What Not To Do When Seeking Supervision:
Top Reasons A Supervisor May Pass You By
(c) Debra Crown, LPC-S, LCDC
The top reasons a supervisor may decline to go forward with providing supervision to you can be summed up as:
Over Focus on Cost without Regard to Benefit
Right around graduation I am often busy with telephone calls and emails asking only one question of me, “How much do you charge for supervision?” I find this in-your-face style disconcerting. I get the impression that the intern who does it is only concerned with cost and minimally getting by least amount of effort as possible. It’s an awful way to start a professional mentorship. You wouldn’t walk into a career interview and immediately ask, “How much are you going to pay me?” So, why do that with the supervisor who has the potential to have one of the strongest influence on your professional development? It also seems to disregard the supervisor’s knowledge, skill and expertise. A much better approach is to identify what you desire out of supervision and interview the supervisor to see if there is a match between his or her skills and the skills you are seeking. Then decide if this is a good fit for you.
Sometimes I get the impression that many recent grads call as many supervisors as they can, and whoever calls back first or is the cheapest is the one that graduate goes with. If you don’t give the supervisor a reasonable amount of time to call you back—remember the supervisor is a busy professional—you are showing disregard for the supervisor’s time and schedule.
It’s really awesome to find out you have conquered all of the demands place on you to finally be declared a Master of your field (i.e., Master of Arts, Master of Science). The problem is, that you have indeed met criteria for graduation in the topics put to you in your graduate courses of study, however you have not mastered the next level—professional level practice. Grad school doesn’t teach you business and marketing, insurance, basics of medications your patients take, and many other issues that come up in real-world practice.
There is a great deal of risk in supervision for the supervisor. We do our best to screen for highly ethical, sincere and honest interns to mitigate the risk. Though you have to carry liability insurance the risk largely falls on the supervisor. That means if there is a problem that comes up with your counseling it will have an impact on the supervisor. Supervision is a team effort, and many times the supervisor will never see or meet your clients, or know the exact details of your interaction with the clients. So it is a trust relationship between supervisor and supervisee. I have to trust that you will bring all issues to supervision—good and bad so that we can learn from it, create a learning experience from that, and ultimately honor your client’s needs as the top priority over all.
As a supervisor I need to trust that you will bring any doubts to the table. We will work together to hone your skills and that means bringing up issues or warnings that your client (s) is not responding well to your skills.
Inappropriate or unprofessional pictures on social media can bring questions in the mind of your supervisor. I don’t mean don’t be yourself, I mean represent yourself as you would in the workplace setting. Someone who looks serious about their job is more likely to win a more serious look into supervision. A positive impression will be created by a sincere interest focused on the client’s benefit and an earnest desire to hone your skills.
[NOTE: Since this article was written you may now have two concurrent supervisors.] Sometimes I am approached by a potential supervisee who already has an application in for their provisional license, or is already under supervision of another supervisor. In both cases it is a conflict of interest for one supervisor to agree to supervise you if you have already entered into a relationship with another supervisor. Things happen, and promised employment may fall through, or other issues, but honor your agreements to the best of your ability. If you have already attempted to make things work with your supervisor, and it doesn’t seem to fit your needs that can be considered. Just be aware that you must end one supervision relationship before starting another—that requires formal notification to the state board. This must occur before a new supervisor can submit a new Supervisory Agreement Form to the licensing board.
©Debra M. Crown, LPC-S, LCDC