During my experience of seeking paid clinical supervision, I have learned a number of lessons that I want to extend to other new professionals and recent graduates. First, utilize resources from former professors or professionals that you might have come across during internship. When you initially begin to receive clinical hours, you may find that you are only receiving 1 hour per week of clinical supervision through employment. The state of Virginia requires 200 hours of clinical supervision after graduation as part of clinical residency to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC). If you do not want to wait for 4 years to complete your residency then paying for additional supervision would be advisable. One of my former professors provided information regarding Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS). This is a niche type of credential but stands out and differentiates from other licensed professionals that do not have it because of the necessary five years of mental health experience, 45 hours of supervision training course work and 20 hours of continuing education in clinical supervision. This additional experience provides a more intense level of training beyond licensure which may address any potential concerns of the clinician’s ability to provide substantive supervision for the supervisee. Upon my looking to pay for additional supervision and after making several phone calls regarding referrals from resources provided by a former graduate professor, my suggestion is to utilize ACS website first. My suggestion is to utilize ACS website. This is for Approved Clinical Supervisors who have had at least 5 years of experience as an LPC and have taken time to get this additional credential.
Another concern before you pay for your supervision is to find someone who has experience and a level of expertise in the area that you are interested in. This will be beneficial in your clinical residency as you work to obtain those clinical resources within those areas of interest.
Then upon meeting with a potential clinical supervisor, pay attention to non-verbal cues. I had the misfortune of “interviewing” and then paying for someone without meeting them in person. After the first paid session, I felt such a disconnect that I had to have a conversation about discontinuing sessions until I could meet in person. Always remember, as supervisees, you have the right to “hire” someone that is going to help you to get your clinical needs met. That is why the clinical supervision process is so important. If you feel that this potential supervisor is not a person that you can develop trust and confidence within the relationship and that your feelings and questions will be “heard”, then conduct self-advocacy and find someone else.
Finally, make sure to get a contract on the terms of your supervision agreement. This will set the parameters of what each party is expecting within this arrangement. Then, keep impeccable records. I have known of situations in which the clinical supervisor did not keep very good records. This is your supervision experience in which you are paying for. It is of utmost importance that you do not expect anyone else to track your supervision hours. In this process, you, are your own best advocate.
Joanne Thomas is a Resident in Counseling, completing clinical residency to become a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Virginia. She has discovered her passion of working with youth and provides individual, family and group counseling services. Concurrently, she is completing coursework to obtain her credential as a Registered Play Therapist and EMDR therapy certification to specialize in working with individuals with trauma history.