10 Tips: Choosing your LPC Supervisor

how-to-choose-clinical-supervisor

1) Your Clinical Supervisor Should Be Confident

Your LPC supervisor should work with confidence as they develop and build your clinical skills. They should work with conviction.

Struggles with low self-confidence and self-doubt are amongst the most common struggles of new counselors. These are normal struggles and a supervisee should be able to rely on their supervisor for emotional support and fears of doing psychotherapy. 

2) An LPC Supervisor Should Know License Requirements Thoroughly

LPC supervisors should fully understand your state LPC supervision and licensure requirements. As a supervisee, the ultimate responsibility is upon you to know rules. Still, you should find an LPC Clinical supervisor that has guided LAPC’s to successful LPC licensing…and one should ask the supervisor this question in advance.

3) Supervisor Refusal to Recommend an LPC supervisee for Licensure.

Supervisees want help with 1) getting licensed 2) learning ethics.

One of the primary reasons we seek supervision is because it is required for licensure. — a supervisee’s aim is to become licensed and they expect their supervisor to assist. A reasonable expectation. 

Occasionally, a supervisor will, after completion of supervision, refuse to recommend the applicant for licensure. The reasons are varied but usually because the supervisor believes the therapist has deficiencies in counselors skills or ethics or lack of competence.

Unfortunately, some LPC supervisors may refuse to recommend for licensure because the supervisee has a balance on their payment account. It is important to establish a mutual understanding. Supervisors shouldn’t hold supervisees hostage over finances. This should be handled through normal collection procedures. 

As soon as the supervisor has identified irreconcilable differences, the supervisee should be informed. Then the supervisee can be referred to another supervisor.

Situations when the supervisor has continued to provide clinical supervision–and taken the supervisees money– should be proactively addressed. 

4) Select Your Supervisor as You Would Select A Therapist.

Selecting a supervisor is similar to selecting a therapist. You should have a positive rapport. There should be compatibility and connection. You should feel comfortable with them.

5) Experience With Your Client Demographic

Determine what age groups they specialize in. Ask what percentage of their experience is in geriatric, adult, adolescent and child counseling.

These are all highly specialized areas and you will want to be sure a significant percentage of their client load and experience aligns with yours. 

Some clients require a high degree of management and often decisive action by the therapist- suicidal, self harming/cutters, binge/purge, dissociation, oppositional defiant disorder. 

For example, if you work with adolescents in a residential setting your supervisor should have the same experience. 

If you work with adult survivors of abuse your supervisor should be competent in treating addiction, PTSD, personality disorders, self-harming, panic disorder and dissociative disorders. 

LPC supervisors should be experienced with DSM V and a possess a working knowledge of diagnoses and determining required level of care.

They should be experienced in treating substance abuse as you will encounter it in your work setting and it is a frequent obstacle to successful treatment of mental illness.

6) Seek An Experienced Clinical Supervisor

Like new therapists, new supervisors can become panicky and reactive when a supervisee presents with a challenging ethical dilemma.

When seeking an LPC to provide supervision for licensure, there is no substitute for experience. The ideal LPC Supervisor will have at least 5 years post licensure experience working inpatient, residential, outpatient and clinical supervision training.

Ethical dilemmas, substance abuse, severe clinical mental illness and assisting you in a crisis should not be a challenge for your supervisor.

7) Personal Disclosure to a Clinical Supervisor

In order to develop as a therapist, you should be in a training environment that feels safe.

Whereas most state counseling board and ACA codes of  ethics address “full professional consideration” with colleagues, in most states communication between a clinical supervisor and counselor supervisee is not privileged communication.

If your state law extends privileged communication to master’s level therapists specific patient information is privileged. 

If your clinical supervisor is also your job superior, you are in a dual relationship by virtue of the “bind” of the supervisor. There is an unavoidable conflict.

In this setting too often supervisors refuse to recommend for LPC licensure due to a violation of company policy.

Some state board rules prohibit a boss/supervisor dual relationship.

Regardless, your supervisor will need decide whether to report certain issues about your patient treatment to the next person up the chain of command. Clarify this in advance with your supervisor.

These problems can be avoided by obtaining an independent private LPC supervisor instead.

In both cases, it is important to ask questions about a prospective supervisors personal limits on privacy in supervision.

8) What is the Full Range Of Supervision Services They Provide.

Proper supervision requires much more than going over a list of cases together. 

1) Sometimes you may need to utilize the entire session on one patient. Exploring issues relevant to a single patient can often translate into principles that you can use across a variety of clients and scenarios.

2) Some patients are more complex than others and therefore require greater attention.

3) You may require an entire session discussing matters other than case presentation- burnout, feelings of failure and countertransference/transference.

9) A Systematic Approach To Clinical Supervision

A supervisor should have a clear and fully – formulated approach. Ask them which model/models they use to develop peers in supervision. 

There are many models but some key factors to consider and you should ask how they weigh them in importance in their development of good therapists:

Authority
Mentoring
Active intervention
Gatekeeping
Psychotherapeutic interventions with their supervisees
Evaluation. 

10) Group v. Individual Supervision

The advantage of group supervision is affordability. Advantages of individual supervision is privacy. It is important to weight this decision carefully. You don’t want to find yourself having to defend a board complaint because of a rogue group member.

You deserve a former licensing board president on your side.

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