What follows are three case studies taken from Bernard and Goodyear (1999). Try analyzing the cases from the perspective of a trainee and a supervisor. How does the ethical decision-making model presented in this module apply to the case? You might also want to talk with your supervisor, classmates, professors, or other practitioners about these cases. After the three cases are presented there are some questions that might guide your discussion.

Case #1

Vanessa has been a marriage and family therapist at an agency for six months. Gary, one of the other three therapists in the agency and the only other single therapist, is her clinical supervisor. It will take Vanessa 2 years under supervision to accrue the experience she needs to be eligible to sit for the state licensing examination for her LMFT. One evening Gary calls Vanessa to inquire whether she would like to go to a day-long workshop with him. The speaker for the workshop specializes in a kind of therapy in which Vanessa has expressed interest. Vanessa accepts and the workshop turns out to be an excellent professional experience. On the way home, Vanessa and Gary stop for dinner. Vanessa picks up the tab to thank Gary for including her. The following day Vanessa is sharing some of the experiences of the workshop with Camille, another therapist at the agency. When Camille asks, "Isn't Gary your supervisor?" Vanessa feels defensive and misunderstood. Later that day, Vanessa decides to go to her agency director and ask his opinion of the situation. He tells her not to be concerned about it and that Camille "worries about everything." During her next supervision session, Vanessa chooses not to mention either conversation to Gary (pp. 191-192).

Case #2

Margaret is a school counselor who has been assigned a trainee from the local university for the academic year. As she observes Noah work with elementary school children, she is increasingly impressed with his skills. She asks him to work with Peter, a nine-year-old, who has not adjusted well to his parents' recent divorce. Again, she is impressed with Noah's skill, his warmth and understanding, and ultimately, with the success he has in working with Peter. Margaret is a single parent who is concerned about her nine-year-old son. She decides to ask Noah to see him. Noah is complimented by her confidence in him. Margaret's son attends a different school, but she arranges to have Noah see him after school hours (p. 192).

Case #3

Ruth has been assigned to a local mental health hospital for her internship to work with patients who are preparing to be discharged. It is her first day at the site and she is meeting with her site supervisor. He gives her a form to fill out, which asks for information regarding her student malpractice insurance. When Ruth tells her supervisor that she does not carry such insurance, he advises her that it is their policy not to accept any student who does not have insurance. The supervisor also expresses some surprise because this has always been the hospital's policy and Ruth is not the first student to be assigned to them from her training program (p. 186).


1. What are the main issues in the case?

2. What ethical issues are of concern in the case?

3. Are there particular breaches of ethical principles? What are they?

4. What can the supervisor do, if anything, to resolve the ethical problem(s) presented in the case?

5. What can the trainee do, if anything, to resolve the ethical problem(s) presented in the case?

6. Is there other information that might have been helpful in the resolution of this case?

7. What could have been done to prevent the ethical problem from occurring in the first place?