Do you know what to look for in a clinical supervision contract? In my 40 hour training to become a clinical supervisor in Texas participants learn how to design a great contract for their future supervisees. The problem? They don't teach graduate students about the contract they are about to sign! Here are my best tips on what to look for in your supervisor's clinical supervision contract.
TCCBB #24 What to Look for in a Clinical Supervision Contract
What is a clinical supervision contract?
To define what a clinical supervision contract is I'm going to start with the American Counseling Association. The ACA division Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), developed ACES Best Supervision Practices. The best practices for a supervision contract are:
“In a supervision contract the supervisor verbally describes and provides the supervisee with a written contract or syllabus that outlines expectations of the supervisor and supervisee. This includes the criteria for evaluation, consequences of underperformance, tasks. functions and goals of supervision and ethical and legal considerations.”
Even though the best practices are out there, it is rare for graduate professors to teach them to their graduate students. So the first thing to remember is, if you didn't learn about them you are not alone.
And so, the first time many counseling graduate students hear about the contract is when they have already decided on a particular clinical supervisor. Unfortunately, they often sign without thinking about the consequences. After all, they're just grateful they have found a supervisor!
What should be included in a clinical supervision contract?
One important thing to look for in a good supervision contract is a section that tells you how long you can be unemployed.
For example, in Texas when you turn in your initial application, you aren't required to have a job yet. Will you supervisor allow you to wait a few months for a job to open up? What if you quit your job? What if your job terminates your employment?
Look for a section in the contract that tells you how long you can be unemployed and how long you can take approved breaks.
Other things to look for on your contract are:
- Will the supervisor incorporate multicultural competencies into supervision?
- Will they supervise you if you own your own practice?
- How many sites can your you have?
- Will they be ok with you being very slow to collect direct hours (after all life happens)?
- Do they require HIPAA or technology training?
- Will they do webcam supervision if you are running late and need to pull into a parking lot to avoid being late?
- Speaking of late, what is their late cancel/no-show policy?
What should NOT be in a clinical supervision contract
Are you planning to work for your supervisor?
Your clinical contract should not contain anything having to do with employment. That's what the policy and procedures manual is for! Anything that has to do with employment does not belong in the clinical contract.
Whether you plan to work for your supervisor or not, check check for anything in the contract that indicates your supervisor's signature is tied to your performance. Bottom line: If you attended supervision that day, your supervisor must sign off on your hours.
Additionally, the rules say that if you have messed up (and you will mess up!) your supervisor must remediate you before they terminate you. Remediation isn't a punishment. Rather, it is your supervisor giving you the opportunity to learn more about a particular concept before you become a fully licensed professional.
Grad school probably didn't teach you what to look for in a clinical supervision contract. Don't worry if you have signed a contract you don't love. Just communicate with your supervisor if there are things you aren't sure about. Share this blog post with them – they will be glad you did!
Blog post by Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC/LMFT Supervisor in Texas
Blog post by Kate Walker LPC/LMFT Supervisor in Texas
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