**FREE Supervision Preparation Worksheet and
Excel Hour Tracker explained in post!**
The Rigorous Process of Becoming Licensed
If you’re new to the counseling profession, prepare yourself for the shocked expressions that friends and family show when you describe all the steps it takes to become a licensed therapist. As you know, obtaining your master’s degree is just the beginning. Then there are the countless hours spent studying for the professional exams and pouring over the DSM-5. As you study, you also begin practicing under the weekly supervision of a licensed therapist. Over the course of a MINIMUM of two years, you gain 3,000 hours working with people struggling with a variety of mental and behavioral health concerns.
It sounds daunting to friends and family, who have no clue the extent of the rigorous process it takes to become a licensed counselor. And for the freshly graduated practitioners, the process becomes even more challenging as they embark on the journey.
There is good reason the profession requires such demand. The work we do as mental health therapists is incredibly important for the people we serve. And without appropriate supervision to guide budding counselors through messy and difficult clinical decisions, many people could be accidentally harmed by incompetence. Quality supervision is key in becoming a quality counselor.
So, as a provisionally licensed practitioner, how do you make the most of supervision? What can you do to ensure you are being properly prepared for the complex work you have been drawn to?
Acknowledge your strengths. Know your weaknesses. Learn your biases, your triggers. Observe your reactions to different people and situations. As counselors, we are people. We come into the therapy office with our own invisible baggage. That’s ok, it’s impossible not to. Our experiences make us the people we are. But we need to be aware of how our beliefs, history and relationships can affect the work we do as therapists.
Go into supervision willing to learn about yourself. Ask your supervisor for help in learning how to control your biases, triggers, beliefs, history, and current life circumstances while working with clients. Learn ways to separate your personal life from your professional one. Discover what types of clients you will work well with, and which populations might be best for you to refer to other clinicians.
Know Your Goals for Supervision
Come to supervision with goals. Know what you want to work on or improve. If you are struggling with a specific case, bring that case to your supervisor’s attention. If you are wanting to improve your skills on a type of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, ask your supervisor to focus on teaching those skills. Make notes throughout the week of what you want to discuss with your supervisor. During your hour of supervision, create goals for the week in which you practice what you have learned.
To make this easier for you, I created a free downloadable worksheet to prepare for supervision each week. Use this worksheet for a month or two and see how much more productive your supervision hours become. You will also notice that your skills as a clinician will improve faster with more direct and focused attention on your clinical goals. It’s hard to improve in areas when you don’t set specific goals.
Choose a Quality Supervisor
Having a good supervisor is crucial for growing into a competent counselor. Seek a supervisor that displays the qualities and values that are important to you, and which you hope to become like. As with anything in life, the people and mentors that you surround yourself with are who you are going to begin to emulate!
Most often, new graduates enter the workforce into agencies that provide free or reduced-cost supervision. Sometimes the supervisors they are provided with are also their direct managers that sign their checks. Or office politics can deter a new counselor from approaching their supervisor about specific topics or agency issues. And unfortunately, some new counselors have supervisors that are unethical, burned-out, or incompetent. To become the best and healthiest counselor that you are capable of becoming, you must have good quality and trustworthy supervision. Sometimes that means you may need to seek supervision outside your employing agency. Do not remain under inadequate supervision if you do not wish to become the type of practitioner that your supervisor is.
Track Your Hours as You Go
I wanted to offer one more resource to make your life a little easier. A spreadsheet that will track and add your hours for you as you go. You simply enter the number of hours worked each week. By the time you are ready to apply for your license, you will have a detailed account of your hours. Click File and download as a Microsoft Excel sheet (.xlsx) and everything is set up for you. I hope this post on how to get the most out of clinical supervision has been helpful!
Finally, if you or a colleague are looking for a quality supervisor, I offer clinical supervision for Nebraska provisional social workers and counselors. Call me at 531.289.8246 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how supervision with me can help you reach your goals as a counselor. Have a great day!