The goals and functions of a supervisor can take many forms. A professional mentor or supervisor can provide support and encouragement, build confidence, and supply much-needed continuing education and refine their clinical skills, especially early in a therapist's career.
A seasoned therapist with extensive training and experience can offer feedback, direction, educational information, one-on-one role play, and new techniques. The supervisor can review cases, discuss different intervention techniques, and help the therapist overcome clinical obstacles. Even though these discussions require additional hours of supervision and carry an extra expense, the gained experience is well worth it.
Therapists can also meet with a supervisor to work on Self of the Therapist topics. There will always be clients that trigger a specific memory or reaction for the therapist and at one point or another the therapist will get blocked. It is imperative for the therapist to examine his or her emotions in order to loosen the block and continue to work effectively with clients. If blocks are not addressed they can continue to get in the way of good therapy and in worst cases are harmful to our clients.
Lastly, a supervisor's experience can help a therapist learn about building a private practice. Most graduate programs do not offer much education or practical business information focused around private practice. A clinician can always learn through trial and error, but a seasoned supervisor who runs a practice can provide organizational tips, help develop a business plan, offer a network of resources, and deliver business support.
Know your needs and wants in securing supervision and whether any board, state, or graduate program supervisory requirements exist (e.g. certification, board approved, hours of experience, etc.).
Here are the questions to ask when interviewing a potential supervisor/mentor. (You can also download this checklist here!)
[BONUS TIP] During an internship most clinicians need a supervisor to approve the intern's clinical hours. This option comes with the largest set of requirements. It is important to know your state and/or board regulations in order to choose a supervisor with the correct credentials. DO NOT rely on the supervisor to know your requirements. You must know what is needed to complete the requirements!
Grab this question checklist "to go"!
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