Case 7. Handling Disparate
Information for Evaluating Trainees
Rashid Vaji, PhD, a member of the school psychology faculty at a midsize university,
serves as a faculty supervisor for students assigned to externships in schools.
The department has formalized a supervision and evaluation system for the extern
program. Students have weekly individual meetings with the faculty supervisor and
biweekly meetings with the on-site supervisor. The on-site supervisor writes a midyear
(December) and end of academic year (May) evaluation of each student. The
site evaluations are sent to Dr. Vaji, and he provides feedback based on the site and
his own supervisory evaluation to each student. The final grade (fail, low pass, pass,
high pass) is the responsibility of Dr. Vaji.
Dr. Vaji also teaches the spring semester graduate class Health Disparities in
Mental Health. One of the course requirements is for students to write weekly
thought papers, in which they take the perspective of therapy clients from different
ethnic groups in reaction to specific session topics. Leo Watson, a second-year
graduate student, is one of Dr. Vaji’s externship supervisees. He is also enrolled in
the Health Disparities course. Leo’s thought papers often present ethnic-minority
adolescents as prone to violence and unable to grasp the insights offered by school
psychologists. In a classroom role-playing exercise, Leo plays an ethnic-minority
student client as slumping in his chair, not understanding the psychologist, and
giving angry retorts. In written comments on these thought papers and class feedback,
Dr. Vaji encourages Leo to incorporate more of the readings on racial/ethnic
discrimination and multicultural competence into his papers and to provide more
complex perspectives on clients.
One day during his office hours, three students from the class come to Dr. Vaji’s
office to complain about Leo’s behavior outside the classroom. They describe incidents
in which Leo uses derogatory ethnic labels to describe his externship clients
and brags about “putting one over” on his site supervisors by describing these clients
in “glowing” terms just to satisfy his supervisors’ “stupid do-good” attitudes.
They also report an incident at a local bar at which Leo was seen harassing an
African American waitress, including by using racial slurs.
After the students have left his office, Dr. Vaji reviews his midyear evaluation
and supervision notes on Leo and the midyear on-site supervisor’s report. In his
own evaluation report, Dr. Vaji had written, “Leo often articulates a strong sense of
duty to help his ethnic minority students overcome past discrimination but needs
additional growth and supervision in applying a multicultural perspective to his
clinical work.” The on-site supervisor’s evaluation states that
Leo has a wonderful attitude toward his student clients. . . . Unfortunately,
evaluation of his multicultural treatment skills is limited because Leo has had
fewer cases to discuss than some of his peers, since a larger than usual number
of ethnic minority clients have stopped coming to their sessions with him.
It is the middle of the spring semester, and Dr. Vaji still has approximately
6 weeks of supervision left with Leo. The students’ complaints about Leo are consistent
with what Dr. Vaji has observed in Leo’s class papers and role-playing exercises.
However, these complaints are very different from Leo’s presentation during
on-site supervision. If Leo has been intentionally deceiving both supervisors, then
he may be more ineffective or harmful as a therapist to his current clients than
either supervisor has realized. In addition, purposeful attempts to deceive the
supervisors might indicate a personality disorder or lack of integrity that, if left
unaddressed, might be harmful to adolescent clients in the future.
Dr. Vaji would like to meet with Leo to discuss, at a minimum, ways to retain
adolescent clients and to improve his multicultural treatment skills. He does not
know to what extent his conversation with Leo and final supervisory report should
be influenced by the information provided by the other graduate students.
I have attached two word documents to this homework: one has questions answered from two years ago and the other has the questions to be answered for this task. I have started to answer some of them but I need help finishing it.
Discussion Questions TO BE ANSWERED
1. Why is this an ethical dilemma? Which APA Ethical Principles help frame
the nature of the dilemma?
2. Who are the stakeholders, and how will they be affected by how Dr. Vaji
resolves this dilemma?
3. What additional information might Dr. Vaji collect to get a more accurate
picture of Leo’s multicultural attitudes and professional skills? What are reasons
for and against contacting Leo’s site supervisor for more information?
Should he request that Leo’s sessions with clients be electronically taped or
4. Is Dr. Vaji in a potentially unethical multiple relationship as both Leo’s
externship supervisor and his teacher in the Health Disparities class. Why or
5. To what extent, if any, should Dr. Vaji consider Leo’s own ethnicity in his
deliberations? Should he address the dilemma differently if Leo self-identifies
as non-Hispanic White than as Hispanic or non-Hispanic Black?
6. Once the dilemma is resolved, should Dr. Vaji have a follow-up meeting with
the students who complained?
7. How are APA Ethical Standards 1.08, 3.04, 3.05, 3.09, 7.04, 7.05, and 7.06 and
the Hot Topics “Ethical Supervision of Trainees in Professional Psychology
Programs” (Chapter 10) and “Multicultural Ethical Competence” (Chapter 5)
relevant to this case? Which other standards might apply?
8. What are Dr. Vaji’s ethical alternatives for resolving this dilemma? Which
alternative best reflects the Ethics Code aspirational principles and
enforceable standards, legal standards, and obligations to stakeholders?
Can you identify the ethical theory (discussed in Chapter 3) guiding
9. What steps should Dr. Vaji take to implement his decision and monitor its
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