15 Questions to Ask When Seeking a Clinical Supervisor in Mental Health

questions-to-ask-when-seeking-a-clinical-supervisor-in-mental-healthThis time of year, many new graduates are seeking sites and supervisors for their clinical internships towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor and other related fields. This part of the overall process can be very stressful, as many new graduates are weighing their options.

Depending on where one plans to practice, those options will vary. Some sites have onsite clinical supervisors, meaning their board-approved supervisor works within the same building or company where the intern will practice. Other sites, especially volunteer and non-profit sites, will not provide a supervisor, and the intern must choose from supervisors in their area to meet with weekly.

Carefully choosing your supervisor is an important first step toward earning your clinical hours for several reasons: First, you will be working closely with this individual for many months, and possibly years. Second, your supervisor will guide you and mentor you through difficult and often scary situations. And finally, during this time you will learn how to conduct yourself as a professional, including how to determine ethical boundaries and best practices. You want a supervisor who can confidently offer guidance in these important areas. Below are helpful questions to ask when choosing your supervisor.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What qualifications am I seeking in a supervisor? This includes the type of license, years of experience, and areas of expertise.
  2. How much contact do I want/need with my supervisor? If you are brand new to the clinical work you will be doing, or if  you won’t be working closely with other clinicians, you may want a supervisor who is accessible for consultations during times outside of your regular supervision meeting.
  3. What type of individuals do I learn the best from and feel comfortable with? What are the characteristics of these individuals?
  4. What are the logistical requirements of a supervisor, or site, that am I looking for? These include important details, such as location, clinical setting, available supervision times, supervision fees, etc.
  5. What are my professional goals, such as the population and setting I would like to work with, writing and research aspirations, desired areas of specialization, and desired clinical setting (i.e., private practice, hospital, school)?

  5 Questions to Ask Potential Supervisors

  1. What population do you treat, and what are your areas of specialization in therapy?
  2. What days and times are you available for regular meetings, and are you available for consultations outside of our scheduled supervision meeting, such as when I have a question or emergency?
  3. How do you address concerns or needs for improvement in a supervisee?
  4. What theoretical model or approach do you apply in supervision?
  5. What characteristics are you seeking in a supervisee?

5 Questions to Ask When Narrowing Down Your Choices

  1. After viewing online profiles and meeting in person with potential supervisors, who did I feel most comfortable with and able to talk with openly about my experiences, questions, fears, etc.?
  2. Which office and clinical staff exhibited the most professionalism?
  3. Which supervisor most closely met the logistical requirements I determined above?
  4. Which supervisor can most closely guide me in achieving my professional goals, such as working with my desired population, diagnosis, and clinical setting?
  5. Was there a supervisor that stood out from the others in terms of organization, ethical decision-making, availability, etc., and how important are these characteristics to my decision?

I would love to hear from other supervisors or interns regarding your process in choosing a supervisor, and certainly additional questions to add.

Books for Students and Interns

Practicum and Internship: Textbook and Resource Guide for Counseling and Psychotherapy

Developing Your Theoretical Orientation in Counseling and Psychotherapy (3rd Edition) (Merrill Counseling)

Field Experience: Transitioning From Student to Professional (Counseling and Professional Identity)  

Books for Clinical Supervisors

Becoming an Effective Supervisor: A Workbook for Counselors and Psychotherapists

Essentials of Clinical Supervision (Essentials of Mental Health Practice)

Fundamentals of Clinical Supervision (5th Edition) (New 2013 Counseling Titles)

Clinical Supervision Activities for Increasing Competence and Self-Awareness

  • Edna O’Bryant

    Hello Kim,

    My name is Edna O’Bryant, I am a student at Lamar University. I am in my last semester where I am completing online classes to include counseling skills and the counseling practicum. I am seeking supervision for this semester Jan – Dec 2016.

    I live in Humble-Atascocita area but I work in Cleveland, Texas as an assistant principal. My experience includes the military (US Army Veteran), as well as, a prison guard for the State of Michigan Department of Corrections.

    Please contact me so we can further discuss the expectations for supervision.

    Thank you
    Edna O’Bryant

    Please respond to this email so that I know I have made contact with you. My hope is that we can discuss how you can assist me from my presence as a counseling student intern to a professional LPC.