3 Ways to Transform Your Experience of Supervision

20 03 2018


Supervisor and supervisee in discussion

“Water the flowers, not the weeds.”  Fletcher Peacock

 Guest Author: Daniel Lawson, LMHC, CASAC

Clinical work can be incredibly difficult and fraught with multi-layered problems.  It is for these reasons that supervision is a must for all of us, should we desire to develop our practice and enhance the clinical skills of our staff. Sometimes, our dedication to solving the problems of our staff and clients can lead to a loss of perspective on “what is working” in our work environment and clinical practice. The results can be devastating to both our colleagues, clients, and supervisees.

As a solution-focused consultant and trainer, my hope in this post is to make the supervision process more human and effective.  Below are three ways to enhance the process of supervision by adding a dimension of strategy to each meeting we have with our staff.

1. Make a Positive Start

Supervision is a parallel process.  Building rapport is essential in developing the kind of relationship that produces remarkable clinical results.  Before getting to work on goals, it is important to relax both the minds of the supervisor and the supervisee.  We can do this by spending the first few minutes of supervision targeting confidence.  Increasing confidence allows for both goal creation and goal consensus in the supervisory relationship.

Increase confidence by simply assisting the supervisee to recognize their strengths and successes through the use of process questions (i.e. How did you do that?).  If we are able to teach our staff to self-validate, they become more resilient, work more independently, and demonstrate more approach (goal driven) behaviors.

[Try this: Obtain competencies in your staff.  Begin by asking your supervisee, “What have you done that you are you most proud of since our last meeting?” or “Where have you been more successful since our last meeting?”

For a first time supervision meeting, ask, “Please tell me about your best accomplishment thus far in your life.”  Continue to ask how they achieved this success and what character strengths are reflected from that experience that can be used in the current clinical work.

Studying our supervisees’ patterns of success allows us to understand how they learn, use their skills, and overcome difficulties.  All these dimensions can be transferred to their clinical work.]

2. Maintain a Goal Focus

Understanding the nature of the supervisory relationship means first clarifying the goal of supervision itself (which may change at each meeting).  Maintaining a goal focus each meeting keeps things intentional, increases motivation, and avoids emotionalism that can disrupt the supervisory relationship.

[Try this: Start by asking your supervisee, “What’s your best hope in our meeting today?”  This assists in focusing the conversation and allows the supervisee to communicate their immediate need.  With continued practice, the supervisee becomes more and more aware of appropriate use of supervision and comes prepared for supervision.  This also communicates respect, as the supervisee is seen as a collaborator and their needs viewed as important during the supervision process.

As the supervisee’s agenda is addressed early in the supervision, urgency does not build and you will have an easier time communicating your own agenda as supervisor during the time you both are together.]

 3. Work on Progress

Discussing and looking for signs and signals of more progress is helpful for both supervisors and their staff.  Helping to build off success, rather than fixing what is broken, maintains positive momentum and engagement in the learning process.  As clinicians study their success, they are not as prone to having to protect their ego and have greater capacity to learn from error.

It is important that supervisors take a growth mindset with their supervisees, recognizing that failure is necessary for learning to take place.

[Try this:  Look for exceptions.  For example:   If your supervisee says that he really wants to get better at leaving work on time; have them pay attention to times when they are able to keep to their schedule either at work or in their personal life.  Ask them “How were you able to make that happen?”  Studying the exceptions can open up more awareness of possible solutions to their current difficulty.]


The employee experience produces the client experience. The way we engage in the supervisory relationship has a deep impact on those we train and educate as well as the way they deliver services to their own clients.  When we change what we focus on in supervision, the focus of our supervisees’ changes, and that can make a world of difference for their clients.  Become a good gardener; water the flowers, not the weeds.  Teach your staff to do the same.

References and Resources


The Cycle of Excellence: Using Deliberate Practice to Improve Supervision and Training by Tony Rousmaniere, Rodney K. Goodyear, Scott D. Miller, Bruce E. Wampold, 2017

Strength Based Clinical Supervision: A Positive Psychology Approach to Clinical Training by John C. Wade and Janice E. Jones, 2015

Handbook of Positive Supervision: For Supervisors, Facilitators, and Peer Groups by Fredrike Bannink 2015

The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact  by Chip and Dan Heath

1001 Solution-Focused Questions by Fredrike Bannink

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: Its Effective Use in Agency Settings by Teri Pichot

The Heroic Client: A Revolutionary Way to Improve Effectiveness Through Client-Directed, Outcome-Informed Therapy by Barry L Duncan, Jacqueline A. Sparks, and Scott D. Miller

