Monday, November 9, 2009

Supervision for licensure in NC

by Jack Register, Director of Advocacy & Legislation

We at NASW-NC get many questions about supervision for those seeking licensure. Even though supervision is a critical part of any social work practice, this posting will focus on supervision for those seeking licensure. NASW-NC will have future posts regarding the larger issues of supervision in practice.

In order to meet the requirements as set by the statute, it is critical to understand the following. In order for someone to supervise a PLCSW for licensure, they must themselves be two (2) years post licenusre and be in good standing with the board.

The period of being a PLCSW is a difficult one for many social workers. The supervisor is the guide through this process. In essence, they are standing in for the licenusre board on a day to day basis. They are responsible for seeing that social work practice meets the definition of clinical practice, that the PLCSW is within the scope of their practice and are serving clients they are clinically prepared to serve. In sum, they are responsible for the practice of a PLCSW. By law, the PLCSW is operating under the licensure of their LCSW supervisor.

The PLCSW and LCSW supervisor meet on a ratio of one hour of supervision to every 30 hours of paid clinical practice. The supervision session is driven and managed by the supervisor. Many times you will be asked to bring case examples, you will be asked to discuss a theoretical technique you are using, you will be asked about ethical conflicts, you will be asked about self care....and so much more. It is imperative that this relationship be one of trust and openness. The LCSW supervisor is responsible for those cases discussed and those that are not.

Another frequent question we are asked at NASW-NC is what if my supervisor is not in my agency? The answer to this is that there is no requirement that a supervisor be in the same agency as the PLCSW they supervise. It is very common for supervisors to be outside the agency.

NASW-NC would strongly recommend a frank and honest dialogue between the PLCSW, the agency administrative supervisor, and the LCSW supervisor. There may need to be a written agreement for how to best serve the PLCSW in supervision. Often. when conflict arise, it is this open dialogue that will allow for the situation to be resolved.

Questions regarding fees for supervision are frequent in our office at NASW-NC. There is no rule of thumb here to go on. In the modern practice environment, there are as many variances in costs of supervision as there supervisors. What we at NASW-NC would recommend to PLCSWs in practice is to look to your agency for some support. Ask if they can subsidize some if not all the cost of supervision. It is common when this happens that the agency create a "give back" clause. This means for every year or "x" amount of dollars spent on supervision the PLCSW would give "y" amount of time back to the agency. This ensures that agencies don't pay for supervision only to lose the clinical social worker upon completion of licensure.

The key to survival, as in all of social work practice is communication. Talk with other PLCSWs about their experiences. Ask questions of your agency. We at NASW-NC have a PLCSW listserv that is a member benefit. Check it out!

Jack is the Director of Advocacy & Legislation for NASW-NC and the Editor of Hull House NC. He is the lobbyist and advocate for the association and represents NASW-NC in statewide advocacy coalitions, to the departments of state government, and is the lobbyist for the legislature. Jack is an LCSW and has practice experience in a wide variety of mental health, medical and addiction settings. He can be reached at the association by email at

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