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How to Avoid Pitfalls and Unlock Confidence in Clinical Supervision

Who holds accountability in our profession? Most automatically think of therapists and counselors, which is true, but they are not the only ones. Clinical supervisors support the ongoingness of the field by training the next generation of professionals to ensure the welfare of the public and support standards of care. Supervisors are also responsible for evaluating and gatekeeping for the profession. There are standards and ongoing requirements to ensure high standards of care, and yet, there are still grievances in our field.

How to avoid pitfalls in clinical supervision and unlock confidence? Researchers in the field argue that understanding the types of ethical violations that get reported AND acted upon is helpful for training and practice of counseling professionals.

In one study, it was found that the top types of ethical violations filed with state licensing boards included:

  1. Failure to acquire continuing education credits (16.8%)
  2. Dual relationships (nonsexual) at 12.5%
  3. Sexual relationships with clients (9.0%)
  4. Misrepresentation of training/credentials to the public (6.7%).

It is mind-blowing that these violations still occur in our time, especially since clinical supervision is an identified specialty!  This might be a touchy subject or intimidating for many folks, but this needs to be visited and discussed repeatedly. Accountability in this field is paramount for the continued success of all.

Do you wonder, “how do I avoid pitfalls and maintain a connection to confidence and joy as I serve?” Follow these recommendations, and you will be on competent, compliant, and confident ground as a supervisor and as an influencer for the future of our field. 

Connection to your Why?

Most are familiar with Simon Sinek’s book,Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action.  His message is “there are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or inspire it”. 

Connection to YOUR Why? provides curiosity, momentum, inspiration, and a continued desire to learn and grow. When was the last time you asked yourself, “why am I a supervisor?”, “why do I do what I do?”. These two questions (and answering them) will clear the path to standards of excellence to help you avoid pitfalls, complaints, and burnout.

As Sinek mentions, you can either manipulate or inspire. Clinical supervisors have many roles and responsibilities, not to mention only being in one place at a time. Role modeling connection to your why? and mentoring supervisees to connect to their calling/purpose/Why? inspires them to be the best and learn to maintain standards, compliance, and care. Building trust and ensuring compliance is paramount in the supervisory relationship and the success of our field.

Professional Development and Continued Education

Each state has different requirements for maintaining your license in the state it was issued.  As we learned, one of the most recurring grievances with disciplinary action is failure to acquire continuing education credits (16.8%). In addition, multiple states have specific requirements for clinical supervision. For instance, in the state of Colorado, to become a LPC clinical supervisor you are required to meet what CCA is calling the 3-3-4 Rule.

Supervisors are responsible for understanding and teaching laws, standards, and ethical decision-making. If you're not walking the walk, then how competent or compliant is your supervision? 

Remember all those classes and hours of study it took to get you where you’re at. Education should never stop. Continuing education is part of the profession, not only for your license but also for your role as supervisor. After reading this, I am confident you will plan your route to maintain CE requirements for your license and how you will provide this knowledge to your supervisees so you don’t become part of that 16.8%! 

Supervision of Supervision

How often have you been asked, “now that I'm licensed, do I still need supervision/consultation?”  The plain and simple answer is ABSOLUTELY! Having been in the role of a supervisor and a therapist for nearly two decades, I am here to tell you: NEVER PRACTICE IN ISOLATION. This holds true for clinical supervisors.  If we hold the supervisee accountable, then shouldn’t we be held accountable? Having a network to hold yourself accountable should be a priority if giving supervision. Talking with other supervisors and professionals in your network is always recommended. We all have blind spots. Avoid the pitfalls and remember to never practice alone. 

Professional Membership

Maintaining or starting memberships in professional organizations will help to keep you connected and updated on what’s going on with your profession. ACA, APA, AAMFT, and NASW are some of the many organizations that allow memberships.  There are multiple benefits to being a member: 

  1. You get the latest updates to laws, standards, and more
  2. You have access to CE credits
  3. You have access to an ethics committee to support your decision-making in sticky situations
  4. You can tap into the collective and receive discounts on malpractice insurance
  5. You can market your services on directories

Create your action plan to ensure connection and compliance. Elevate those around you, and the profession elevates too. Don’t be left out, avoid pitfalls, and unlock your confidence as a supervisor!

If you need support to unleash your talents and deepen your skills as a supervisor, I can help!


We welcome guest columnist Francisca Mix, LPC, BC-DMT, ACS.  Francisca is the CEO & Founder of Francisca Consulting and Counseling and she provided a course for TCI on the importance of compliance and standards in clinical supervision relationships.


About Francisca Mix, LPC, BC-DMT, ACS:

Francisca Mix is the CEO & Founder of Francisca Consulting & Counseling. She continues to support professionals and individuals to find more joy, confidence, and fulfillment in business and in life for nearly 20 years. Francisca was one of the trainers featured in The Colorado Counseling Association (CCA) Clinical Supervision Training. She consults with other leadership teams in the field, supporting company programming, compliance, training development, change management, and more. In addition, Francisca was the former Clinical Director/Trainer at Noeticus Counseling Center, where she supported hundreds of upcoming professionals in the mental health field for over a decade through clinical internship programming and the Approved Clinical Supervisor advanced training. Lastly, Francisca provides training/webinars for various companies on topics such as: clinical supervision, private practice building, ethics and law in mental health, marketing in mental health, and more. 

You can find more about Francisca by clicking here.