8-hr Laws & Rules, Intern, & Supervisor Liability

8-hr Laws & Rules, Intern, & Supervisor Liability

When should registered interns complete the 8-hour Laws & Rules Course that is required in Florida for initial license as LCSW, LMFT, or LMHC?   Most say, “this is the last step in my license process”.  We have been offering this course for over 20 years and it amazes me that so many qualified supervisors would take on the risk of so much liability!

Supervision includes liability, legal, and regulatory issues.  If your supervisee practices below the standard level of care or practices in such a way that harms his or her client, are you aware that the ultimate responsibility of these actions lies with you – the qualified clinical supervisor?  Registered interns are bound by the same laws and rules that licensees are.

The purpose of the registered internship is for the intern to hone clinical skills under the supervision of a qualified licensed professional.  Good practice involves much more than an ability to form therapeutic relationships with those we serve, or learning theories of practice and  DSM diagnoses.  Our Code of Ethics tells us that clinical supervisors are to assist the supervisee in complying with all legal and ethical standards for treatment. 

Supervisors must teach supervisees how to recognize, assess for, and treat destructive behaviors and be familiar with federal and state statutes and regulations pertaining to them.  Supervisors are ultimately responsible for quality of service.  If malpractice by the supervisee is alleged, the supervisor can be charged with negligent or inadequate supervision. 

Supervisors share responsibilities for the services provided to clients. Liability of supervisors has been determined by the courts and includes direct liability related to negligent or inadequate supervision and vicarious liability related to negligent conduct by supervisees.  In other words,  qualified supervisors are ultimately responsible for their own acts of omission and/or commission as well as those of their supervisees.

This author has been a qualified supervisor for over twenty years.  I would never commence supervision unless the supervisee provided me with a copy of a certificate of course completion for the 8-hour FL Laws & Rules Course.  We cannot expect a registered intern to abide by laws and regulations they may not be aware of!

Supervisors should ensure a learning process that emphasizes a standard of care consistent with the Code of Ethics, licensing laws, applicable organization policies and procedures, and regulations for businesses. Doing so ensures high-quality services; protects the supervisor, supervisee, and client; and safeguards against malpractice issues.

The 8-hour Florida Laws & Rules Course is offered at www.aarossfamilycounseling.com and can be purchased individually for $75 or in a package that includes all 3 required courses: 8-hour Laws & Rules; 3-hour HIV/AIDS; and 2-hour Domestic Violence for only $79 (on sale).  Courses are accessible for 180 days from date of purchase.