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Why Ongoing Supervision After Independent Licensure is Important

The requirements for obtaining licensure as a mental health professional can be overwhelming. The process involves undergraduate and graduate school, post-graduate clinical hours, supervision hours, and passing the required exam to obtain licensure.

Supervision hours involve working directly with an already-licensed therapist who will review your treatment methods and cases. Many states require thousands of hours of clinical supervision. It is only after these hours are complete that you can apply for licensure.

After licensure you are on your own, right? While this can be the case, ongoing supervision is highly recommended for mental health professionals.

What is clinical supervision for?

Starting out as a mental health professional is a daunting task. The well-being of your clients is in your hands, and you want to do everything you can to provide them with quality treatment while still protecting their interests. In the beginning stages of seeing clients, clinical supervision is especially important. Working with someone who is already experienced in seeing clients will give you great insight into providing the best treatment possible.

The schooling you completed will prepare you for many challenges, but facing these challenges head-on can be intimidating. Some of these initial challenges can include:

  1. Establishing a professional identity as a therapist

  2. Getting through to clients who will not open up to you

  3. Communicating effectively with clients who are always crying or agitated

  4. Overcoming your insecurities and doubts

  5. Establishing confidence in your perspectives

  6. Monitoring progress with clients

  7. Establishing a healthy relationship with clients

  8. Dealing with your own mental health problems

  9. Overcoming biases

  10. Establishing confidence as a new professional

A supervisor will guide you through these obstacles and provide you with feedback as someone who has faced the same challenges. They will also show you how to seek advice about treatment for specific clients without breaking the rules of confidentiality. Supervisors can also tell you when breaking confidentiality is okay for situations where you or a client may be in danger.

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Why continue supervision?

Many people enter the professional world of mental health care because they have a desire to help others. Sometimes the desire and ongoing commitment to help others can result in a “wounded healer.” Mental health professionals often neglect their own mental wellbeing and avoid asking for help when they need it.

Ongoing supervision after licensure can address many of the issues mental health professionals experience after they have started counseling independently. Colleagues can provide fresh insight into old problems and provide a perspective that is unique to the world of counseling. However, even the most experienced mental health professionals will be thrown curveballs, and this is why it is important to continue seeking advice from colleagues who understand the challenges you face.

Supervision also includes more than consulting with other, more experienced mental health professionals. Supervision includes self-supervision. Reevaluating your skills and continuing to learn is extremely important in growing as a mental health professional.

Self-Supervision

  1. Care for yourself: It can be easy to become that “wounded healer” who forgets about their own self-interest. You witness a lot of suffering in your profession and it can be easy to neglect your own mental health.

  2. Continue learning: The ever-changing world presents clients with new challenges. Advancements in technology have created struggles that did not exist twenty, ten, or even a few years ago.

  3. Address burnout: Helping people as a professional can be incredibly rewarding, but everyone experiences burnout. Set boundaries for yourself between your work-life balance and remember to engage in activities outside of work that you find enjoyable.

There is always more to learn—no matter your profession. Continuing to sharpen your skills as a mental health professional does not end after your supervision hours are complete. Recognizing when to ask to help is an important skill we teach our clients, and this should be extended to ourselves. If you would like more information, please contact me or learn more about my approach to supervision on this website.

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