I have a friend that I’ve only met online who is a Board Certified Music Therapist. She is also a professional singer, songwriter, musician, and blogger. Her name is Roia Rafayen and here is a comment she left recently in response to a previous post I had written about clinical supervision .
Tamara, thanks for your post. As always, you boil everything down very nicely and clearly. I do have a few questions, though regarding clinical supervision for counselors (since I’m not one). First, I presume it’s required. Second, is it only required if one is working toward licensure? Because then I can see that there would be an evaluation component to it.
Is it different when it’s simply professional clinical supervision for ongoing growth and insight as a counselor? Just trying to figure out how it all differs from music therapy. I know we’ve had various “conversations” about this before, but there are still elements that seem to be very different in our professions. Maybe that’s why you folks have had an easier time of getting licensure.”
Roia is picking up on the differences in the way that some of the mental health disciplines use the term “supervision” so this seems like a good day to address this issue.
First of all, I’m chuckling at having “an easier time of getting licensed.” Roia, you just might have a few counselors here taking you to task, of course, because we don’t think it’s so easy at all. But, you are right in picking up on the difference in the way that some mental health disciplines use the term “supervision.” I think of these as cultural differences.
State by State, Discipline by Discipline
As far as I know, all licensed mental health professionals in the United States of America are required to go through a period of clinical (as opposed to administrative) supervision in order to satisfy conditions for licensure. Each state determines what the specific requirements for licensure are for each discipline and they may vary considerably from state to state and discipline to discipline. For example, although licensed social workers and professional counselors require at least a Master’s Degree in a specific discipline, licensed psychologists require a Doctoral Degree. Individual states also dictate which graduate schools provide sufficient training (typically based on the type of accreditation a university has) to satisfy licensing requirements.
Additionally, to become a licensed professional counselor / licensed clinical social worker / licensed psychologist / etc. , each state also requires face-to-face clinical experience and clinical supervision. For example, to become licensed as a professional counselor, the State of Colorado requires 2000 hours of clinical counseling and 100 hours of clinical supervision; the State of Texas requires 3000 hours of experience with at least 1/2 of that being direct contact with clients while under supervision. (It’s worth noting that in a society as mobile as that in the USA, these differences in requirements can play havoc with a mental health professional-in-training trying to get licensed.)
Clinical supervision for these disciplines implies a hierarchical relationship with one of the components being evaluative. While under clinical supervision, the supervisee is legally and ethically required to comply with the supervisor’s directives. And, the supervisor is legally and ethically responsible for everything that takes place between the counselor-in-training and the client. It is a significant responsibility, commitment of time, and potential liability for any supervisor.
The evaluative component is included because the purpose of clinical supervision is to both support the counselor-in-training’s professional development and also to protect the public from incompetence. At the end of supervision, the supervisor must attest to the competence of the counselor-in-training. That same supervisor is obligated to note whether this individual is actually ready to function independently as a professional counselor. The same is true for licensed social workers, licensed psychologists, and licensed addictions professionals.
Once a professional license is obtained, the standards of clinical practice, professional codes of ethics, and / or best practices in risk management dictate that professional counselors, social workers, and psychologists are to engage in peer or professional consultation on a regular basis (rather than clinical supervision.) Like clinical supervision, the purpose of professional consultation is to continue professional growth and development as well as provide access to collegial input on specific cases. However, while the difference between clinical supervision and professional consultation may appear at first glance to be simply one of semantics, those within these disciplines recognize “consultation” to indicate a collegial relationship with no evaluative component and no obligation to comply.
That’s the difference – It’s a difference in connotation that is unique to some of the mental health disciplines. And, until I met you, Roia, and we started our dialogue about this topic, I, too, made certain assumptions about those terms based on the culture of professional counseling. I assumed that one was under supervision, s/he was either in training or under the scrutiny of a licensing board for some type of corrective action!
Thanks to you, I’ve done a bit more research and have reigned in some of my assumptions. And, I’m hoping that some of you reading this post can join the conversation and expand the discussion.