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Why Clinical Supervision is Required for Psychotherapist Licensure

Clinical supervision is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to become a licensed therapist in mental health. The reason clinical supervision is a requirement, and best practice once licensed, is that one can gain a greater understanding of their work and how to improve upon it from a licensed professional’s perspective. Graduates can also gain insight into how to manage themselves and their practice more effectively, and learn how to develop and implement new and innovative approaches to patient care. Clinical supervision offers a space to reflect on practice, develop new skills, and work through challenging cases. This powerful form of academic and professional practice can help propel aspiring and professional social workers forward, refine decision-making abilities, and sharpen communication skills.


Benefits of Clinical Supervision for Career Development 

The most important benefit that clinical supervision offers is the opportunity for mental health professionals to become licensed in their field. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), I have practiced under the required 3,000 hours of clinical supervision for licensure as described in the image below from the Board of Behavioral Sciences FAQ guide for Associate Clinical Social Workers.


clinical supervision
clinical supervision

In addition to meeting licensure requirements, clinical supervision provides a safe, supportive, and objective environment for therapists to reflect on their practice and receive feedback on their work. This practice also promotes the wellbeing of practitioners leading to better patient outcomes after earning their professional license. Supervisors help mentees find new strategies, access resources, and hone their professional skills to become better clinicians. Furthermore, clinical supervision creates an opportunity to network with professionals in their field of mental health and build relationships with colleagues.

How to Find a Qualified Supervisor 

Finding a licensed clinical supervisor can be an intimidating task, but with the right approach, it can be immensely beneficial for one’s education, licensure, and future career. There are a few key steps to finding the right supervisor: first, research available local clinical supervisors by talking to colleagues and professionals as well as by reading online reviews and testimonials. After narrowing down potential supervisors, below are a few questions to get a better sense of their experience and qualifications. 


  1. Please can you describe your educational background and professional experience?

  2. What communities do you specialize in working with?

  3. Are there any particular modalities you practice with patients?

  4. What made you want to be a clinical supervisor?

  5. What are the best times of the week for you to provide supervision?


Once a supervisor has been identified, the terms of an agreement should be put in writing to ensure that both the supervisor and supervisee are in agreement on the arrangement and have a document to reference in case of a disagreement in the future. 


Strategies for Making the Most of Your Supervision Sessions 

Harnessing the power of clinical supervision can be done by setting clear goals and objectives for each session, and by taking the time to reflect on and review the sessions. By doing so, you can make the most of your sessions. Below are a few ways to prepare for clinical supervision sessions. 


  • Be as transparent and open-minded as possible

  • Communicate your current status on your progress

  • Relay a recent example of insight you received and how you worked with it

  • Consider another perspective and method and contemplate their effectiveness

  • Accept direction and be open to obstacles

  • Trust the process and be accountable for your role in it


Conclusion

Clinical supervision is a powerful tool, and harnessing it can help participants advance their career in a variety of ways. A licensed supervisor can provide feedback, guidance, and support, to identify and work through challenges and develop skills. Licensed clinical supervision is also required by the Board of Behavioral Sciences for licensure as a mental health therapist. Even after receiving your license, recurring clinical supervision is recommended for professionals to gain greater insight into their own practice, discover new perspectives, and develop a deeper understanding of psychotherapy.


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