Here in Colorado, clinical supervision is starting to change. For years, to be a clinical supervisor in Colorado, you simply needed to have your license. Now, legislature is moving through to add experienced-based requirements for therapists (I follow the LPC board), and organizations such as the CCA are pushing for competency-based requirements instead.
What’s the difference? Experienced-based requirements simply mean that someone would have to have their license a certain amount of time (I’ve heard both 3 and 5 years being proposed) before becoming a clinical supervisor. Competency-based means that someone would have to take a supervision training (CCA is proposing 6 hours) before becoming a supervisor.
I’m definitely on the competency side of the debate. Supervision is a unique and different skill set from our clinical training as therapists, and therefore supervisors need to have training in this new competency area. This isn’t just my opinion! I’m working on the ACS (Approved Clinical Supervisor), a national credential well above the proposed competency requirement in Colorado, and it is consistently taught that clinical supervision is its own specialty. Let’s break down why supervision training matters.
It Brings a Standard of Care to Supervision
Most areas of healthcare and mental health include some kind of Standard of Care: guidelines for appropriate and ethical treatment. Why should supervision be any different? If anything, supervisors should be held to a higher standard, as they’re entrusted with the next generation of therapists.
Competency requirements for supervisors means that new supervisors will have to learn the ethics, standards, and best practices for the specific practice of supervision.
It Makes Supervision More Intentional
Just like having a theoretical orientation helps you be more intentional with your therapy interventions, a supervision orientation helps you be more intentional with supervision interventions.
And yes, supervision has specific interventions and multiple orientations! It’s not just checking in with your supervisee and reviewing their work. Supervision training helps you develop strategic interventions, which ultimately makes supervision more effective and helpful.
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It Helps Supervisees Know What to Expect from Their Supervisor
A supervisee who can expect consistency from their supervisor is absolutely going to get more out of the experience. Supervision absolutely has a relationship development- think of it like Erikson’s phases of development. At the beginning of any supervisory relationship, the supervisees is going through Trust/Mistrust. “Are you going to help me get my hours? Are you going to tell me I’m horrible all the time? Are you going to teach me anything?” All of this comes down to…. “Can I trust you?”
Consistency helps the supervisee develop trust!
It Adds Accountability for Supervisors
We don’t just need interventions for supervisees. We need them for us! Having a framework helps hold supervisors accountable. This is true on the macro level- having a certain amount of training required- but it also holds me accountable as a supervisor on the micro level.
Because I have developed a framework and orientation for supervision, I can’t comfortably or ethically just sit there and talk about nothing with my supervisee, or act like I’m her personal therapist. Supervision training and continuing education help to ensure that I’m doing my job.
It Makes Supervision More Valuable
If supervision is more intentional and allows for a faster and more solid trusting relationship between the supervisor and supervisee, then it makes sense that supervision will also be more valuable.
Part of having a clinical supervision orientation is identifying ways in which you can help supervisees meet their goals. It’s essentially having a treatment plan for supervision. And that means that every single session can be working toward those big goals in some way. That is naturally going to make supervision more valuable for the supervisee!
Put all of these factors together, and you can see a picture of clinical supervision that is truly beneficial and career-forming, for both supervisees and supervisors.
Learn more about the ACS credential here
Learn more about CCA’s Advocacy efforts here