5 tips for finding the right clinical supervisor

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

The task of finding a great clinical supervisor can be a daunting task. Many clinicians that have been through the supervision process has advice to share and what they think you should avoid in a supervisor.

I had an incredible clinical supervisor who taught me everything she knows which I contribute to my success today. After our formal clinical supervision ended, we developed a friendship, and she is still my mentor. I hope you have a similar experience as I did and to help you find the right fit, here are the best five tips for finding the right clinical supervisor.

Tip #1 Clinical style and personality

Look for a supervisor who has a clinical style and personality that you like. As you are starting out, you may not know your clinical style yet, but you can identify the approach you relate most with.

You can find out their clinical style by asking them about their experience, their thoughts on best clinical practices, and what type of clients they enjoy working with. Ask them about their counseling style and approach they use most often. Listen to what resonates with you and if you are turned off by anything they share.

Tip #2 Talk with their previous supervisees

In the decision process of choosing the right supervisor ask them if you can have the contact information of other supervisees, they worked with. Then ask two or three of these people about their experience, what did they like or not like.

This is a great way to find answers to your questions about the supervisor from others that have worked with them. I would recommend that you ask at least two different people in case one of them had a bad experience personally versus one that was caused by the supervisor.

Tip #3 Make sure they have time for a new supervisee

It may sound silly to think that you have to ensure that the supervisor has time to see you, but don’t overlook this crucial tip. I have seen clinical supervisors take on many supervisees at once then not be able to provide time to meet their needs for licensure.

Ask the potential supervisor how many people they are currently working with. Also, ask about the typical hours they offer for supervision. For example, if they can only see you on Tuesdays from 2:00p-3:00p and you are working during that time, it probably won’t work. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you need including late day or evening hours that may better fit with your schedule.

Tip #4 Cost of supervision

Finances can be stressful especially when you aren’t licensed as a clinician and trying to gain supervision hours. The cost of supervision differs by geographical region, experience, and other factors.

Ask about the cost of each supervision meeting and the ability to negotiate a different rate. For example, if they charge $100 for each session, ask if they would consider charging $75 if you pay a month at a time. That way they would receive a lump sum versus payment at each session. They may be inclined to give you a deal since you are willing to give that amount of payment at once.

Tip #5 Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Finding the right clinical supervisor can be stressful and may cause you to overthink the process. Don’t make it harder than it is. This is just one part of your clinical career. If your supervisor isn’t fantastic, so what, you will learn from others as you continue your experience.

Don’t get stuck and not be able to move forward if you have a negative experience. Learn what you can from it and seek out other clinicians in your network for support. Join a local clinical association or meet up group. There is support around you but you have to be the one to reach out.

You will make the best decision for you in choosing a clinical supervisor. Each of these five tips can help you through the process, but at the end of the day, pick the supervisor that feels like the best fit. Keep moving forward, and this part of your beginning career will fly by before you realize it.

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