When I first started out, I was in a clinical consultation group with a mix of Baptist Minister Ph.d’s and divinity students. I was fresh out of graduate school and they took pity on my financial situation and let me come for a reduced fee. The oldest member was 79. “Why?”, I asked him, “Are you STILL doing consultation?”. He replied, “It makes me a better therapist.” And he was right! Clinical Consultation that promotes your practice is everything. There’s something about putting your most confused foot forward for a group of trusted colleagues who have your best interest in mind. Whether it’s your first day on the job or your 25th year, the insights you gain from saying it aloud, are invaluable.
And, when you share the most vulnerable parts of your work; the gaffes, the outright mistakes, the biases and blind spots, you become a better therapist. In our practices, there are a lot of clinical years in the consultation groups we run. And every single time, a new idea, technique or truth is discovered. And who notices the most? The client.
Convinced? I hope so. Because while supervision (if you have a provisional license), or consultation, is often expensive and time consuming it’s a necessary ethical component of your practice. I can always tell the isolated, egocentric therapists at conferences. They have one way, (their way!) of seeing a clinical situation. They are there for CEU’s only–and new ideas will interfere with the constructs and comforts that they have created for their practice. They stopped supervision long ago when they became “experts” and the license was granted. They may be holding their own with client numbers, but often, they are struggling with empty slots. Why? They haven’t flexed and added new ideas to the way they do things. A vulnerable therapist is growing and learning all the time and in turn, so are their clients. And when your clients are changing and seeing results, they tell others, who become new clients.
So, find yourself a clinical supervisor or a consultation group, even if you are long past licensing. And make sure it’s a place that feels safe. Interview first, and explain how you do therapy and see if you are a fit. Ask to see a copy of the Supervisor’s Self Assessment and Professional Disclosure Ask about process within the group–how does it work? Does everyone present every time? Is there a formal method for feedback? Find out about access to the supervisor in non-supervision/consultation times. Who is her back-up when she is not available? And do it. You will have to comply in order to obtain your license, but you should continue, to maintain not only your therapeutic integrity but your ability to become the best practitioner you can be.
Don’t be discouraged if your ethical orientations are vastly different. Sometimes, that makes for the most lively and eye-opening sessions. Remember that Baptist supervision group? Even though, *ahem*, no one would describe me as a card carrying member–I learned a lot from a perspective that was wildly different than mine. To this day, I still use some of the best ideas I learned when I was just starting out in supervision.