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Technology Assisted Supervision and Training (TAST)
Definition of TAST
Refers to supervision or training assisted by technology via email/internet relay chat/VOIP (voice over internet protocol)/video webcam in real time (synchronous) or asynchronously, where the supervisor/supervisee are not in the same physical space at the same time.
Guidance on TAST
ACAT aims to advise members of information and guidance on TAST, and to develop knowledge of the safest systems. Given the fast changing landscape of the interface between tech and therapy/supervision, members who use TAST need to be responsible for keeping themselves informed and up to date about new developments. There is a Special Interest Group to share learning and support members in this area, which also focuses on offering therapy on-line.
Below are some principles and basic information on the practical issues to consider when setting up TAST supervision, which presents opportunities and certain risks. ACAT would encourage those delivering TAST to consider their CPD needs and to ensure that, in line with ethical practice, they consider relevant codes of conduct in light of this dimension to their work. All supervisors should ask themselves if they have sufficient understanding of the specific issues that working online involves.
- Security, Confidentiality and Data Protection Issues are paramount because of the risks that technology poses to breaches.
- Check in advance with your employer (NHS or other) that TAST work is acceptable. You also should also check in advance that you are covered for such work with your private insurer.
- Consider use of ‘fit for purpose’ platforms for computer mediated communication including video conferencing or email. Those made specifically for social networking are not recommended for professional use e.g. FaceTime, WhatsApp or ‘hotmail’ email. This knowledge is likely to require some research as technology develops apace. Outside of the NHS it is possible to download and use free versions of platforms. ACAT does not recommend one platform over another specifically, not least because things are changing all the time but the following links are offered:
- Consider virus protection on devices, VPNs for additional security, and use of passwords to protect word documents.
- Bear in mind issues which may impact on communication and relationship. Because video conferencing uses high bandwidth, to mitigate against buffering or freezes, switch off additional programmes that might be running in the background e.g. Skype, Dropbox that could slow connection down.
- Reliance exclusively on Wi-Fi may be problematic if the Wi-Fi signal is lost. Using an ethernet cable presents a more reliable option for connection. They are relatively cheap to buy.
- Consider the supervision contract how this might be adapted. Make explicit ‘plan Bs’ for contact, and be clear about security & storage of data. Does the supervisee understand the potential risks and challenges when technology is involved? What arrangements for contact and supervision will you make in the event of tech failure? What will the boundaries be around the supervision? What will be the arrangements if the supervisee emails to request urgent supervision or if their client is in crisis?
- Bear in mind that with smart devices, and continual connection to the internet, the consequences of the ‘technology ecosystem’ (Mantovani 1996) might mean that you are uploading data or information unintentionally to clouds which may be situated in different geographical locations outside of UK jurisdiction and as such you lose control of its privacy.
Mantovani, G., (1996) New Communications Environments: From Everyday to Virtual CRC Press.
Recommended reading and resources
Stokes, A. (Ed.). (2018). Online Supervision: A Handbook for Practitioners (Psychotherapy 2.0 Series). Routledge. http://www.karnacbooks.com/product/online-supervision-a-handbook-for-practitioners/38887/?MATCH=1