I Must Teach You to Cook

Last week I was listening to an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air. A chef with Michelin stars by his name was describing his passion for cooking for the displaced. Jose Andres described how his non-profit had gone into Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria and cooked thousands of meals for survivors (read his book We Fed an Island). In my mind I could imagine this magnificent cooking machine where trained chefs would train other chefs to train volunteers who would then have the responsibility for cooking meals for the needy. “I must do this!” I thought. Then I realized; I already do.

When I decided to supervise interns, I accepted the responsibility to teach an apprentice my skills. Sometimes I was Emeril Legasse and we would laugh and enjoy our time; sometimes I was Gordan Ramsey and my trainee would leave my office in tears. Regardless of my methods, when I signed on the dotted line, I was confident that the counselor I trained would go on to serve his or her community and do good work.

Supervising interns led to my decision to train licensed professional counselors to supervise. Thirty-five cohorts later I look back and realize (if we follow the metaphor) I have trained hundreds of cooks to train other cooks to serve meals to countless communities. The number of people served is mind-boggling! Still I want to do more. I want to teach supervisors to provide their own counselor supervisor training.

Let’s do the math. One training creates five new supervisors. Those five supervisors take on two interns each. Those ten interns each take on a caseload of twenty clients per week for eighteen months. And since they won’t see the same twenty clients for the entire eighteen months, let’s guesstimate that each intern will impact five hundred individuals and families over the course of their internship via individual and group counseling. Check my numbers, but that sounds like five thousand people impacted by a single supervisor training.

That is why I must teach you to train others. I must teach you to go beyond supervising interns and make the leap to train counselors to become supervisors. This will require skills that look more like opening a restaurant than counseling a client, but you can do it. There is no end to disasters, loneliness, grief, and war, so why stop with just serving a small group, or one community? Let’s go save the world, one meal at a time.

Core Components of a 40 Hour Supervisor Training

Texas supervisor training program, speaking, consulting
40 hour supervisor training, consultation
Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC/LMFT Supervisor and Dr. Christopher Taylor Ph.D., LPC-S

40 hour supervisor training, consultationOn May 19 2018 Dr. Chris Taylor and I traveled to El Paso and delivered a train the trainer course to twenty licensed professional counselors. Why? Because there is a massive shortage of licensed mental health providers in the El Paso and surrounding areas and the domino effect is devastating. Where there are few licensed providers there are few approved supervisors and where there are few approved supervisors there are few interns. Bottom line: we can’t attract new professionals into rural communities unless we establish a pipeline of licensed professionals willing to become approved supervisors.

Thanks to Dr. Paul Carrola, The University of Texas El Paso, and the Paso del Norte Center for Mental and Emotional Well Being we were able to deliver a FREE six hour training to licensed professional counselors interested in providing the 40 hour supervisor training. Using the content from the Kate Walker Training 40 Hour LPC/LMFT supervisor course, we were able to give participants a solid foundation to provide their own 40 hour course. We chose to focus on four key elements:

  1. Become a CE Provider
  2. Create legal/compliant content
  3. Create practical/effective content
  4. Create content that safeguards the public and your license

40 hour supervisor training, consultationBecome a CE Provider

First, fill out the form, write your check to the state, and become a CE provider. As of the date of this published blog, in Texas both LPC and LMFT rules require that you must become an approved CE provider before you can sell seats to your own 40 hour training. LPC rules go on to stipulate that 40 hour teachers must also be approved supervisors and approved 40 hour training providers.

Compliant Content

Next, you must have content that is compliant with the rules for the training you wish to teach. This includes not only checking out LPC and LMFT rules for the content you must include, you must also make sure you cover recent rule changes, trending complaints, and policies the board may have adopted but not published yet. Creating compliant content means as a trainer you must attend board meetings so you will be familiar not only with the rules but with the latest board actions and policies.

40 hour supervisor training, consultationPractical Content

In addition to compliant content, you must deliver practical tools. As a wise man once told me, “I’ve never heard a complaint against someone because they didn’t know their theories.” Most board complaints against supervisors are administrative in nature. The supervisor didn’t keep accurate records; the supervisor wasn’t aware of the number of supervision hours needed each month; or the supervisor didn’t provide enough documentation. When you teach a supervision course you must provide practical tools so new supervisors are successful.

