Ten Questions to Ask When You Are Debating Consultation
By Shannon Heers
If you’re a therapist, social worker or mental health counselor, you may be considering obtaining clinical consultation for your professional development. And if this is something you’ve never done before, you might be overwhelmed or confused on how to get started! Sometimes you may not even know what questions you have.
Clinical consultation is a term used for independently licensed counselors, therapists and social workers. It is common, and encouraged, to get ongoing clinical consultation for your work in the counseling field, especially if you are in private practice. As you are researching and interviewing potential clinical consultants, here is a handy list of 10 questions you can ask yourself and any candidates for a clinical consultant that you find.
- What is your experience and training in providing clinical consultation/supervision?
You always want to ask about prior experience and training in not just clinical work, but in providing clinical consultation to other clinicians like yourself.
- Do you offer individual and/or group clinical consultation?
It’s nice to have options of either or both individual or group clinical consultation. With individual consultation, you can more quickly develop the supervisory relationship and delve deeper into your cases. Group consultation offers more learning opportunities from others who have different styles, modalities and populations, along with connections with others in the community.
- What are your clinical specializations, trainings and certifications?
Make sure that your clinical consultant has more knowledge and experience than you do in the areas you’re wanting clinical consultation. Trainings and certifications will help you figure this out, but there is no substitute for experience.
- How do you describe your clinical consultation/supervision style?
Style and personality fit between yourself and your clinical consultant is very important. If you are more thoughtful and introverted and need someone to draw out your answers, working with a consultant that just tells you things might not be a good experience for you.
- Have you worked with the population I’m working with, or do you have transferable knowledge?
With so many different populations to treat, your clinical consultant may not have the exact same experience that you’ve had. But if they have worked with a similar population or in similar systems, that may be enough to competently supervise you.
- What theoretical orientations/modalities do you practice from?
If you are a psychodynamic therapist, you probably don’t want to work with a brief, solution-focused clinical consultant. Make sure that the orientations you are drawn to, your consultant is proficient in.
- How frequently would we meet?
This may be more a question for yourself. How many hours per week/month are you working, and what level of support do you think you need? Likely, if you’re fully licensed, you don’t need weekly clinical consultation anymore. But perhaps once a month individual and once a month group consultation is adequate.
- Do you have any references that you can provide of other clinicians that you’ve worked with?
It’s always nice to talk to other clinicians who have worked with this particular supervisor. They may tell you more details and from a clinician standpoint about what it’s like to work with the clinical consultant.
- What is the cost, and do you offer anything extra that is included in the cost?
If you’re seeking a trained and experienced clinical consultant, you will likely have to pay a higher price for that. Don’t make a decision about who to work with solely based on cost, but make sure you can afford ongoing clinical consultation as that is when it becomes the most effective.
- Do our schedules line up so that we can meet regularly at a time that works for me?
You can find the best clinical consultant around, but if they are too busy to find a time to meet with you, it’s just not going to work. Make sure that you can meet with them at a time that works for both of you. You also need to decide if you want to meet virtually or in-person.
While these 10 questions aren’t the only ones you might want to ask yourself and/or a potential clinical consultant, I hope they can get you started. You always want to make sure to interview your clinical consultant prior to meeting with them as you’re investing a lot of time and money into your professional development and growth.
If you’re interested in interviewing any of our clinical consultants, here is the link to read their bios and schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation!