10 Tips: Choosing your LPC Supervisor

The following rank in the top ten for choosing an Atlanta CPCS Supervisor.

1) Experience, experience, experience.

When seeking an LPC to provide supervision for licensure, there is no substitute for experience. The ideal LPC Supervisor will have at least 5 years post licensure experience working inpatient, residential, outpatient and private practice and 5 years of providing supervision. Ethical dilemmas, substance abuse and severe clinical mental illness should not be a challenge for your supervisor. They should be fully familiar with the Composite Board license application process.

2) Client profile, crisis interventions and substance abuse / addiction.

Determine what age groups they specialize in. Ask what percentage of their experience is in geriatric, adult, adolescent and child counseling. These are all highly specialized areas and you will want to be sure a significant percentage of their client load and experience aligns with yours. Some clients require a high degree of management and often decisive action by the therapist- suicidal, self harming/cutters, binge/purge, dissociation, oppositional defiant disorder. For example, if you work with adolescents in a residential setting your supervisor should have the same experience. If you work with adult survivors of abuse your supervisor should be competent in treating addiction, PTSD, personality disorders, self-harming, panic disorder and dissociative disorders. LPC supervisors should be experienced with DSM V and a possess a working knowledge of diagnoses and determining required level of care. They should be experienced in treating substance abuse as you will encounter it in your work setting and it is a frequent obstacle to successful treatment of mental illness.

3) Ask if they have denied any of their LAPC’s recommendation for full LPC licensure upon completion of the supervision experience.

One of the primary reasons we seek supervision is because it is required for licensure. It is also in the best interest of the public that the law requires monitored training for individuals issued state licenses for healthcare practice. Occasionally, a supervisor will after completion of supervision refuse to recommend the applicant for licensure. The reasons are varied but usually because the supervisor believes the therapist has deficiencies in counselors skills or ethics or lack of competence. It is important to establish a mutual understanding that as soon as the supervisor has determined these deficiencies they will be articulated and alternate arrangements for supervision can be made if necessary.

I require an initial interview of all supervisees. The interview is free.
If interested please call me, 404-985-6785. Completing this 5 hour “Ethics and Avoiding Board Complaints for SW, PC and MFT” Workshop will be very helpful for you and your Georgia LPC Supervisor as you complete your supervision.

4) Know what you can disclose to your supervisor.

In order to develop as a therapist, you should be in a training environment that feels safe. Whereas Georgia Composite Board ethics address “full professional consideration” with colleagues, communication is not legally protected in the same manner as patient information. If your clinical supervisor is also your job superior, you are in a dual relationship by virtue of the “bind” of the supervisor. This doesn’t mean that supervision with them is not possible, but they may need to make decisions whether to report to the next person up the chain of command. Clarify this in advance. It may be wise to contract with an independent LPC supervisor instead. In both cases, it is important to ask questions about their personal limits on privacy in supervision.

5) Are they familiar with LPC licensure requirements?

LPC supervisors should be experienced with the GA LPC licensure reuirements. It is important to note that despite some exceptions, nobody can say or convey to peers they know the rules simply by reading them. This is especially true for our code of ethics. The Composite Board of LPC LCSW and LMFT and most regulatory boards write rules in a manner that allows flexibility in how they interpret and apply the rules. This is referred to as, “discretion”. We can read a rule verbatim, but we can’t claim to know it. Only the board knows and they normally do not convey to the public or profession matters of discretionary enforcement. Still, you should find an LPC Clinical supervisor that has guided LAPC’s to successful LPC licensing.

6) Supervision is more than case presentation. Ask the full spectrum of their supervision objectives.

Proper supervision requires much more than going over a list of cases together.
a) Sometimes you may need to utilize the entire session on one patient. Exploring issues relevant to a single patient can often translate into principles that you can use across a variety of clients and scenarios.
b) Some patients are more complex than others and therefore require greater attention.
c) You may require an entire session discussing matters other than case presentation- burnout, feelings of failure, etc.

7) Make sure there is a method to their madness.

A supervisor should have a clear and fully – formulated approach. Ask them which model/models they use to develop peers in supervision. There are many models but some key factors to consider and you should ask how they weigh them in importance in their development of good therapists: authority, mentoring, active intervention, gatekeeping, psychotherapeutic interventions and evaluation. View an article and pie chart that fully describes my model and rationale for supervision.

Do you want a Low or Highly Structured Supervision?

See the hand-drawn illustration below. Structure refers to the extent to which your supervisor allows you to work and problem-solve independently and with minimal intervention. As the diagram shows, the objective is to find a balanced approach but ultimately the level of structure is largely determined by the CPCS supervisor’s comfort level. atlanta-cpcs-supervisors

8) Select your supervisor similarly to how you selected your therapist

Selecting a supervisor is similar to selecting a therapist. You should have a positive rapport. There should be a ‘click’.

9) Group v. Individual Supervision

Advantages of group supervision is affordability. Advantages of individual supervision include greater privacy.

10) I am uncomfortable sharing certain things with my boss who is also my clinical supervisor.

In the State of georgia, your clinical supervisor does not need to be at your work site. (I have used the term “clinical supervisor” for purposes of distinguishing this person from your boss. In the GA licensing rules definitions, it is simply “supervisor” and “director”. Director=boss.) There are many private supervisors and you can arrange to see them at their office–same as you would see your therapist. Individual supervision with a private supervisor has many advantages–the employer/employee conflict can be eliminated, you can focus on growth and development in addition to case presentation. Private supervision usually provides a greater degree of confidentiality.

I am a specialist in LPC Supervision and adjudicated over 7000 LPC applications and 200 licensee complaints during a 7 year appointment to the GA Comp Board. I have always been happy to share my experience with counselors in any manner possible and often free of charge.

This list of tips is not exhaustive. Find a list of qualified LPC supervisors and remember: whatever choice you make, make your supervision an exciting part of your licensing journey.