Content that Safeguards the Public

Finally, you must provide content to help new supervisors safeguard the public, their license, and your license. How do you teach a new intern to assess suicidal and homicidal ideation? Assess and report abuse? Stay safe with violent clients or dicey work settings? These are things your participants may KNOW because they are seasoned practitioners. As the instructor you must teach your participants how to ‘teach that skill’ to level 1 interns who may think they already know it all. At Kate Walker Training we devote time to helping our participants go beyond a supervision contract so they are able to confidently teach new interns these skills before they ever start seeing clients.40 hour training, consultation

We need more supervisors! We also know that designing and delivering an effective supervisor training can be hard. If you are interested in becoming a trainer, stay tuned. We’ll have more info coming the end of August.

 

Texas Mental Health Crisis: Intern Supervision and Underserved Areas

Texas supervisor training program, speaking, consulting

Texas We Have a Problem

Here’s the thing. In light of recent events I want to speak to all of the problems Texas has when it comes to providing excellent, accessible, and affordable mental health care. I want to outline solutions, propose law changes, and rally the troops. Texas seems to enjoy competing for 49th or 50th place when it comes to quality mental health care in America and this little blog post probably won’t change that. So, as a counselor supervisor, counselor educator, and practicing clinician, I will talk about what I know. This post is about counselor intern supervision and supervisor training.

For those readers who aren’t familiar with Texas rules governing licensed professional counselors:

  • Every Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Texas must spend 3000 hours as a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern under the supervision of a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S).
  • There are places in Texas where there are no licensed professional counselors or supervisors (see the white areas in the map below).
  • There are strict limits on the number of supervision hours interns can accrue using technology.

Training more supervisors in rural areas and lifting the restrictions on webcam supervision would be easy first steps to helping Texans gain access to quality mental health care.

Texas supervisor training program, speaking, consulting

 

Counselors and Webcams

Increasing allowable intern supervision hours via technology is a no-brainer. The Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage, and Referral Project at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is pioneering the use of technology to screen junior high and high school students, identify those most at risk for committing violence in schools, and intervene before anything happens. Data are already showing that the screenings have helped avert violent incidents and provide students the help they need. Why can’t interns attend supervision using the same technology? Counseling graduates on the fence about where to practice might choose underserved areas if they did not have to travel long distances to receive face to face supervision. Arguments against using technology in mental health are archaic and have become a roadblock to care.

Counselor Supervision Training

Changing the rules about technology and supervision is only a start. Long story short, we need seasoned counselors and counselor supervisors in underserved areas. One LPC Supervisor Course attended by five participants who agree to take on just two interns can impact hundreds of people in need of quality mental health care. Recently I, along with Dr. Christopher Taylor offered a six hour course to twenty participants in El Paso interested in offering their own 40 hour training. How exciting is that? Twenty seasoned licensed professional counselor supervisors near one of the most underserved areas in the state are now trained and willing to provide their own courses. Their impact alone could be a game-changer for interns who feel called to work in underserved areas.

Texas supervisor training, speaking, consulting

Lifting limits on technology and increasing the number of supervisors won’t solve everything but it’s a start. We still need to give interns the ability to bill Medicaid. We still need to convince the military and Tricare to hire licensed professional counselors. And we need to help Medicare understand that refusing to allow counselors to be credentialed under their plans makes them part of the problem. Texas, we need counselors and supervisors more than ever before. And we need them now.

Take the Next Step in Your Counseling Career

Texas supervisor training speaking consulting private practice

When I am speaking at an event or consulting one-on-one with counselors, I find there is always some confusion about the next right steps to take in a counseling career. Most of us started out with a story of strength and a dream to help. We persevered over adversity or we encountered something that we thought would kill us and instead it made us stronger. Most of us leaned on the shoulder of a counselor or therapist and learned we really could be ok. For most of us, turning that story into a career was life changing. Whether we decided to work in an agency, school, or private practice, getting paid to do what we loved to do was living the dream. A few years down the road from that first client, lots of mental health professionals are ready for a new challenge, a change of client ‘scenery,’ and improved income. Private practice, supervising, and supervisor training are just a few things you can think about as you plan the rest of your counseling career.