The Heart & Soul of Change: Delivering what Works in Therapy by Barry Duncan, Scott Miller, Bruce Wampold, and Mark Hubble


The Centre for Solution Focused Practice www.brief.org.uk 

Seligman with positive psychology questionnaires (including VIA character Strengths survey) www.authentichappiness.org

Solutions in Organizations Link (SOL), solution-focused coaching and management. www.solworld.org

International Center for Clinical Excellence (ICCE), worldwide community dedicated to promote excellence in behavioral healthcare services (Scott D. Miller) www.centerforclinicalexcellence.com


Mick Cooper, “The Facts are friendly” Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94mk843AsLg

Mick Cooper, “The Facts are friendly” Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEYJyq-Peaw

Mick Cooper, “The Facts are friendly” Part 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtRr0kRcBfY

Author Bio:

DaniDan Lawson, LMHC, CASACel Lawson, LMHC, CASAC, works in private practice in Buffalo, NY. He specializes in a variety of areas including solution-focused supervision. Dan is a passionate, eclectic practitioner and bases his practice heavily on a solution-focused approach to therapy.  He also uses DBT, positive psychology, mindfulness, CBT, existential, motivational interviewing, and narrative therapy. Dan has an additional specialty in supporting Catholic men and women as he combines his faith with his psychological training to provide therapy deeply rooted in Catholic Theology and Philosophy. As a balanced professional, he works effectively with his clients regardless of their spiritual/religious beliefs.  Prior to starting a private practice, Dan worked at Horizon Health Services for ten years. In addition to his clinical experience, Dan is a dynamic trainer, keynote speaker, and provides individual and organizational consultation and training services.  Visit his websites for information or to contact him at: http://catholictherapysolutions.com  and www.counselorscorner.net/clinicians.html

7 simple (yet powerful) ways to stand out in the crowd and get more clients!

9 10 2017




Guest author: Deb Legge, PhD, CRC, LMHC

 success-opportunity sign








If you are holding off on your marketing efforts because you feel you haven’t found that “MAGICAL” thing that will get you noticed, here’s a secret you should know…

“Magic” comes in many forms!

As a mental health clinician in private practice, it is imperative to continually find ways to get your name and face in the minds of those with access to and influence over your ideal clients. It’s also necessary to find ways to prove your value to your referrers.  These activities occur over time.

There are, however, day-to-day things you can do that can make a huge impact on the reputation you develop in the community. You’d be surprised by the (simple) things that really make a difference to your referrers (including those clients who are a great source of word-of-mouth referrals).  I try to really listen to what my clients and referral sources say to me, especially when it comes to feedback about why they send me referrals over and over again.  I hope that you do, too.

Here’s what I’ve learned by listening to my “tribe”.  Do these things and you’ll be ‘head and shoulders’ above others in your market (because many people simply aren’t doing them).

  1. If you can’t take the referral for any reason (insurance issues, expertise issues, etc.), provide alternatives to your referrer (or to the client they sent to you). Your resourcefulness will be noted, and your efforts will be appreciated.
  2. Thank your referral sources. When you get a referral from a medical professional, have the client sign a release and then send a thank you note and a copy of your initial assessment to the collaborating physician for their chart.
  3. Maintain communication with the involved physician(s). Find out when your shared client will next be seeing the psychiatrist/medical doc, and send over a copy of your last couple of notes to assist in collaboration of care.
  4. Return phone calls in a timely manner. I can no longer keep track of how many new clients tell me that they called several clinicians when they first called me, and I was the only one to return their call. I don’t care how busy you are — check your voice mail every day, and have the courtesy to let people know whether or not you can see them.
  5. Keep up with your paperwork. When you get a request for clinical information (from social security disability, an attorney, etc.), take the time to honor the request as soon as possible. Don’t put your client in the uncomfortable position of hearing from someone else that you dropped the ball on them.
  6. Forget about the “competition”. Quit worrying about how many new clients your colleagues are getting. Be happy for them; develop and express an honest appreciation for others’ success and let go any jealousy you may have.  Successful therapists are always looking for good referrals for their overflow.
  7. Use your downtime (empty slots in your schedule) to check in with your referrers. Find out what you can do to help out your local psychiatric hospital’s discharge planner; ask your school district’s guidance department what services or groups they are in need of in the community; offer to do depression screenings at a local health fair. These things will keep you from grumbling about the holes in your schedule, and push you forward in your efforts to serve more clients.

