Nonprofit Supervision: Top 5 Prep Steps

Have you found a great nonprofit job- that doesn't have a clinical supervisor? 

You are not alone! I hear from more interns in California who have found great job locations, but are left with the task of finding an "offsite clinical supervisor." The potential employer is often well meaning, but just as confused as the potential employee- and is able to provide very little direction. 

To complicate matters, a person's geographic location can have a huge impact on the quantity, quality, and diversity of individual clinical supervisors available. A few quick examples: 


  1. You have 3 clinical supervisors to choose from if you live in Redding, versus 500 options if you are in Los Angeles. 
  2. There are a ton of great clinical supervisors out there. However, finding the most qualified supervisor to work with can be extremely difficult. What if you find out noone in your town has a good reputation? Or, if you have so many people to wade through, you have no way of finding the "best." 
  3. You might be doing some specialized work, like working with eating disorders. No matter how well meaning and great your clinical supervisor is, if they have no eating disorder experience, it will impact your professional development! 


So, what does all of this mean for you as a current (or upcoming) nonprofit employee looking for a clinical supervisor? Well, I have a bit of GREAT news for many of you. Geographical location no longer has to be a problem. If you are an intern working at a nonprofit, you can get supervision over Skype! This may not be the perfect solution, but it is allowing many interns more choice in who helps them through their professional development. 

So, now that we have a level playing field- here are my Top 5 strategies for finding a clinical supervisor: 


  1. Sit down and identify what YOU need from a clinical supervisor. Yes, this might look like a dating list! I have to have a consultant or supervisor with a great sense of humor, that can be very direct with me would be a great example. 
  2. Identify what your long term goals would be from clinical supervision. "I want to be able to pass exams and open a private practice." or "I want to be a trauma specialist who works with domestic violence and sexual assault victims." 
  3. Be honest about the way that you learn. Are you more of a hands on learner? A visual learner? An auditory learner? Does technology freak you out or excite you? 
  4. Look at your budget and determine what is workable for you- keeping in mind that if you pick the best clinical supervisor for you, it can be an investment in your future success. 
  5. Look at this as a hiring process, not for you, but for the clinical supervisor! Don't be desperate focusing on anyone who will take you! Do be looking for someone who feels like they will be an integral part of YOUR professional development. 

I also want to let you know that technology is having an awesome impact on the options available for providing therapy. Skype is not only an option for face to face supervision, it can also allow for live supervision. 

Live supervision is where you have an ear piece in, your supervisor watches your progress, and provides suggestions as you work. For some this is distracting, for others it is a huge part of their clinical development. Your supervisor can also simply watch your sessions live, without providing you feedback and then give you feedback after the session while things are fresh- providing you with a fuller type of feedback based on a whole other level of detail. 

I hope that this article helps all of you wonderful nonprofit workers become inspired to find the right clinical supervisor for you! 

(And yes, I and many other Marriage and Family Therapists are providing distance, Skype based individual supervision to MFT Interns in rural areas, or who need a specific specialization. You can learn more about the process of hiring an offsite supervisor here: /clinicalsupervision/)