You’re a group practice owner, or soon-to-be group practice owner, and you’re desperately looking at hiring supervisees into your group practice. It’s been slim pickings over the past 6-12 months for group practice owners. Finding a perfect-fit, fully licensed therapist to join your group instead of starting their own practice is next to impossible. So, you move on to the next best thing – hiring a pre-licensed or limited licensed therapist for your group instead. But, how do you logistically do this?
Here are 3 questions to help prepare you for hiring supervisees into your group counseling practice:
Can you Provide Clinical Supervision?
- The first question to ask yourself is, can I, and do I want to, provide clinical supervision?
- Do you or another therapist at your practice have the experience and training to provide supervision to a pre-licensed counselor or social worker?
- Do you know what your state requirements are for providing supervision in your state? For example, some states require that you have the designated ACS (Approved Clinical Supervisor) credential before you supervise anyone.
- You also need to ask yourself, do I have the correct license to supervisor whomever you hire? For example, in most states only LCSWs can supervise pre-licensed or limited licensed social workers. But if you’re a licensed counselor such as an LPC you can only hire other pre-licensed counselors to supervisor, not pre-licensed social workers. So who you hire and their licensure is also important.
Does Your Group Practice Model Support Supervisees?
If you’re a W2 Employee group practice model, you should have no problem hiring a pre-licensed therapist from a legal perspective. But if you’re a 1099 Independent Contractor group practice model, you may run into some issues. Some states will not allow you to hire a pre-licensed clinician as a 1099. Or if you do, you may not be able to provide (for free) the clinical supervision to that therapist. The supervisee may need to seek outside clinical supervision for the work they are doing at your own practice, or pay you a fair market rate to provide supervision to them. A pertinent question may be, do you want someone working in your practice but being supervised by someone else externally?
Do you have the time to devote to training and supervising a pre-licensed therapist?
Because pre-licensed therapists tend to be early on in their counseling career, many lack basic job experience doing private practice counseling. It’s going to take a lot more of your time than 1 hour per week of formal supervision for your supervisee to become proficient at their job. Some of the things we forget as more experienced therapists is that there is a learning curve with everything. It takes a while to learn how to write a treatment plan or how to document sessions according to insurance medical necessity rules. And multiple other things take time for supervisees to learn outside of supervision.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re devoting time for direct observation of supervisees’ sessions, documentation review, and just being available for any number of “newbie” questions your supervisee may have. Of course, all of this can be part of your weekly formal supervision, but it is highly likely that you’ll spend at least a few hours per week outside of your scheduled supervision time to address some of these issues.
Now, you may be thinking, I’m trying to talk you out of hiring pre-licensed therapists. And that’s actually not true. I really believe in the value of offering pre-licensed therapists a chance to start their career in private practices. But for it to work well on both sides – and be financially beneficial for you as the group practice owner – you do need to thoughtfully consider the above questions before jumping into hiring someone. You need to make it the best experience for all of you.
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Shannon Heers is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. She owns the private-pay group practice Catalyss Counseling in the Denver metro area, focusing on helping adults manage their anxiety, grief, and trauma. Shannon is also an experienced clinical supervisor and manager who offers business consultation services to other therapists. She balances working with raising her two young children.
Group practice ownership is daunting but can be done easily if you do your homework, prepare, and learn all you can about the process!