Choosing a Supervisor
Dr. Sara Sue Schaeffer
Choosing a supervisor is a lot like choosing a therapist. Research shows that the most important factor in the success of therapy is the therapeutic relationship itself. The supervisory relationship is just as important to the success of supervision. A supervisee seeking to meet LPC licensure requirements commits to spend two years with a supervisor who is a LPC. That supervisor becomes an important mentor and teacher in the career of the supervisee. In choosing a supervisor, a supervisee needs to consider both the character and characteristics of the potential supervisor as well as what is being offered in the supervisory experience.
Supervisors must be people with whom supervisees can relate well. They need to have good counseling skills themselves which include well-developed listening skills and the ability to both empathize and provide constructive and supportive appraisal. They need to have had several years experience in counseling. They must be effective teachers. Their ethics must be above reproach as they are setting the example for the newest members of the profession. They must be accessible to supervisees to respond to questions, issues and crises in a timely manner. Effective supervisors are knowledgeable about the practice and professionalism of counseling. They understand the counselor licensure law, scope of practice, and requirements for supervision. Beginning in January of 2005, they must have had training in supervision.
A well-developed and comprehensive supervisory experience will allow the supervisee to review cases and related issues and to receive feedback from the supervisor as well as fellow supervisees. The ability to network with and learn from fellow supervisees is an important aspect of a good supervisory experience. Because supervision is an extension of the training program, it must include learning experiences which fill in the gaps between the theoretical world of the classroom and the practical world of the therapy office. Such learning experiences may include seminars presented by the supervisor, other professionals, and fellow supervisees, sharing of conference and learning experiences apart from the supervision, and reading and sharing of books and journal articles.