You’ve done it! After years of study, first as an undergrad and then in your Master’s program, after incurring debt and/or holding down a job at the same time, and especially after those demanding internships, you…are…ready! And if you have any sense, you’re also a little overwhelmed.
Since 2009, I’ve supervised LPC and LCSW candidates, walking them from the shaky first days to confident independent practitioners. As you will discover, selecting the right supervisor for you will color these first crucial years. Therefore, what follows is as much a guide designed to help you know what to look for as it is a description of what our relationship would look like, and whether I’m the right fit for you.
As a supervisor for the Affordable Counseling Program for the last three years, I’ve explored with recent intern graduates what their first few post-grad days are like. Like you, they’re exhausted! If they can at all afford it, they take a break…and then ask themselves, agency or private practice?
While agency work is far from lucrative, there are two significant benefits. The first is that, if you have a burning interest in, say, eating disorders or addiction, a good agency can give you a solid treatment protocol upon which you can build and for which you can discern the best trainings to take. The second is that most agencies provide supervision, which you will need on a regular basis in order to earn that precious “L.”
Supervision is a significant expense, and one which schools rarely warn you about prior to graduation. Many supervisors charge their hourly rate. Although DORA allows anyone with two or more years of post licensure experience to be a supervisor, you would be wise to choose someone with significantly more experience and a proven track record in running a successful practice both financially and therapeutically. Alas, we also charge more than those just starting out!
I mitigate this by providing both a small group and individual supervision, and also stagger my fees based on the number of client hours you do in a week. Thus, as you’re beginning, you can spend most of your supervision in group (with others in the same terrified boat!) and, once a month, be responsible for a lower individual supervision fee. As your practice grows, I will expect the balance to shift from group to individual, and the frequency of supervision hours to increase…and at this point, you’ll be more able to afford the higher fee. The group fee ranges from $40-60, and the individual, from $70-100.
What do you want in a supervisor? If you want to work with children, look for that as a primary focus of your supervisors’ practice. If you’re drawn to brief, highly structured therapy, you want someone who has a style reflective of that. My mindfulness approach encourages greater self-awareness, while my somatically-based trauma practice is particularly valuable to those who also wish to serve this difficult and rewarding population.
Unless you have a successful past history running your own business, you’ll also need some TLC concerning how to get the word out there that you’re available. Psychology Today was once a wonderful site for that, but everyone is on there now, and you’ll be lost in the vast field of recent, hungry graduates. Does SEO mean anything to you? Google Adwords? Linkdin? Does the idea of blogging, including video blogging, terrify or appeal? Find a supervisor who has embraced the 21st century, and can guide you in building a solvent and ethical practice. Often our websites reflect just how comfortable we are with social media.
I’m proud of my supervisees, and accept only a few at a time to ensure greater attention. If you’re interested in exploring this further with me, feel free to contact me for an initial free consultation. Regardless of which route you take, kudos to you for agreeing to be part of the solution. You are more valuable than you know.
If you would like to talk to me about Clinical Supervision, please click here to go to my contact page.