suspended (e.g., the supervisee takes a semester off from school to re-consider pursuit of the certification).

Lack of Adequate Progress

Lack of adequate progress may also be considered a reason for termination. The BACB sample contracts contain a procedure whereby the supervisee will undergo a performance review every 100 hours. The procedure also states terms by which the supervision may be discontinued due to lack of adequate progress.

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Written Permission from Supervisee’s Employer

For supervisees accruing hours at their place of employment, require that written permission from the supervisee’s employer be provided prior to the start of the first supervision period. Written permission is a professional courtesy and legitimizes the supervision services. Specify the procedures for obtaining permission and also the information required in the written permission. To standardized the process, supervisors may decide to create a permission form to ensure all the correct information is communicated and collected.

Consider requiring the following from written permission:

◊ Brief description of the purpose of supervision
◊ Time frame of supervision
◊ Frequency of supervisor observations
◊ Supervisee activity requirements to be performed in the setting

Example documentation of employer permission are provided in the links below.  These examples are written for in-person observations.


Public schools tend to have policies that make it difficult for outside professionals to enter a classroom to conduct observations. For supervisees working in more protected settings, such as public schools, consider requiring a signature from the local administrator. For example, if the supervisee answers to the Director of Special Education, ask that the principal sign the document as well. This consideration might make it easier to gain access to classrooms when it is time for observations.

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Finally, the BACB states that contracts should include an attestation that both parties will adhere to the BACB Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts and the BACB Disciplinary and Ethical Standards. This attestation also ensures that your practice of supervision stays current with as the BACB guidelines and standards change.  See BACB sample contracts for suggested wording of attestation.

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Can a BCBA provide supervision to a friend or relative?  How many days does a BCBA have to inform the BACB of a change of address?  Under which conditions may a BCBA disclose confidential client information without written consent from the client?  Are BCBAs required to report criminal charges to the BACB?  What about civil charges?These question and more are answered in the Disciplinary and Ethical Standards & Disciplinary Procedures and the Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts.

The attestation required in the contract states that the supervisor and supervisee will adhere to the rules and guidelines stated in these documents.  Supervisors are additionally responsible for maintaining the standards and guidelines in the practice of supervision.

Review these documents now and take the quiz below to test your knowledge.
Disciplinary and Ethical Standards & Disciplinary Procedures
Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts


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