I have often been asked whether I have my LPC- associates work in my private practice (La Luz Counseling, LLC) under my LPC supervision. While I really want to say yes, I say no. There are a few reasons why I’ve decided I won’t supervise anyone who works for me. This article review a few things to consider if you are thinking of working for your LPC supervisor OR if you are an LPC supervisor considering employing one of your LPC associates.
LPC supervision is one of my favorite parts of my job, hands down. To be able to support, mentor and enrich mental health professionals over the span of months and years is genuinely an area I am passionate and excited about. Each and every one of the associates I have supervised to date, have been filled with a tenacity and desire to support and encourage all those they work with. Many of the supervisees I have worked with are brilliant, witty, knowledgeable, and sharp. It goes without saying, to work alongside of these individuals would be an honor. WHICH is why some of them receive a job offer with my practice immediately after they are fully licensed. So why don’t I employ my LPC associates in my private practice while they’re in supervision?

Reasons to consider before an LPC Associate works for their LPC Supervisor in Private Practice 

  1. Dual relationships. I know many group practice owners/supervisors, who willingly allow, and want their associates to work under them. There is no ethical or professional concern here. However, during supervision we often discuss site specific issues. Private practices often have unique policies, procedures and processes that are necessary to be reviewed. However, without proper boundaries, LPC supervisors may make use of supervision time to discuss private practice specific issues (ie: it feels like a staff meeting). LPC supervision is intended to review clinical development and foster ethical understanding of the mental health field. Supervision is not meant to talk about private practice policies or have a staff- meeting-type conversation. There must be separation between private practice issues and clinical development.
  2. Power differential. As much as we’ve focused on creating an equal and fair dynamics between associate and supervisor, it goes without saying there is a preconception the LPC supervisor “knows more” than the associate. While this may be accurate [and comforting to some] this may also create an unrealistic/unnecessary or inaccurate presumption of power. So consider the boss, who is the private practice owner- the one who signs off on the employee checks, generates leads, creates expectations around scheduling clients and work hours, addresses problems in the workplace and has the power to hire and fire. Imagine this person is also the one signing off on your LPC hours and being the gatekeeper to recommending you for license upgrade. Could this minimize the associates desire to express concerns, thoughts, or honest feedback to the supervisor for fear of workplace generalization? Would the associate be more likely to stay silent and stay unhappy? To remove the voice of the LPC associate is a terrible, but common occurrence.
  3. Felt Safety. Can an LPC associate ever truly feel 100% safe to go to their LPC supervisor, who is also their boss, for a problem they feel at work? During supervision, an associate may need to process challenges and problems within the workplace. Issues related to conflict with colleagues, concerns of power dynamics with an employer, and petitions for rate increases are common topics that could be discussed in supervision. However, when your LPC supervisor is the same person as your boss, this can create a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety knowing that what the LPC supervisor says, goes. Similar to the above, it is important all associates are 100% comfortable in discussing any supervision/clinically related matter as it pertains to overall professional development.
  4. Lack of exposure to different supervision styles. While I have learned many things over the course of being in leadership as a boss, director and supervisor, I’m still only one person. As a supervisor, I know what works for me based on the feedback I have received from others. That being said, I have selected a highly effective type of supervision, which is collaborative, challenging, and relationship based. My own supervisor used this with me and I thoroughly enjoyed it- read more on that here. However, other supervisory styles can be just as effective. Having only one supervisor over the span of 18 months to 5 years disallows you from experiencing multiple supervision styles. I believe it’s important, especially during supervision, to experience different leadership styles, and glean from them what you enjoy and prefer most.
  5. Money exchange can be convoluted. If you elect to have your LPC supervisor as your boss, or LPC associate as your employee, how will supervision fees be covered? How will the supervisor charge the associate for their supervision fees? Is there a minimum number of clients to be seen each week for supervision to be covered? What happens in the event an associate leaves a private practice, would the LPC supervisor end the relationship because they are no longer employed at the practice? Will the associate pay the supervisor for supervision that should already be part of the LPC supervisors roles and responsibilities in the practice? It’s a lot to consider and all of which can be discussed and confirmed in the internship contract.

These are just a few points when considering if an LPC associate should work for their LPC supervisor. To leave you with any advice would be to do your research, weigh out the pros and cons and staff it out with people you trust. All of the points on this list can be regulated and minimized if BOTH parties ensure healthy professional boundaries and open communication.