Find a Stellar LPC Supervisor!

The Supervisor Qualities

that make for a Great

Supervision Experience:

By: Debra Crown, LPC-S

One of the greatest opportunities you have on your path toward getting your LPC license is to select your own supervisor. This is your chance to find a mentor who really fits you and direct you toward optimal growth during the 18 months you are under supervision. Of course meeting person-to-person is imperative. This person will be your greatest influence to date toward your professional development. How can you make sure you get the best possible mentor? There are characteristics to look for (listed below). One caveat, you also have to have many of these same characteristics in order to create the best possible growth experience. 

Open. Talks openly with you regarding their practice, their experiences, things that worked and things that did not. Open in talking with you about your preferences, interests and desired outcomes from your supervision experience. Open to your shifts in interest as you begin to grow in your skills. Openness compliments the characteristic of flexibility.


Flexibility.  Your supervisor needs to be both flexible in certain ways—so they can address all of the different issues that come up with client presentations, but also must follow the board rules for tasks that must be completed within the supervision time frame.  The board clearly outlines how to accept direct and indirect hours and tasks that must be completed. Yet, there is substantial room for flexibility in the method and activities in supervision. All activity must be ancillary to your client’s needs and for their benefit. 


Feedback.  How are you going to know how well you are doing in your mentors’ opinion? Your supervisor is required to have regular reviews, how those are handled has a lot to do with personal style. I like to let my interns assess themselves on specific qualities, and then we review it together. Then we incorporate that information into our next few supervision conferences.


Clear. Establish clear role requirements—both yours and your supervisors roles, duties and responsibilities. 


Delegates Control.  Requires that you take the front seat of your practice, your skill development and your requirements as a professional counselor.  You diagnosis your client after consideration of differentials, you develop your treatment planning, and you implement the treatment planning.  It is imperative that your supervisor take both a supportive role to what you are doing, and yet, also interrupt, guide, teach, and redirect if that is in the best interest of your client.


Trust and Really Listens to You. You have developed respect for your supervisor’s knowledge, but also know that your supervisor really cares about you, your developing goals and skills and is willing to help you meet those goals. 

Willing to be Influenced by You.  Your supervisor has told you in word and action that they are willing to shift direction as you need them to, given the client’s needs.  I tell my interns that if they are unhappy with the way supervision is going, or are not getting what they want or are interested in while in supervision to bring it up and adjustments or negotiations can be made.  if you have developed an interest in a certain area that you want to explore in treating your clients your supervisor should be supportive, helpful, and hopefully informed.


Dilemmas and Problem Solving. Your supervisor is willing to help solve dilemmas that come up as a course of interaction with the public. You want a supervisor who is knowledgeable about ethical dilemma solving.


Affirming.  Is more apt to use affirmation than correction with you. Nobody likes to have their faults pointed out, yet it is essential for growth to know what you need to improve and to be guided in newly discovered strengths. When your supervisor uses affirmation-correction or guidance-and new affirmation as you attempt new skills you will grow professionally.


Supportive.  Considers your best interest—your mentor should really be invested in your growth as a professional.  It is a unusual relationship, in that at the beginning of your supervision you must be much more influenced by your supervisor.  By the end of your supervision it is becoming a more peer-to-peer (fully licensed professional) relationship, yet you must still follow the guidelines of being under their supervision as fully as if you had just started.  Not only that, but your supervisor should also care about and bring up how you are personally feeling about your supervision experience, how you are affected by the clients you see, and using the same skills for self care as you counsel your clients to use.


Has Integrity. Follows Board Standards—there are specifically outlined standards for the supervisor to follow, and your supervisor already follows the rules and regulations without you having to stress whether all the activities and requirements of supervision have been met. Yes, you do want to review all of the ethics—because that is required for your license. Same goes for regular skills reviews. 

For really great supervision I hope you'll reach out to me for an interview.  Let's talk about each other's strengths, the qualities in this article and how we can best help you meet your ultimate goal--being qualified and ready for your full LPC license. The qualities in this article are based on my many years as a supervisor and whatI have found really works in the relationship.  For more information check out my website