3 Considerations to Have Before Dedicating Yourself to a Supervisee
By Natalie Thomas
Searching for a clinical supervisor in counseling or social work can seem like a daunting task. There are many articles and resources that can assist supervisees on what they should look for and questions to ask to aid in their search. However, there’s not much guidance on what we as clinical supervisors should consider when committing ourselves to a supervisee. In this article I will discuss the top three considerations I have when talking to a new potential supervisee to determine if we will be a good fit.
Consider the Personality of a Supervisee
Accepting to work with a supervisee as a clinical supervisor is similar to accepting a new client as a therapist. Having introductory consultation calls are so important so you can get a sense of personal connection, instead of just communicating through email or text. Being able to ask questions and see more of their personality is important to find out if you want to work with someone.
Remember when committing to work with a supervisee you are committing to be their supervisor for possibly the duration of two years or even longer. Making sure you enjoy meeting with them and feeling a good connection is vital. I enjoy working with supervisees that have a sense of humor, are open to feedback, and are willing to take suggestions and chances to grow.
Some questions to ask around personality are: “How do you like to receive feedback? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?”
Knowing A Supervisee’s Clinical Interests is Important
As therapists, counselors and social workers, we all enter the profession with varying interests, ideas of where we want to grow, and we eventually specialize in a particular population or modality. We begin to expand our knowledge with professional education to determine if we really like those interests so that we can become more specialized and enjoy our work even more.
Working and supporting a supervisee who has very different clinical interests or specialties, theoretical orientations, and client populations than you can be difficult to relate to and provide supervision.
For example, let’s say you dedicated your time to specialize in working with adolescents and families who experienced trauma. Then you are outreached by a supervisee who is looking for a supervisor who works with older adults in a hospice setting. It doesn’t feel appropriate to take them on as supervisee since you have no background experience in that setting and with that population.
Some questions to ask around background are, “Tell me more about your clinical interests and experience providing mental health services? How do you feel our interests will mesh in working together in supervision?”
What is the Supervisee’s Motivation for Clinical Supervision?
Motivation is probably the most important aspect in a great supervision fit. Supervisees that are motivated to learn, grow, and expand their knowledge by taking suggestions and chances is what makes this process so rewarding. You can learn more after going through the prior steps of having an initial consultation to gauge personality and ensure that you are able to support the supervisee by having similar clinical interests.
This part of the initial phone conversation is where you can really find out what they want from supervision and what they are excited to learn about. If we ask more inquiring questions and receive responses that are unenthusiastic or lack any thought, I would begin to wonder if the supervisee is simply just wanting a supervisor to sign off on their hours.
I am definitely not interested in a supervision relationship like that as a clinical supervisor. Some questions to ask around motivation are, “What are you most excited to learn about/ practice during our supervision time together? How do you feel that I can best support your growth as a clinician?”
As you read this article I’m guessing you had more considerations come to mind that you may want to incorporate before accepting a new supervisee. Great! These are just three considerations that are my go-to to gauge personality, clinical interests, and motivation. Think about what is important to you before dedicating yourself to supervise a new clinician.
How we can help
If you are looking for further clinical consultation, check out Natalie Thomas, one of our amazing clinical supervisors.
Sign up for our Burnout Prevention Check-List Email Series. You can also sign up for a free phone consultation to discuss options and learn more about us!
Natalie Thomas is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and Clinical Supervisor for Firelight Supervision. She provides group and individual clinical supervision for provisionally licensed counselors and social workers, along with clinical consultation for independently licensed therapists. Natalie enjoys supporting therapists develop new skills and find their niche.