Agency to Private Practice

For lots of mental health professionals just starting out private practice can seem scary. With a few tricks and systems however, private practice is very do-able. Part time practice can be ideal for full time parents. You can make your schedule as busy as you like. Set a higher rate for your services so you keep your practice low volume and still pay your rent and buy groceries. Those who want a lucrative, high volume, full time practice can also set a rate and a create a schedule that meets their goals. There are many affordable consultants, tools, and boot camps you can utilize to get started on the right foot, stay compliant, and stop wasting time.

Integrating Supervision Into Private Practice

Becoming a supervisor is a wonderful way to expand your skills, give back to the profession, and add another stream of income to your practice. In most states extra training is required. If your state doesn’t require extra training, I’d get some anyway. Most supervisor training programs will teach you what you’ll need to know to stay organized, stay compliant, and mentor your interns. Like private practice, supervision means taking a leap into the unknown, but the rewards are worth it. There are so many ways to integrate supervision into a practice! You can start a non-profit and allow your interns to see clients at a reduced rate. The Ann’s Place Business Model shows you how to barter supervision for interns who will see your self-pay clients who need a sliding fee-scale. This helps your interns, your community, and your bottom line. Or you can take the more traditional route and charge your interns for your supervision services.

Provide Your Own Supervisor Training

Probably the most lucrative of all of these streams of income, is offering your own supervisor training. Costs for these courses can run anywhere from $500 to $1000 dollars per person. With some concentrated effort on the front end, you can enjoy this income stream as often as you can fill the seats. Teaching will enhance your own clinical skills as well and take your practice to a whole new level

Private practice, supervision, and providing a supervisor training are just a few ways you can create a career that will keep growing and changing with you. After all, your story isn’t over. Check out my book on Amazon, “My Next Steps: Create a Counseling Career You’ll Love,” for more ideas, advice from experts in the field, and a step by step guide so you can create the career you fell in love with.

Multiplying Streams of Income

multiple-income-streams

As I meditate on those truths that we hold to be self-evident, I can’t help but wonder what happened to the private practice owner. Most of us who graduated from a counseling program received little to no business education. Because of that, while we are pursuing life, liberty, and happiness we are simultaneously struggling with finances, time, and burnout. I was going to list the Counselor’s Bill of Rights, but instead I came up with the Counselor’s List of Exceptions:

  1. Everyone gets sick and must take time off from work to heal, “Except the private practice owner – if she takes a sick day she will not make money.” 
  1. We will all slow down or retire as we age and become less physically able, “Except the private practice owner – he shall work until he dies because he lives off of everything he makes and the rest goes to taxes.”
  1. Savings accounts will be used to fix things when they break, “Except the private practice owner – since she has no savings (see number 2) she will have to max out her credit cards when the air conditioner finally goes out.”

This is not okay!

A common solution to this very common problem is to develop Multiple Streams of Income. Your other income sources will not only provide cash you can use for a rainy day, they can fund a retirement account, or provide investment capital for your growing business.

Here are examples of some streams of income so your business keeps working even if you need a day off:

  1. Your supportive partner’s income. If you have a partner who supports you in your business endeavor, then his/her income can be the cushion you will need if you have to step away from work, or if an emergency hits.
  2. Don’t quit your day job. If you are trained as a teacher, offer to teach online courses or one day per week at a local university. If you are trained as a musician, offer private lessons or take weekend gigs.
  3. Become a LPC/LMFT Supervisor. Interns must have 18 months to 2 years of supervision and rates can range from $40 to $100 per hour.
  4. Monetize your website. Is there a product you love and would love to offer to your clients? Become an affiliate and offer those products on your website (follow your state’s laws and ethics codes).
  5. Get creative. You can develop courses for parents, offer online continuing education to your peers, or give talks where you sell materials you have developed.
  6. Combine altruism and entrepreneurism. ‘Altrepreneurism’ is a business model used by companies like Tom’s Shoes and employs a ‘givers gain’ philosophy. One example might be to use interns to deliver affordable counseling to your community in exchange for free supervision from you. You receive additional client income when you aren’t in your office and your interns get free supervision. We have a wonderful example of this and you can learn more here on our Ann’s Place website.