Bottom line, a little bit of effort goes a long way to increase  your credibility in the community.  People will only do business with you to the extent they trust you —


Author Bio:

Deb Legge, PhD, CRC, LMHCDeb Legge, PhD, CRC, LMHC, works in private practice in Buffalo, NY. She also specializes in helping entrepreneurial therapists get ‘unstuck’ and grow their practices, including a focus on how to create growth with private pay clients. She recently provided a training on this topic at our 2017 Buffalo Niagara Summer Institute. Her coaching practice has helped thousands of clinicians fill their appointment books using her proven success strategies. Dr. Legge is a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress from AAETS.  Her private practice, located at The Counselor’s Corner, focuses on individuals with chronic anxiety and mood disorders, PTSD and other trauma-related issues, borderline personality disorder, life transition, and grief and loss. In addition to her private clinical practice, she is the founder of Influential Insider’s Circle — the world’s first social learning platform for mental health professionals in private practice.

You can gain access to Dr. Legge’s soon-to-be-released, FREE training:

How to Fill Your Book with Private Pay Clients… And End Your Insurance Struggles for Good, at www.PrivatePayPractice.com

Dr. Legge’s websites:






A New World! Information on CEU Requirements for New York Licensed Social Workers

30 10 2015

Advance your career

Author: Lesa Fichte, LMSW, ACSW, Director of Continuing Education

Given the many questions we receive, I wanted to provide clarification for New York LMSWs, LCSWs and LCSW-Rs regarding the new requirement to have approved continuing education hours to renew your license registration. (Underlined words below are hyperlinked to the applicable web pages.)

  1. Effective date: The New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of Professions State Board for Social Work put this new rule into effect 1/1/15 for LMSWs, LCSWs and LCSW-Rs. Only approved training taken after this date can be used for registration renewal. **As of 1/1/17, there will be a continuing education requirement for licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychoanalysts, and creative arts therapists (please share this with colleagues):  first sentence and last line in section 8412 Mandatory Continuing Education and the  first sentence under Guideline 8: Maintaining Professional Competence
  2. Who are approved training providers? We are one of the approved NYSED State Board for Social Work training providers-  #0001. Refer to #11 below for the link to the list of all approved training providers.
  3. Have questions about the process? Information is on the NYSED website for FAQs (a must-read page for every social worker), regulations, updates on requirements, lists of approved providers, and applications to become a training provider.  The last question in the FAQs provides the email and phone number for the Social Work Board if you have a situation that is not answered by their FAQs or other information.
  4. How many continuing education hours do I need to renew my registration? Check the chart in #8 of the FAQs.  All registrations expire on the last day of the month. The chart gives you dates as of the first of the month when your license is due so you know now many hours are needed for registrations that expire in that month.
  5. Don’t know when your license registration expires? You can look up your license expiration date online. Once the search finds your record, click on your blue license number to pull up the details, status and expiration date if you are currently registered. This is public information available to everyone.
  6. How will NYSED know how many continuing education training hours I have taken? When you renew your registration, you will be asked to sign an attestation statement indicating you have completed your required hours. You do not send in copies of your training certificates at this time. Keep your training certificates for 6 years because when you are randomly audited by NYSED, you will need to provide copies at that time to prove you obtained the required number of hours prior to your last registration renewal. TIP: We suggest that you keep two copies of each training certificate in different places so you always have a copy. Example: keep the originals in a home safe and a scanned copy backed up to a cloud or external hard drive, or in a separate paper file in another location. If you keep certificates at work, keep photocopies and not originals as many people have lost their certificates when they changed jobs.
  7. How do I know if a training is approved for NYSED social work contact hours? Before you register for a training, look for the standard wording in the training or conference description that the provider is approved by the NYSED State Board for Social Work, their provider # and the number of live or self-study contact hours included. This wording should also be on your certificate of completion that you receive at the end of the training event.
  8. “Full attendance is required; partial credit is not given for partial attendance.” What does this mean? The NYSED State Board for Social Work made this a requirement for continuing education training and it was communicated to all training providers. Plan ahead- don’t be late or leave early.
  9. What is the difference between live and self-study contact hours? A live training is delivered in person where you are in the same room with the trainer, or through an online webinar where the trainer is delivering the training at the same time you are watching/listening and you have access to the trainer and other participants. Self-study hours are typically online courses that were prerecorded and you do not have access to the instructor and other participants. The training description and the certificates of completion must specify if the training is providing live or self-study social work contact hours.
  10. How many hours can be self-study? For licensees that register between January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016, NYSED made an exception and is allowing 100% of your training hours to be self-study.  After 1/1/16, only one-third of your continuing education training may be comprised of self-study courses.
  11. I don’t live in the Buffalo area so how do I find approved training providers? Other approved providers are listed on on this NYSED web page.
  12. Are there other ways to obtain social work contact hours? Yes, hours can be obtained if you are a trainer for approved training provider, teaching select university credit courses, writing books or publishing articles, etc. There is information about this in #21 on the FAQ page
  13. What if I have circumstances that do not allow me to comply with obtaining the required continuing education hours? Refer to instructions in the Compliance section on the FAQ page.
  14. How long do I need to keep my training certificates? Keep them at least six years as you are subject to random audits to verify you obtained the required training.
  15. How can I afford to obtain continuing education training when my personal budget is limited? Continuing education is not required in first three-year registration period so this is helpful to those in this time period. As noted above in #13, you can refer to the Compliance section in the FAQ page if you have extenuating circumstances. Many training providers offer early bird discounts, discounts if you register for multiple trainings at the same time or other promotions. There are sometimes free or low cost trainings with approved hours offered though community trainings and conferences, as well as your affiliation with particular groups such as the university where you received your MSW degree. In addition, you can estimate for your area what the typical cost is per training. If you budget that you will need approximately 12 training hours a year (once you are in your three year registration period), set aside a small amount of money each month so that you have a fund to pay for training. For example, setting aside $20 a month in Western New York might be adequate to cover your training costs each year (unless you are attending unusually expensive trainings) if you spread your training out over the applicable time period.
  16. Who keeps track of the training hours I have taken? Each social worker is responsible for keeping a tally of the training hours taken in relation to the hours needed. Training providers do not send information to NYSED regarding the trainings you have taken.
  17. What other CEUs/contact hours/credits do you offer? Currently, we provide the NYSED social work contact hours for most of our live workshops, live certificate programs and online self-study courses as well as for a select number of MSW elective credit courses. For those states that accept ASWB ACE social work credits, we are an approved provider and most of our live and self-study courses offer these credits. For New York addictions professionals, many of our trainings offer NYS OASAS initial and renewal training hours.
  18. What is the difference between CEUs, contact hours and credits? Differently credentialing bodies use different language. NYSED uses social work ‘contact hours’ as their official wording. ‘CEUs’ is a worldwide definition for Continuing Education Units. The ASWB ACE program calls their hours ‘credits’. Other providers may use ‘training hours’, ‘CEs’, etc. We often use ‘CEUs’ in general marketing language. For the wording in training descriptions and certificates of completion, we are careful to use the social work wording required by NYSED and ASWB ACE program.
  19. Are there NYSED contact hours for UB’s MSW elective credit courses as I am already a licensed social worker and want to take some of these courses? We have select one and three-credit MSW elective courses approved for NYSED social work contact hours. Licensed social workers can take these courses on a non-degree basis. The course list and instructions are online.   Note: Active Field Educators for the UB School of Social Work have an opportunity each year to apply for a tuition waiver that will cover the tuition costs of UB’s credit courses (does not cover the additional fees). This significantly reduces the cost of taking a three credit MSW elective course.

