Importance of Supervisory Training and an Abbreviated History

Many of us who are or have been clinical educators or preceptors recognize and support the importance of supervision training for those who supervise our future professionals. The underlying premise is that Supervision is a distinct area of practice and, as such, warrants formal training. This recognition is really no different from wanting/requiring those who work with people who, for example, stutter or who have tinnitus to have the needed knowledge and skills to serve particular clients/patients/students.

Until relatively recently, many assumed that certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) was all that was needed to be an effective supervisor. An effort to acknowledge and legitimize supervision as a distinct area of expertise and practice, however, was part of ASHA’s 1985 position statement on clinical supervision in speech-language pathology and audiology. Subsequent work to define the unique skill set associated with clinical supervision was reflected in ASHA’s 2008 position statement and in the final report of the 2013 ASHA Ad Hoc Committee on Supervision. Most recently, ASHA charged the Ad Hoc Committee on Supervision Training (AHCST) to develop a systematic, well-coordinated plan to establish resources and training opportunities in clinical supervision. The culmination of the committee’s work is a phased-in transition plan to increase the number of trained clinical supervisors and preceptors in audiology and speech-language pathology. This article highlights the key points from the overall plan. For more information, see “A Plan for Developing Resources and Training Opportunities in Clinical Supervision” (ASHA, 2016) [PDF].

Motivation and Advocacy: How Do We Inspire People to Embrace the Need for Training?

The AHCST recognized that implementation of consistent, effective training is a complex issue, despite the growing consensus on the value and impact of supervision training. Legitimate questions have been raised about the feasibility of such training expectations from a variety of highly committed stakeholders. Our committee (a) discussed the importance of shifting the culture from accepting the status quo of inconsistent training to actively embracing a higher standard of excellence in clinical education and supervision; (b) embarked on a process to develop a positioning statement to support this culture shift; (c)  considered the perspective of the professionals whom we are  trying to reach, (e.g., clinicians who supervise our graduate students in settings other than universities); and (d) agreed that to embrace an obligation for training, clinicians  have to  recognize its worth on personal, professional, and practical levels. Through this process, we identified the core values, benefits, and rationale for supervision training, all of which provided a framework for ASHA and continuing education providers to promote the need for supervision training.

Resources for Supervision Training

The AHCST recognized that any movement toward an expectation of consistent supervision training must be supported by robust training resources. Such resources need to be systematic, evidence-supported, and easily accessed. A review and analysis of existing, emerging, and potential supervision training resources revealed a wide array of training opportunities. Also suggested was the development of additional training resources in the short and long term. Several deliverables were created for use by audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) engaged in training: (a) a chart of topics for training across all constituent supervision groups; (b) a supervision logo; and (c) a self-assessment tool of competencies in supervision for clinical educators, preceptors, mentors and supervisors to fine-tune their personal training needs (ASHA, 2016). An additional resource,Supervision Training Brand Essence [PDF], was created for use by continuing education providers to assist them with marketing supervision training opportunities based on the motivations and needs of supervisors and preceptors for such training.

Phased-in Training: The Road to Requirement

We conceptualized a workable transition from a no-supervision training requirement to a requirement that would increase the consistency and quality of clinical education and supervision, while remaining respectful of the challenges of such a requirement. The AHCST strongly acknowledged that a “road to requirement” must involve a phased-in process, during which the value of supervision training is actively promoted, and appropriate training resources are identified and developed. We wanted to ensure that stakeholders have adequate time and resources to access training opportunities. The plan envisions a 6-year phase-in period by which time clinical educators and preceptors would be obligated to have achieved a minimum of 2 (and up to a maximum of 30) hours of professional development training in supervision required in an ASHA certification cycle in the area of supervision training.

Conclusion: The Ripple Effect

This is an important time in the history of supervision. Along with the work of SIG 11, CAPCSD and the American Board of Audiology (ABA Certificate Program), our Ad Hoc Committee on Supervision Training continues to move us forward by establishing a plan to increase the number of audiologists and speech-language pathologists who are trained in supervision. This training will then help prepare future professionals to deliver the highest quality of service to people with communication disorders.



American Board of Audiology. (n.d.). The first standards-driven certificate training program for audiology preceptors. Retrieved from

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). About Special Interest Group (SIG) 11, Administration and Supervision. Retrieved from

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (1985).Clinical supervision in speech-language pathology and audiology. [Position Statement]. ASHA, 27, 57–60.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2008).Clinical supervision in speech-language pathology [Position Statement]. Retrieved from

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2013).Knowledge, skills and training considerations for individuals serving as supervisors. Retrieved from [PDF].

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2016). A plan for developing resources and training opportunities in clinical supervision [Final report, Ad Hoc Committee on Supervision Training]. Retrieved from [PDF].

Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders. (2013). White paper: Preparation of speech-language pathology clinical educators. Retrieved from

McCrea, E. & Brasseur, J. (2003). The supervisory process in speech-language pathology and audiology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.