How to Direct your Prospective Supervisee on the Super Highway to Credentialing

How to Direct your Prospective Supervisee on the Super Highway to Credentialing

Are you ready to take on a new supervisee?  Maybe you are new to Supervision or have been burned a bit in the past? Maybe you are looking for professional growth? You get the call or email requesting your services. What an honor. How can you adequately assess the positive potential of forming this new and important relationship?  This article provides tips on evaluating art therapy credential candidates’ readiness for supervision, potential for professional competency and success.

Our choice to become an art therapy supervisor originates from many places. Apart from the fame and fortune, it’s a way of giving back to our profession, validating our own good work and ensuring the growth of qualified credentialed professional art therapists.   Muhammad Ali once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” You may enjoy the rewards of sharing your experience with others. More importantly, your supervisory role is a way of serving the public by developing ethical and competent art therapists. For myself, I have had a personal mission to increase the numbers of qualified art therapy professional counselors in underserved areas of south Texas. Whatever your intent, your hopeful and eager art therapy graduate seeking your supervision is likely to be in a quandary navigating the credentialing and licensing requirements to jump start their art therapy counseling career.

Caren Sacks points out, “There are different aspects to supervision.  Both parties are aware that the supervisor is a role model, one who guides and oversees the quality of client care and can provide support in managing and attending to administrative duties as well as support, encouragement and direction for professional development, enhancement of clinical skills and growth as an art therapist.” The responsibility of a supervisor must be taken very seriously. Your guidance (or omission of) will impact your supervisee in so many ways including how they develop their livelihoods.  In some cases, your oversights may send a red flare to your own credentialing board or professional reputation in your community.

The ATCB Code of Ethics, Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures, 1.3 Responsibility to Students and Supervisees outlines specific roles and behaviors a Supervisor must comply with. As in the State of Texas LPC Rules and Regulations, 681.93 Supervisor Requirements, “(e) the full professional responsibility for the counseling activities of an LPC Intern shall rest with the intern’s board approved supervisor(s).” With that in mind, a careful review of a potential supervisee’s background and professional goals should be assessed before moving into this long term relationship.

Let’s Start at the beginning…

Before you meet in person, ask the supervisee by phone or email who referred you or why they chose to contact you. Request that they send or bring a resume, proof of academic training, and art portfolio electronically or to the initial meeting.  Knowing they have record of their course syllabi is essential. Some academic programs have courses that may not clearly translate as meeting ATCB criteria,  if your candidate is in a state that requires licensure there is another layer of rules and regulations that must be met.

Your potential supervisee arrives for your first in-person interview. Here is where you ascertain strengths and weakness through your candidate’s level of competency and commitment. Allow this candidate to begin with questions for you.  This will give you a clue as to how much research and knowledge they have about the credential they want to pursue.  In Lawrence M. Brammer’s book, The Helping Relationship, he identifies positive characteristics of a counseling professional. Does your interviewee project a sense of self-awareness, values, strong ethics, altruism, responsibility and qualities to be a role model? Does this individual see potential clients as able rather than unable to solve their own problems? These qualities will determine how they will react to the challenges of meeting extensive criteria in the credentialing process. Interview questions below may give you the answers to these points.

  • What has been your most meaningful past work and volunteer experience?
  • How far do you want to go professionally and academically?
  • How do you feel about taking the Art Therapy Credential Board Exam?
  • Are you interested in attaining the ATR-Provisional?
  • Are you or do you plan to become a member of a professional organization?
  • Do you have a site in which to gain hours? Will you need help in this area? What contacts have you already made?
  • What is your dream job?-private practice, agency, school setting, hospital etc. What are you willing to do to attain that dream job, i.e. volunteer work, proposal writing? Making contacts, moving locations?
  • Do you have a time line?
  • Do you have the resources and support to manage this journey to full credentialing and employment? Are you willing to take more coursework if necessary?
  • Are you aware of the salary range for what you want to do and is that satisfactory?
  • What type of art do you create? What is your experience as an artist?

It is important that your potential supervisee understands that entering a professional relationship is a liability to you and your credentials and hence why a contract is put into place.  They need to know they have protections too wherein you refer to the ATCB Code of Ethics.

A contract is essential in forming any exchange of services.  This will include general rules and regulations set forth in code of ethics and if appropriate required for state licensure.  Written clarification on the frequency, nature, set up and cancellation policies of supervisory meetings assures proper adherence from the start. An open discussion on financial arrangements and written policies on termination from either party is a must.

Finally, at the end of the interview encourage a time of reflection on both parts.  I ask myself three questions about the interviewee.

  1. What is my gut feeling about this new professional?
  2. Does this professional represent the standards and mission set forth in the ATCB code of professional practice?
  3. Would I refer a client to this person?

