It’s hard to overstate the importance of quality supervision when you’re a new therapist accruing hours toward independent licensure.
One of the most impactful benefits of starting my private practice immediately after graduating was that I was required to have LOTS of supervision. For art therapy, I needed to meet with my supervisor 1 hr for every 10 hrs I saw clients. For mental health counseling, I needed to meet with my supervisor (separate from my art therapy supervisor) 1 hour for every 20 hrs I saw clients. For over a year, I received 3 hrs of supervision a week. I would not have invested in that level of supervision of my own volition. It’s a lot.
I’m glad it was required though, because I was navigating A LOT as a new therapist and new business owner.
We worked on MANY topics together:
Setting my therapy fee
Making legal and clear paperwork
Refining my intake process
Talking about ethical approaches to marketing
Identifying gaps in my graduate education and addressing them
Finding my own emotional/mental balance
Refining my specialities/niche
Broadening my art therapy skill sets
These were all topics in addition to the topics typically associated with supervision:
Navigating client crises
Properly handling mandatory reporting
One of the other MASSIVE benefits of being in supervision for private practice was that my supervisor was not my boss. I paid my supervisors to supervise me in my business. This meant that I did not have to worry about the power differential inherent in boss/employee and the safety of my job given what I did or did not share.
It meant I could be completely vulnerable and transparent without fear. I was able to share when I was exhausted. I was able to share when I made mistakes. I was able to talk about the things in my business structure that impacted the quality of my therapeutic work (I cannot imagine how uncomfortable that would be if my supervisor was the one who had designed the business structure).
It meant my supervisory relationships could be focused on what really matters:
Genuine care from human to human
Nurturance of growth
Learning from missteps and mistakes
Having open, vulnerable conversations
All of this deeply matters because it models what we as therapists are trying to provide our clients. It all influences each other.
I also had the added benefit of two supervisors. My mental health supervisor was located in Tucson. She was my go-to person for crises and navigating sticky client issues.
My art therapy supervisor lived out of state and was selected based on our personality fit, academic history together (she was a previous professor of mine), and mutual love of art therapy.
I wrote an entire essay about all of the ways she provided great supervision, but in short, our supervision time together focused on:
My well-being as a therapist
Centering art therapy in my practice more (instead of just talk therapy)
Discussing art therapy techniques and approaches with clients
Exploring other creative endeavors (such as my own art making or other creative project ideas for clients)
Review my studio design and storage practices (such as how to properly store and/or display client artwork)
I understand my experience with supervision is unique in multiple ways. I had TWO supervisors. I also had supervision while starting a private practice.
I understand that this will not be the case for every therapist. What I hope in sharing this is to inspire current supervisees to find supervision that is aligned with their values and vision and to inspire supervisors to provide supervision that can be transformative.