For Therapists

What Makes A Good Clinical Supervisor

Qualities to Look for When Hiring a Supervisor

Supervision is a crucial part of any new therapist’s journey.  The goals of supervision are not only to discuss protocols and paperwork but more importantly to help develop your skills and confidence.  Here’s what to look for when you want to find a good supervisor!

A good supervisor will take time to listen to your concerns

Oftentimes, therapists work hard to put aside their own feelings during sessions. They push down their own reactions. And this is usually wise (see countertransference, below). But in order to be able to have a clear concept of a case, those thoughts and immediate gut reactions NEED to be explored. A large part of supervision is having a weekly time that you to express your opinions and reactions in a safe space. 

A good supervisor will makes a space for those reactions to heard and guided. This allows you to build trust in your own reactions and to adjust any prejudices or blindspots. Being able to verbally express your impressions and then get feedback on areas where a different point of view or a different lens could be used will be one of the largest contributors to your growth as a therapist.


A good supervisor will help explore counter-transference

Countertransference is when a therapist transfers their own emotions onto a client. It is a large hurdle for all therapists no matter where they are in their career.  While beginning out in your career, it is crucial for you to learn to identify your own countertransference. And how to address it. 

A good supervisor will be able to point out if/when is occurring.  Then, together you will be able to explore the implications of what that countertransference could mean for your client’s outcomes. You will learn strategies to address it. 

Even the most experienced therapists have a hard time identifying countertransference. This why it’s crucial to the growth of a therapist to have a good set of eyes on the case.


A good supervisor will develop your problem solving skills

Problem solving skills are an essential part of being a therapist. Unfortunately is often overlooked in supervision. You should guided to making your own decisions in supervision. Not just handed a solution right away. 

The time and space to learn how to think outside the box while being careful to stay within the lines of ethics is essential.  A good supervisor will encourage you to think through solutions with them. Then you can come to a decision together as you strengthen the skill.


A good supervisor will encourage your development

As you work with a supervisor, they should be providing you insight about what areas you need more continued learning experiences.  A good supervisor will encourage you to continue to seek specific trainings for the needs and opportunities that you’ve identified together. This can come in the form of formal trainings. Or it could be your own research in areas that you either need more support in or that you could excel in based on your style. 


A good supervisor will be consistent

My biggest pet peeve is when supervisors reschedule supervision sessions because it seems to be the least important meeting in the week and can be easily moved.  In the world of therapy it is often difficult to make time for supervision on a consistent basis.  A good supervisor will create a consistent time where there are minimal distractions so that the hour can be fully designated to your growth as a therapist. 

On the spot supervision is also helpful. Alhough it is important that those times do not take away from, or count as, an hour of supervision that is specific towards your growth.

When a supervisor is not available for more than a week at a time, another supervisor should be appointed to keep your support consistent.  


A good supervisor will have multiple experiences

Supervisors will have a variety of experiences that can be useful for your growth.  Depending on what your goal for supervision is, it is important to look at what your supervisor is able to offer. 

If your goal is to explore therapy and to become a well rounded therapist in the field, look for a therapist who provides advice from a broad range of experiences.  This will provide a wider base for your growth. 

If you have a clear vision of where you want your therapy journey to take you, then find a supervisor with a deep knowledge of that area.  That will benefit you in the long run. 


A good supervisor will discuss more than just your cases

Case review is important and necessary for supervision. But it should not be the entire extent of supervision.  Supervision should explore the many different facets of therapy.  This would include but not limited to:

  • ethics
  • self-care
  • career development
  • identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • identifying your style as a therapist
  • risk management
  • developing case conceptualizations across theroies

Treatment planning is beneficial in your grasp of clients but should not be where supervision ends. As a therapist, you will always be working on yourself as you help others and this takes time and attention to make happen.  Using your supervision hour to assist in the fullest extend of process will be crucial to the development of your whole self in this field.

Annie can be YOUR good supervisor!

Annie Bertran, LCSW-C provides good excellent supervision for new therapists in the Maryland area! She specialized in working with therapists in high-risk environments. Her group supervision counts towards Maryland state licensure requirements for LMSWs or LGPCs. Contact us to sign up for Group Supervision!

About The Author


Annie Bertran, LCSW-C is a licensed certified social worker-clinical and Therapist at Montgomery County Counseling Center in Rockville, MD. Annie obtained Bachelor’s degree in Social Work with a minor in Psychology from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She then went on to earn her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Annie has extensive training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). She has worked across several settings over the past decade and has extensive experience with adolescents and young people transitioning into adulthood. She also provides clinical supervision for LMSWs and LGPCs.


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