If the potential for a yes exists, set a solution-focused plan for any deficiencies to meet criteria. Write an action plan with your new supervisee.  Encourage them to see this as the life practice of a professional. Most importantly, validate their strengths; remind them that the goal is reachable but patience and sacrifice is included.  It is helpful to parallel this to the goals we set forth with our clients.  If these points are covered and accomplished…Get on your mark, get set, Get ready, Go Supervise.


American Art Therapy Association, (2017) State Advocacy  

Brohl, Katheryn, (2018) Strength-Based Supervision

Common Wealth of Kentucky, (2016) Public Protection Cabinet

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (2018) The Pennsylvania Code

New Jersey Legislature, (2018) Art Therapy Licensing Act

Written by:

Deborah Murphy
Secretary, Art Therapy Credentials Board

Ethical Concerns and Practical Advice for Supervisors

Ethical Concerns and Practical Advice for Supervisors

In my role as a consultant for CPH, an insurance agency that provides professional negligence insurance for mental health professionals, I often consult with supervisors of licensure candidates from across the country when they have issues or concerns related to supervision. Supervisors can be held accountable for the mistakes and acts of their supervisees and held civilly liable for negligent supervision of supervisees if a client is harmed.  As a result of these consultations I have compiled the following list of suggestions for supervisors of candidates for licensure or certification.

  1. Know the rules promulgated by your board or certification body and review them with the supervisee. Make sure all documentation is timely completed and submitted at the front end and throughout the term of the supervision.  If you are an off-site supervisor be sure any changes in the supervision agreement or the supervisee’s practice sites are reported to the board if required.
  2. Keep your supervision credential current and monitor your continuing education compliance. Letting your credential lapse could jeopardize a supervisee’s approval of supervision hours and you could be compelled to refund fees paid to you by the supervisee.  Continually improve your knowledge of and competency for supervision through education and consultation with colleagues.
  3. Thoroughly vet your supervisees. Interview them carefully. Contact instructors, especially practicum and internship supervisors and instructors, for feedback and information. Ask for letters of recommendation. Trust your “gut”.
  4. Not all graduate programs are the same. Familiarize yourself with the programs your supervision applicants come from. You want strong applicants from strong programs.
  5. Review case files for every client your supervisee treats even if you are an off-site supervisor. I have had many consults with supervisors who learned after the supervision relationship terminated that deficiencies existed for a supervisee’s client records.
  6. Check in with the clients treated by the supervisee.Their perception of their therapy may be very different from the supervisee’s. Question them about their satisfaction with the supervisee and the services they have received.
  7. If you are an off-site supervisor, check in regularly with a supervisee’s employers and employment supervisors. Again, trust but verify.
  8. When you provide direction to your supervisee expect prompt follow through. Document compliance or the lack thereof in your supervision file.  When problems become evident quickly lay out a remediation plan orally and in writing. Monitor compliance and progress closely and document them.
  9. If a supervisee does not comply with the remediation plan or proves to be a poor provider terminate your supervision.
  10. Encourage communication from your supervisees when questions or problems arise for them.Make sure your supervisees have easy access to you when their need to communicate arises.  Consider setting a specific recurring time for supervision sessions so both you and the supervisee can more easily manage your calendars and availability.
  11. Make sure you have easy access to your supervisees when you need to communicate with them arises.
  12. Make sure your supervisees have professional liability insurance coverage and stay insured.Get proof of insurance.
  13. Make sure you maintain your own professional liability insurance.
  14. If applicable board rules or ethics codes require you to report violations by licensees or credential holders do not hesitate to do so. Your failure to do so could result in disciplinary action being brought against you.
  15. Be quick to intervene when you have concerns about a supervisee’s competence to effectively treat a client and if necessary help facilitate the referral to a mental health professional who has the needed competency.
  16. Make sure you charge adequate fees for your supervision. Fight the “you get what you pay for” mentality that could creep in otherwise. To provide good supervision and do the things I am suggesting is time consuming and a service for which you deserve to be appropriately compensated.
  17. Only supervise the number of supervisees for whom you can provide quality supervision.
  18. View supervisees like clients you treat, only hopefully, more stable and better adjusted.They deserve the same professionalism and courtesy as the people you treat. Remember you are a role model for your supervisees whether you like it or not
  19. To provide quality supervision you must maintain objectivity so consider maintaining the same strict boundaries as you would with a therapy client.
  20. Keep detailed records for each supervision session including time, date, what was covered and discussed. Don’t forget to cover ethics and document it.

Never forget your accountability and potential liability as a supervisor when things do not go well with a supervisee and the supervision. Being vigilant and active in your role as supervisor and thoroughly documenting your supervision is best practice.

For further information regarding supervision you can visit us here and like us on Facebook & Instagram to keep up with ATCB news and updates.











Written by:

Tom Hartsel
Public Member Director

Everything You Want to Know About Supervision

Everything You Want to Know About Supervision

Supervision is so important to our growth and development as art therapists, in our commitment to provide quality treatment to our clients and for self care. There can be many questions regarding supervision, I have highlighted the basics below.

