Congratulations to newly qualified therapists and those seeking to advance their careers and expand their skills! Reaching this point in your academic and professional lives is a considerable feat—one you should be immensely proud of. With your newly minted degree, it makes sense that you’re looking forward to joining the workforce and anxious to put your skills to use. However, there are many things to figure out before you can dive into the working world. It’s hard to know where to start (and who’s hiring) when you first enter the field.
Should you market yourself as a coach and begin private practice sessions right away, or should you join the ranks of a treatment center and dive into the realm of SPMI’s and addiction treatment? Will your new employer provide supervision, or should you seek out a supervisory relationship separately?
Beyond those concerns, you’ll also need to determine a therapeutic modality that fits for you, find peace with charging for your services, and learn how to have the “business” conversations with your clients.
For these reasons and more, supervision is a beautiful gift. During this part of your professional journey, you’ll learn more about yourself and improve your critical skills, sharpening your understanding and making you grow in ways you never thought possible.
Whether you are interested in obtaining licensure or want to gain a thorough understanding of clinical supervision before you hire a supervisor, (or you’re just curious about the process that your therapist goes through) you have come to the right place!
Why is Supervision for Mental Health Professionals Essential?
Clinical supervision for mental health professionals has been invaluable for over 150 years. As such, it remains one of the most critical competencies and markers used by mental health professionals today. In addition, clinical supervisors often serve as a link between the academic and theoretical worlds and the clinical setting. In its most basic sense, supervision entrusts a more experienced provider to offer support, advice, and professional oversight to newer practitioners. As you work, you will speak to your supervisor, who can help you navigate challenges and successes by acting as a soundboard as you take on perplexing situations.
Working with your supervisor is similar to working with a mentor. The information they provide is essential for learning and applying your skills and knowledge to your caseload. Your supervisor can help you understand the situation if ethical or therapeutic difficulties arise. They can also help you evaluate the options available. Supervision ultimately ensures you know the standards, values, and principles and how to apply them in real-world situations.
Benefits of Supervision:
- Boosts your confidence and skills
- Provides a safe environment for sharing opinions and reactions
- An opportunity to be heard and guided
- Builds confidence in your reactions and rectifies any prejudices you may have
- Explore, identify, and address your countertransference and how it may impact your client
- Strengthen your diagnostic skills
- Works to identify your style as a therapist
The Role of Supervision in Advancing Therapists’ Development as Practitioners and People
There is no doubt that supervision offers a unique opportunity for growth as a practitioner. In many professional settings or future jobs, it is unlikely that you will have a supervisor who can devote a full hour (or more) of uninterrupted time to your professional development. Supervision is instrumental in developing who you are as a professional and what kind of mental health practitioner you wish to be. These sessions can be a space to learn more about yourself and your needs and boundaries as a professional. Supervision is not a time to be shy; we all have areas where we can improve. Use supervision time to get performance feedback and identify skill development areas.
While supervisors ensure that new therapists receive the necessary training to provide quality counseling to their clients, you must push yourself to learn and grow from every professional or personal opportunity. Development can occur even in the most challenging situations where you want to pull your hair out. For example, while working in the mental health field, it is no secret that you will inevitably face conflicting beliefs and moral dilemmas. Discuss these moments in supervision to learn about yourself, challenge your thoughts, and better understand your feelings and biases.
The more open you are, the better off you and your clients will be in the long run. The amount of knowledge you can gain from your supervisor alone is immeasurable, which is why working with a supervisor is an integral part of your career. You will become increasingly conscious of your strengths and weaknesses during clinical supervision. Using this knowledge as an opportunity for growth rather than becoming defensive will demonstrate your willingness to learn and show you’re serious about growing professionally. The more open and honest you are, the more you and your clients will benefit from your increased self-awareness. The amount of knowledge you can gain from your supervisor alone is immeasurable, which is why working with a supervisor is an integral part of your career.
How Do I Choose the Right Clinical Supervisor?
You may feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a clinical supervisor. While your new job may have licensed clinicians who supervise, what if you don’t get along? Alternatively, what do you do if your job doesn’t have the resources to provide supervision and you have to find your own?
First, ensure you know what you are looking for in a supervisor before searching. Having a clear picture of what you’re looking for and where you hope to go in your career will help you find supervisors who share your passion, support your goals, and are easy to talk to. Make sure your potential supervisors meet you before you agree to work with them. This will allow you to see how they interact with you, their presence, and how you feel around them. It’ll also give you a sense of how they collaborate with their supervisees. For a different perspective, ask if they can share any contact information from their previous supervisees. As a result, you’ll be able to get to know them more from the perspective of a supervisee than from their viewpoint.
There’s nothing like the special relationship you build with your supervisor. You might end up working with them for years, so finding a reputable supervisor you can trust is worthwhile. Ultimately, this is the person you will turn to for assistance in developing your skills and assessing complex cases. Therefore, you will want to respect their approach and how they work with their clients.
A few qualities to look for when choosing a supervisor:
- Gives you the time and attention you deserve
- Works with you to build your problem-solving skills and strengthens them over time
- Provides guidance on continuing education and identifies specific training to attend based on your career goals
- Consistently schedules and attends supervision at a time with as few distractions as possible
- Connects with you authentically, so you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and opinions openly
At Pure Health Center, we constantly strive to improve our mental health services in terms of availability, quality, and effectiveness. Our commitment to our clients, mental health professionals, and the success of the field has led us to offer clinical supervision for mental health professionals to meet the ever-growing needs of the mental health community.
For newly graduated mental health practitioners, we cannot emphasize enough how critical supervision is for your success. At the same time, however, we understand that not every therapist has access to the clinical support they need to thrive. Therefore, with experience and compassion, we offer individual supervision with clinicians who sincerely hope you succeed. Additionally, all our team members are committed to anti-racism, are trauma-informed, and engage in continuous education to provide you with the latest evidence-based practices.
If you want to accelerate your career growth in Chicago or know someone looking for clinical supervision, we are here to help you grow to your full potential. Please get in touch with us for more information about our supervisors or to schedule a consultation.