The Ethics of Obtaining Supervision or Switching Supervisors


Debra Crown, LPC-S, LCDC


Ending your graduate student years and stepping into a professional setting is a major life change.  And, with any major life change, it can be confusing and awkward.  You are probably concerned with the pressure to make ends meet, and may be tempted to go for the cheapest possible supervision in order to get the requirements met.  The problem with that is that the cheapest isn’t always in your best interest. 

Actually, that should be the secondary consideration.  First and foremost you need to gain the best

possible experience you can while you are in supervision.  It is the most pure mentorship you will

ever get.  Your site supervisor must adhere to company policy, look at the organization as a whole

and how you fit in and other considerations. Your personal supervisor is there to build you up,

boost your skills, help you deal with the stress involve, help hone your skills, and accompany you

as you go from fresh from grad school to full professional. This is one of the reasons I recommend

getting separate supervision from your place of employment.  It creates a safe atmosphere to

discuss all aspects of your internship experience.


All of that being said, the most important step you can take toward your professional goals is to obtain the best supervisor that is both a match for your personality and for the skills you want to learn.  Some post-grad students are very sure they want to pursue one type of therapy or client-population.  They should pursue a supervisor who best matches this interest.  I would suggest that during supervision other methods of therapy as an adjunct. Other post grad students are not as sure.  Seek a therapist who is well versed in a number of

evidence-based therapies. 


At the outset you should earnestly seek the best possible supervisor and employment site.  I encourage you to keep both for the duration of your provisional license period. This builds a reputation of reliability.  However, there are occasion when a change is necessary.  If that occurs you must submit a Texas State Board of Examiners of Licensed Professional Counselors

“Change Request.”  The form applies for either change of employment site or change of supervisor.  The form must have your supervisor’s signature on it.  It creates chaos and delay if you attempt to do this without the proper steps. 


If you need to make a change of supervisors, my advice to you is:


  • Discuss your concerns with your supervisor first.  Give your supervisor every opportunity to fully address your issue(s). Just as the Supervisor would seek remediation if for some reasons he or she has concerns about your candidacy for full licensure, so you should also give careful consideration before breaking-off this relationship.

  • Start the relationship earnestly.  Do not get “just any” supervisor to sign a Supervision Agreement Form with the intent of switching to a “better one” or “cheaper one” later.   That starts you off on a bad foot with your LPC Supervisor and with your Employer (Site Supervisor).  It doesn’t look professional and creates reasonable doubt about your personal ethical standards. Though you don’t know many people in the professional community—they know each other, as you build your professional experience you will soon learn that the community gets smaller and smaller as you practice. That is, your reputation will precede you as you gain more experience.  Make sure your reputation is sterling!

  • If it becomes very apparent that you should end the supervisory relationship advise your supervisor of your intent.  If you’ve signed a contract review the stipulations for termination of the relationship.  Negotiate how and when the steps to make the change will take place. 

  • Send the form “Intern Supervisor/Site Change Request” to the LPC board.

  • As with all professional relationships end things in the most respectful manner possible.


One last thought…

Some reasons a person might seek to terminate the supervisory relationship:

  • Moving to another city in Texas.  Certainly a move out of state will necessitate supervision termination as your supervisor is only licensed in Texas.

  • You changed employment sites and they typically do in-site supervision.

  • You’ve made a major change in therapeutic interest and your supervisor is not experienced in that type of therapeutic method or population. For instance you’ve been working with serious mental illness adults and have switched interest to working with very young children.  Prior to making this kind of change that would be an excellent topic in supervision.  Let your supervisor help you make that kind of decision and transition

______________________________________ Debra M. Crown, LPC-S, LCDC (c) ______________________________

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