I hope this information is helpful! 

Quick Links

NYSED State Board for Social Work Information

Quick continuing education overview from NYSED State Board for Social Work

NYSED links to all of the information regarding social work continuing education

Our Continuing Education Links

Our YouTube videos explaining some of the NY social work contact hours requirements

Our main website (use the horizontal green bar with the links to open the drop down list of additional links; click on links to open each web page)

Our online self-study course web page (introduction page with a link to the online course catalog)

Announcing our new blog!

10 07 2013

When I graduated with my MSW many years ago, I NEVER imagined I would be doing things like blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn as part of my job! YIKES! This stuff is stressful to learn and without  leadership and encouragement  from our amazing Dean Dr. Nancy Smyth, I would be too scared and overwhelmed to do this!

Do you ever feel like that in your job when there are so many changes you have to keep up with? 🙂

Why start a blogA blog allows us to provide you with more in-depth information on trending topics and we can share it quickly through a tweet, Facebook page post or LinkedIn update. In addition to being able to open the blog post from these other social media sites, you can also  fill out the form on the right side of our blog home page to receive an email notification when we publish a new post. Most of the time, I will be the primary blogger although we may occasionally bring in a guest blogger.

So stay tuned for our next post to be published soon!  (Same Bat-time, same Bat-station, for those like me who are old enough  to remember the original Batman TV show!) LOL! Yes, it’s true…I LOVE Batman!

And did you know I have this lovely, “priceless” tiara to celebrate my new status as a Blogging Goddess? And in my favorite color!

Blog goddess photo

Author: Lesa Fichte, LMSW, Director of Continuing Education

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