Wednesday, January 22, 2014

7 Ways To Start The Search For The Perfect Clinical Supervisor

After graduation, there's one thing standing between you and your dream career - your clinical internship. This internship is made up of two essential ingredients: several thousand hours, and a clinical supervisor. This is a person you will spend 2-5 years with, who will sign off on your license application, and shape your perspective on counseling as a profession. Kind of a big deal. 

Ironically enough, such a big decision often is made for you, as many supervisors "come with" an internship site. Your supervisor is so important to you, it seems crazy that most people get them as a package deal like fries and a Coke. Not that it doesn't make sense - internship sites are hard to come by, and it seems excessive to pay outside fees for a supervisor if you already have one set up. 

But I've found that some people aren't happy with the clinical supervisors they get with their site - sometimes they find out later that the supervisor doesn't have the experience in what they want to learn about, or even in some cases, that the supervisor is unethical. So they have to find a new one.

Some sites, especially nonprofits, don't come with a supervisor at all. They just don't have the means to keep one on staff. 

Any of these situations mean that an intern would have to do their own legwork in finding an independent clinical supervisor. As I discovered when recently asked to help refer an intern to a clinical supervisor, that is not as easy a task as one might think.

To be successful in finding the perfect clinical supervisor, you need several things. 

You need to do your homework and find out what a supervisor wants from you.

You need to know what YOU want in a supervisor and prioritize. 

You need to know how you are going to pay the fees an outside supervisor requires and what you get for those fees

But before all that, you need to know where to start. 

That's what I'm here to help you with today. We're going to talk about seven ways you can get started in your search for the perfect clinical supervisor.

  1. Your University. My school, like many others, keeps a roster of local LPC-S supervisors that have worked with their students before. Usually this includes both outside and site-based supervisors. School bulletin boards in your department might also include advertisements for private clinical supervisors. 
  2. State Rosters. My completely unscientific sampling of several state licensing board showed that each provides a listing of supervisors in their state. There is no further descriptive data on individual supervisors, but it's a place to start. (Examples: Washington, New York) Tip: If your roster is not searchable, download the excel file and sort by city, selecting the column and then "sort." 
  3. Networking. Just as one of you interns asked me, ask another counselor or fellow intern if they know someone who does clinical supervision. Right now, I don't have a huge referral list, but I have a few names I'm happy to share. Someday, I might even be able to refer you to myself! I've been considering getting my supervisor credentials lately...
  4. Supervisor Listing Websites. allows supervisors to list their availability for a low rate, so you're likely to get supervisors of different fee rates if that's important to you. Supervision Today is free for you to search and easy to navigate, for LPCs, LCSWs, and LMFTs.
  5. LinkedIn. Linked in is a surprisingly good and often overlooked resource for finding supervisors, though it won't be as effective if you don't already have some counselor connections. Just type in LPC-S, LMFT-S, etc. into your search box and you'll start coming up with people you are already connected with and people who are connected to potential supervisors.
  6. Psychology Today. This is lower on the list because it's more time-intensive to search. But it's still possible to pull up local listings and scan the credentials of each counselor listed. Some, not all, will list their supervisor credentials here! This is a neat option because you get more information about potential supervisors before you call them. 
  7. Search Engines. This is certainly something that's easy to try, but it's last on the list because it is hard to find the right search term. You're just as likely to get a listing of LPC-S jobs as you are to find LPC-S-es that you can call. But it's worth a shot.
So there you have it. Seven ways to start the search for the perfect clinical supervisor. Try them out and let me know which was most successful for you! But before you do so, will you do one more quick favor for me? 

I've really liked getting to know all of you better, and I think the real strength of Beginning Counselor is in our community. So, in the interest of knowing each other more as well as giving me insight into the kind of referrals you need from me, will you share your experience with me?

If you'll do this quick thing for me, you'll help me jump start a new project I'm working on for all of you. For now, let's just call it the Community Snapshot project...but it can't happen without your help.

I know I have some licensed counselors reading my posts, but this one's just for the students & interns. So you're off the hook.

How did you find your supervisor? What did you learn was important in the search? Share in the comments below!