Tips for a New Counselor in Supervision
As a new counselor in supervision it is important to know your clinical supervisor had to take a 40 hour graduate-level supervisor training course five years AFTER they became fully licensed. But, did you know that not every course prepares supervisors to handle common issues new counselors encounter?
If supervisors do their job, they will train new counselors to make ethical decisions, under duress, while no one is watching. What often happens though is Level 1 associates (new counselors) struggle with those critical decision making skills. It's not because they weren't trained in their graduate program; it could be because they:
- Don't have experience
- Are being supervised by someone who wasn't trained to handle new counselor situations, or
- They have a great supervisor who never focuses on critical incidents in session
The following is a list of resources and tips to help new counselors in supervision hit the ground running no matter WHAT kind of a clinical supervision experience they are having.
What are some of the common problems for beginning counselors?
Few resources for ‘first times'
According to our licensure codes, we are only supposed to counsel within our scope of practice. For a new counselor in supervision that is a problem. Why? Because new counselors don't really have a scope of practice yet. In fact, counselor supervisors will help new counselors through all of their ‘firsts:'
- Family session
- Male/female/trans/doesn't look like me client
- Gay couple
- Couple surviving infidelity
Tip #1: Check out just a few of the books I recommend new counselors in supervision read within their first month:
No quick assessments for suicide and homicide
What is an emergency? When should a new counselor ask their supervisor for help? So often I hear supervisors say, “Well it's just common sense!” A great counselor supervisor training teaches three essential systems:
- orientation (teach how you want your supervisees to handle emergencies)
- evaluation (make sure they can do it)
- remediation (re-teach it if they don't do it correctly).
Tip #2: Grab these ‘pocket assessments' new counselors can use today.
Difficulty with criticism
Supervisors must teach new counselors how to receive criticism. Why? Supervisors are gatekeepers for the profession. Their job is to correct, evaluate, and critique. New counselors with hurt feelings or who feel overly criticized will hide things from their supervisors. This is called vicarious liability.
Tip #3: As a new counselor if you know you don't take criticism well, you are a grudge-holder, or you notice you are having trauma responses during supervision, take the initiative and talk to your clinical supervisor. Both of you together can come up with a plan to help you move forward.
Tip #4 Know your license rules. Download them onto your tablet or phone, or keep them in a binder.
Tip #5 Know federal HIPAA law and take a training yearly.
Creating a list of resources and tips is a great way new counselors in supervision can hit the ground running no matter WHAT kind of a clinical supervision experience they are having. This list is by no means complete! Keep building your own list of tips and resources and share yours in Texas Counselors Creating Badass Businesses.
Blog post by Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC/LMFT Supervisor
Looking for resources for your counseling practice? Grab it now!