What is supervision?

Supervision is a professional relationship that 2 people (or a seasoned art therapist and a group of supervisees) willingly enter into where one is deemed an expert. A supervisor has sufficient years of clinical experience, appropriate credentials, ongoing educational training (perhaps being involved in his or her own supervision process) and awareness of the responsibility of being a supervisor.

There are different aspects to supervision. Both parties are aware that the supervisor is a role model, one who guides and oversees the quality of client care and can provide support in managing and attending to administrative duties as well as support, encouragement and direction for professional development, enhancement of clinical skills and growth as an art therapist.

Who can provide supervision?

Anyone who provides supervision needs to demonstrate his or her knowledge, commitment to the field of art therapy and own ongoing growth and development as an art therapist. Supervisors need to have someone they can access for their own supervision and/or consultation, and have a minimum number of years of practice after they receive their credentials and their own supervision. (The ATR-BC and/or a license to practice in a particular state does not necessarily qualify someone to supervise another art therapist.) Completing the ATR, Board Certification, and state licensure is a huge accomplishment and requires many hours of direct service and supervision. While it is something of which to be proud, it does not automatically qualify an art therapist to able to provide adequate supervision to others.

So, who can provide supervision?

Malchiodi and Riley recommend a number of guidelines for art therapy supervision and for the responsibilities of a supervisor. They suggest that a supervisor have the following qualifications:

  1. Be credentialed in the field
  2. Have no pre-existing relationship with the potential supervisee
  3. Have two years of active practice following receiving his or her credentials
  4. Have supervised experience in serving a similar population to that of the supervisee
  5. Be aware of multicultural issues in both clinical work and supervision
  6. Be sensitive to the evaluative nature of supervision

Who needs supervision?

Supervision is important for on-going growth and development as art therapists, to enhance clinical skills, to receive support and guidance when working with challenging clients, for encouragement, for having a safe place to address countertransference concerns, and for self care.  Art therapists in training, new art therapists working towards their credentials and art therapists working with a new population all require supervision.

What about once art therapists have received their credentials? The mental health field, especially our chosen profession of art therapy, is constantly changing and growing. Reading, attending conferences, being aware of new ideas and approaches, attending advanced training programs, and yes, being involved in our own supervision can help us continue to grow. Supervision is especially imperative in one’s early years of clinical practice, but at any stage of development and experience, a supervisory relationship can be a satisfying and enriching experience for both parties.

While one may not necessarily choose to be in supervision weekly throughout one’s entire career, one does need to have someone to reach out to for supervision and/or feedback. “Supervision provides the distance that the therapist needs to look at cases objectively”- Klorer.

How do you know if you are ready to be a supervisor?

If you do want to be a supervisor, explore working towards your ATCS, an Art Therapy Certified Supervisor. Once you have your ATR-BC, be aware of the many important aspects of supervision, as well as things to think about prior to making a commitment to supervising other art therapists. Consider the following:

  • Do you feel you have adequate experience and clinical skills with the population with whom the supervisee is working?
  • Do you feel prepared to mentor, support, guide, and help another art therapist find his or her voice as an art therapist?
  • Are you prepared to address client – therapist interactions that may need to be looked at more carefully, whether it be related to counter transference, skill level, or treatment issues and goals?
  • How will you structure the supervision meetings?
  • How will art making be included?
  • Are you in supervision yourself?
  • Do you need to sign off on notes that the supervisee writes?
  • Will this take place on site, where you both work, off site, or in a private practice setting?
  • If on site, how will being the supervisor possibly alter your existing relationship with your supervisee?

Our own Code of Ethics, Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures, addresses the art therapist’s role as supervisor and should be consulted prior to making the decision to supervise someone. According to article 1.3.4, “Art therapists who act as supervisors are responsible for maintaining the quality of their supervision skills and obtaining consultation or supervision for their work as supervisors whenever appropriate.”

So, while you may be able to supervise someone once you have your ATR-BC, please be thoughtful in deciding if you should, if you feel adequately prepared to thoughtfully take on the roles and responsibilities of supervisor, including administrative, clinical and educational roles, and you are confident in your understanding of and ability to adhere to the ethics of the ATCB regarding supervision.

As Garlock stated in the Spring 2017 edition of The ATCB Review, “The helping professions are continually changing—hopefully growing and becoming better at serving clients and communities. Some allied fields already require supervisor certification in order to supervise; it may be just a matter of time before all licensed professions, including art therapy, require certification. And that is a good thing for therapists, supervisees, and clients.”

To learn more about art therapy supervision visit us here and like us on Facebook & Instagram to keep up with ATCB news and updates.

This article was originally published in the ATCB Review Summer 2017, Volume 24, Issue 2


Written by:

Caren Sacks