Assignment: Handling Disparate People

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Assignment: Handling Disparate People

Assignment: Handling Disparate People

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Assignment: Case Study on Handling Disparate People

Information for Evaluating Trainees

Rashid Vaji, Ph.D., 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 on “Health Disparities in

Mental Health.” One of the course requirements is for students to write weekly

thought papers, in which they are required to 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 the 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 liberal do-good”

attitudes. They also report an incident at a local bar at which Leo was seen harassing

an African American waitress 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 into his

clinical work.” The on-site supervisor’s evaluation states that

Leo has a wonderful attitude towards his student clients . . . Unfortunately

evaluation of his treatment skills is limited because Leo has had less cases to

discuss than some of his peers since a larger than usual number of students

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, while more

extreme, are consistent with what Dr. Vaji has observed in Leo’s class papers and

role-playing exercises. However, these complaints are very different from his 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 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.

Ethical Dilemma

Dr. Vaji would like to meet with Leo at minimum to discuss 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 graduate students.

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