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8 Things I Wish I Knew as a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

8 Things I Wish I Knew as a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

You made it! All those chapters, papers, late nights, and recordings finally paid off and you are officially a counselor! Congratulations! But wait, there's more. If you plan to practice in certain states like Florida, New York, Texas, or California, you’re going to need a few more years of supervision before you’re eligible for licensure. The registered internship process can be confusing to navigate, but the supervision experience can be really beneficial. Read on to learn how to make the most out of your final internship.

8 Things I Wish I Knew as a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern | dianemunoz.com

1. IT CAN BE HARD to find a Qualified Supervisor

It can be surprisingly difficult to find a supervisor! There’s not exactly a database for qualified supervisors, so it takes a lot of research to find one you want to work with. Keep in mind that many supervisors will want to meet with you before committing to be your supervisor (their license is on the line after all). Then, once you've chosen your supervisor, she still has to provide a letter to the Board in order to complete your intern application. This process can take months, so start early! (Little known fact: The Florida Board actually does have an official list of qualified supervisors that you can request by email.)

2. WHEN IT COMES TO CLINICAL SUPERVISION, You get what you pay for

When you get hired for your first counseling position, you might be excited to learn that clinical supervision is included for free by a senior clinician. Score! But before you take advantage of that option, let me warn you about some potential issues.

When clinical supervision is provided by a co-worker, that’s essentially a dual relationship. Quality supervision prioritizes your professional development. But when supervision is provided by your employer, the supervisor’s responsibility is to prioritize the company.

Keep in mind too, that the role of supervisor may be an extra (and possibly non-optional) task thrown on the shoulders of an already overworked clinician. These factors can result in supervision that is unfocused or inconsistent. Give it some thought before you take the free option.

3. Registered Interns need their own malpractice insurance

When working at an agency, you will likely be covered by their malpractice insurance. It’s not a bad idea to buy your own policy though. When the policy is paid for by your agency, the insurance provider will protect the agency in the event of an incident. This could mean that you are left to fend for yourself. When you purchase your own malpractice insurance policy, you can be confident that are covered no matter what.

4. You have to identify yourself as a "Registered mental health counselor Intern"

Regardless of practice setting, you have an ethical and legal responsibility to clearly state that you are a “Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern” on all promotional materials. This includes business cards, brochures, stationery, ads, signs, websites, and profiles. Even an abbreviation like RMHCI is considered inadequate. (Only licensed professionals are allowed to use acronyms for their titles.) Interns have actually been reported and disciplined for failing to do this. Make sure you’re not one of them!

5. There are different models of Clinical Supervision

There are models for supervision just like there are theories for counseling! Ask which model your supervisor uses and do a little research. It can help you decide if a particular supervisor is a good fit for you and will also give you an idea of what to expect from your supervision.

Looking for a Qualified Supervisor in SWFL? Let's talk!

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6.  There are savings in numbers

Having to pay out of pocket for supervision in order to work is pretty frustrating. It helps to think of supervision as an extension of your education. It also helps to get creative. In order to be eligible for licensure in 2 years, you need to do at least 15 hours of counseling per week. But, if you do 14 hours or less, you’re only required to have supervision every 2 weeks. That cuts your monthly cost in half.

Want to save even more? Did you know that individual supervision is defined as supervision with 1-2 interns? That means that you could potentially split your session with a colleague, cutting your cost in half again.

Want to save even more? You’re allowed to obtain 50% of your supervision in a group setting of 3-6 interns! If the supervisor you want charges $120 per session, taking advantage of all of these options could decrease the cost from $520 to only $90 per month!

7. Registered Interns can submit their hours any time

You don’t have to wait until you apply for licensure to submit your hours. Ask your supervisor to complete the Supervised Experience Attestation Form for you periodically throughout your internship. That way you don’t risk losing months or years of work in the event your supervisor becomes unable to sign for your hours due to termination, illness, or death. (It happens!)

8. You DON'T HAVE TO settle for a subpar experience

If you are not getting what you need in supervision, make sure to say something. Your supervisor will likely be able to explain his methods or adjust them so they suit you better. However, if discussing the issue with your supervisor doesn’t resolve the problem, you might want to consider finding someone else.

If you feel disrespected, unsupported, or if correction is emphasized over teaching and encouragement, please look for another supervisor. The purpose of supervision is to increase your skills and confidence as a practitioner. Supervision is an investment in your career. Make sure you get the experience you need to become an amazing counselor!

Looking for a Qualified Supervisor in SWFL? Let's talk!

Click the button below to schedule a free phone consultation

Disclaimer: I am a Qualified Supervisor for Registered Mental Health Counseling Interns in the state of Florida. Much of this article will apply to registered interns in other states, but there may be some aspects that differ if you are seeking licensure outside of Florida. Check with the Board in your state to make sure you are following their guidelines. 


8 Things I Wish I Knew as a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern | dianemunoz.com
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