What Is Clinical Supervision? - Definition, Models & Policy

Instructor: Quentin Shires

Quentin has taught psychology and other social science classes at the university level and is considered a doctoral colleague at Capella University.

In this lesson, learn what clinical supervision is and how it is used in different fields of study. Also discover the policies that oversee this process and the models used between supervisor and supervisee to make this experience successful.

What is Clinical Supervision?

Take a moment to think about your career goals and how you want to achieve them. If you are in the field of nursing, mental health counseling, or substance abuse counseling, chances are you will need to experience the process of clinical supervision. Clinical supervision is a process that enhances growth and increases skills in a given profession, while building a trusting relationship between a supervisor and a supervisee. It is important to know that the clinical supervisor is an experienced and licensed/credentialed professional that oversees a supervisee who is working towards their own professional licensing after completing educational and internship requirements.

Clinical supervision is a process that enhances growth and increases skills in a given profession, while building a trusting relationship between a supervisor and a supervisee.

Clinical Supervision and Your Career

Clinical supervision's ultimate goals are to ensure that the supervisee is using skills appropriately and properly handling a client caseload, all while being mentored by a seasoned professional. This leads to an increased skill set as well as improved outcomes of patient care. Clinical supervision can occur in a variety of careers.

Mental Health Counseling. In the field of mental health counseling, the supervisee has to work under their supervisor for a specific number of hours, meeting once a week to discuss client caseloads and forms of treatment. After the supervisee has completed all of the required hours of supervision, they can then take a test to become a licensed professional on their own.

Substance Abuse Counseling. Chemical dependency counselors or addiction therapists are not necessarily required to be licensed; however, they must be credentialed. During the credentialing process, supervisees must work one-on-one with a credentialed counselor so that they can discuss caseloads, as well as how to handle group therapy sessions and psychoeducation techniques. Substance abuse counselors will also be required to take a test in order to become credentialed themselves.

Nursing. The nursing field also uses clinical supervision to ensure that up and coming nurses are carrying through patient care policies and procedures appropriately. Clinical supervisors also help ensure that patients are protected in complex medical situations by providing their supervisees with direction, knowledge, and new skill sets.

Clinical Supervision Policies

There are different policies that must be followed throughout the supervisory relationship, which help to ensure that the supervision is carried out appropriately and ethically. Some policies may differ between different fields of study, and can also depend on the clinical supervisor's expertise in the field.

Documentation. When and for how long the supervisor and supervisee meet must be properly documented in order to demonstrate that the clinical supervision is being followed as per the instructions of the field of study. Also, each time that the parties meet, they must both sign a form that details how many counseling or patient care hours are being met, as well as what was discussed in each meeting.

Confidentiality. Confidentiality is at the forefront of the supervisor and supervisee relationship; therefore, it is essential that the supervisor keeps what was discussed confidential from all other parties. It is important to note that confidentiality protects patient information, as well as the supervisee's work that they are completing. This helps build trust in both the supervisee and supervisor's relationship.

Monitoring. The supervisor has to monitor the supervisee's work to ensure that it is ethical and that it meets that standards of the field. For example, during a typical supervision session, the supervisee will present the direction of treatment that they are taking their client through and will then obtain feedback from the supervisor. The supervisor can then tweak the treatment if they feel it is warranted and provide feedback to the supervisee so that they can improve in any necessary areas.

Evaluations. The supervisor is responsible for completing continued evaluations on their supervisee so that they can make improvements throughout the course of their relationship. Evaluations are typically held during each meeting when presenting client cases. Of course, evaluations are confidential and are also documented after each session.

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