Many masters level social work and counseling graduates begin to practice with a lot of knowledge, but little experience in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is both a skill and an art, and it takes careful processing and diligent study to become a confident, effective clinician. Many new therapists confide that they sometimes pretend to know what they are doing and wonder when they will feel like “real” therapists! These kinds of thoughts are natural, and much better than thinking you have it all under control on your own. I believe new therapists must grow thoughtfully and with expert guidance, over time, to become their best selves in relationship to clients. Supervision is not just a Board requirement–it’s an opportunity to become a skilled and confident psychotherapist who offers good work to her or his clients and knows how to manage an ethical and successful practice.
I also believe that in order to continue to practice effectively throughout their professional lives, psychotherapists must continue to do their own work in therapy, and in consultation. Sharing your work with peers gives you the advantage of their experience and the observational point of view of someone outside of the therapeutic relationship. Consulting with an expert gives you the benefit of a master clinician’s study and insight in an area of special knowledge. Both kinds of consultation give you the space to share a dilemma so that you don’t have to hold it alone. Good ongoing clinical support and training keep the work vibrant and alive, prevent burnout and ensure the therapist’s ongoing growth.
In summary, get the best supervision, consultation and training you can, and the benefits will be excellence and satisfaction in your work, and the self-care and energy to sustain a long and successful practice.