Clinical Supervision-What and Why?

The last time we talked, I said I would delve deeper into clinical supervision. Many of you are considering social work career paths that may require a clinical license and supervision is one of the requirements to obtain a clinical license.Though specific requirements vary by state and territory, some form of supervision will likely be required before you are allowed to sit for your credentialing exam.

If you’re anything like me, you may be considering a clinical career (counseling/therapy, substance abuse, medical, etc) but are completely in the dark about the clinical supervision process. Before I began my supervision, I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure if it would be a formal training type of experience, internship-esq, or classroom instruction. What I have found, since beginning, is that clinical supervision is meant to be a reflective learning experience. In my opinion, a good supervision will be an experienced clinical social worker who will provide wisdom, advice, and support. Typically, a supervision session will involve the candidate recalling a recent case(s). The candidate will discuss the complications and barriers involved and discuss how s/he was successful or unsuccessful in reaching the desired goal. The supervisor may offer a critique of the candidate’s approach or skills. In many cases, the supervisor will offer advice and suggestions.

In addition to formal leaning activities, as described above, clinical supervision also offers a chance for the candidate to practice self reflection. Talking through cases helps one to see possible areas of bias or sensitivity. It is essential for the clinician to recognize partiality and work to be less judgemental.

Finally, there is opportunity to learn the practical aspects of the profession. For example, my supervisor is in private practice. I often ask her questions about billing and scheduling, etc. You may have questions about their years as experienced clinicians and they are probably happy to share.

The most important thing is to create a relationship where you are comfortable asking any question you may have. You’ll have a lot! Check your state regulations for specific hour and job requirements for supervision. Some places of employment offer on-sight supervision but many do not. If you are thinking of seeking out and privately funding your own supervision, local boards often have lists of providers who may provide this service. Talk to several of the options and find one with whom you feel comfortable and can learn the most. And don’t forget to put the knowledge you gain to use in your practice! Good luck!

About the Author

Amanda Body

Meet our blogger, . She grew up in Harlan, Kentucky and currently resides in Louisville KY. Amanda graduated from Valparaiso University in 2009 with a B.A. in Political Science and English. Most recently, she attended the University of Kentucky where she earned her Master's of Social Work degree. Amanda is currently pursuing her passion as a hospital social worker in Louisville Kentucky.