Most, if not all, states require that after graduating counselors complete an internship before becoming licensed. This means that counselors must be under supervision when they are treating clients. Usually this consists of a one-hour meeting each week with your supervisor, but requirements vary by state.
What is a counseling supervisor? It is an experienced counselor who has completed training in counseling supervision. Requirements vary by state, but as an example the state of Florida requires 5 years of experience post-licensure, and a special training course.
A counseling supervisor provides consultation to new therapists. They answer questions, provide guidance and support. They are ultimately responsible for the well-being of their supervisee’s clients, and so many supervisors will require taped counseling sessions or detailed case notes to ensure the counselor is on the right track. Counseling supervisors help with case conceptualization, methods, or specific interventions by asking questions and/or making suggestions. They also provide support for when things get tough. They help new counselors cope with counter-transference and heavy emotional issues that clients may present. As experienced professionals, they also help new counselors develop a professional identity.
Because this role is so important, it is essential that you find a good supervisor. Not only someone who is qualified, but someone who really cares about you and your clients, and isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions. And, just like a counseling relationship, it is also imperative that you have a good, trusting relationship with your supervisor. If you feel like you can’t tell him or her certain things, it is time to move on. Yes, you can change supervisors whenever you like. Your professional development is too important to worry about hurting someone’s feelings.
Yours in the Joy of Knowledge,