Supervision Bulletin

Continuing Education for the AAMFT Approved Supervisor

AAMFT Approved Supervisors serve a fundamental role in the marriage and family therapy community--the mentorship role. Approved Supervisors are responsible for guiding and teaching the next generation of marriage and family therapy practitioners and future supervisors. They are responsible for evaluating trainees, and for documenting that trainees have fulfilled certain requirements. At the same time, the field of family therapy continues to evolve with new research, supervision methods, and technology. Therefore, the mentorship role requires that Approved Supervisors actively engage in ongoing professional development and a lifetime of continuous learning. With a new continuing education requirement about to go into effect for Approved Supervisors, let us review the history of the requirement and the requirement itself.


With the awesome responsibilities of Approved Supervisors in mind, the AAMFT Board of Directors closely examined the requirements to earn and to maintain the AAMFT Approved Supervisor designation. In 2002, the process of earning the Approved Supervisor designation was streamlined, and the responsibilities of the Approved Supervisor mentor were expanded. Approved Supervisor mentors are responsible for ensuring that supervisor candidates complete the training standards and requirements that are outlined in the Approved Supervisor Designation Standards and Responsibilities Handbook, October 2002. The supervisor-in-training status was eliminated and Approved Supervisors became responsible for verifying that a supervisor candidate is actively training (using the Supervisor Candidate Verification form) when needed. To ensure that Approved Supervisors are knowledgeable about their range of responsibilities, are properly trained to carry out their considerable responsibilities, and remain on the forefront of knowledge in the field, the AAMFT Board of Directors added a continuing education requirement--a five-hour refresher course. The new requirement begins with those Approved Supervisors renewing in 2005.

Continuing Education Requirement

Approved Supervisors have long been required to renew their designation every five years. The added requirement is that Approved Supervisors will now demonstrate, when they renew, that they have taken a five-hour refresher course that is specifically designed for experienced Approved Supervisors. The course must have been taken at some point in the past five years. Again, this takes effect with those renewing in 2005. Those renewing in 2004 can show that they've taken the course, although it is not required until 2005.

Approved Supervisors have received a number of communications about this requirement, along with clarifications of their renewal date. If an Approved Supervisor remains unsure of his or her renewal date, a telephone call or e-mail to the AAMFT office will clarify the matter.

The Refresher Course

The refresher course itself is five hours long. It is designed to be a comprehensive experience rather than a collection of workshops, to ensure that five critical concepts are covered. Each concept is crucial to the mentorship role of Approved Supervisors.

The field of MFT is evolving and ever-changing. New research and trends are important, and depending on the Approved Supervisors practice setting and access, it may be a challenge to stay abreast of them. The refresher course includes a review of supervision literature from the past five years. This will assist the Approved Supervisor with staying up-to-date on the latest developments in the profession.

Approved Supervisors must remain diligent in their adherence to the highest ethical practice. The progression of technology and ever-expanding practice settings creates increasingly complicated ethical issues for therapists. This course offers an opportunity for experienced Approved Supervisors to discuss emerging dilemmas, applicable ethical code changes and legal precedents, and remain ready to guide their supervisees.

Experienced supervisors often say that the lack of a clearly defined supervision contract is the biggest, most common mistake a supervisor can make. The refresher course reviews the critical components of a solid supervision contract. For example, Approved Supervisors are responsible for overseeing the supervisor candidate's progress in meeting stringent training requirements within established timeframes and parameters. They are often responsible for providing clinical supervision to MFT students or pre-licensed MFTs, which requires monitoring, evaluation and documentation. A contract is a deliberate delineation of the numerous requirements for how, and under what conditions, this will occur.

We are serving an ever increasingly diverse population, and the marriage and family therapy profession itself is becoming more diverse. It is imperative that Approved Supervisors remain conscientious of these dynamic issues. Therefore, the refresher course includes study of cultural, gender, and socioeconomic issues in therapy and supervision. 

Finally, the refresher course will review the responsibilities for providing clinical supervision and supervision mentoring. While not the most exciting aspect of the course, it is one of the most critical. With the increasing responsibilities of supervisors, it is imperative that they know exactly what is required of candidates for the Approved Supervisor designation. It is also important for supervisors to understand the shifting landscape of state/provincial licensing laws, and their responsibilities for monitoring and documenting the supervision of trainees.

With 2005 quickly approaching, the need for pre-approved refresher courses is growing. AAMFT divisions are encouraged to offer refresher courses, as are individual AAMFT Approved Supervisors. The course must be taught by someone who is already an Approved Supervisor. As an additional incentive to teach the course, be aware that teaching an AAMFT Approved Supervisor refresher course fulfills the five-hour continuing education requirement. For details on putting together a refresher course and having it pre-approved by the AAMFT, refer to the October 2002 handbook or contact the AAMFT.

Dedication to ongoing professional development and a lifetime of learning are noble qualities. The AAMFT Approved Supervisor exemplifies these qualities. The completion of an Approved Supervisor refresher course not only meets the five-hour continuing education requirement, but more importantly, it serves as an opportunity to grow professionally. 


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Phone: (703) 838-9808 • Fax: (703) 838-9805