After I graduated with my MSW my first job was at an outpatient pediatric center that served mostly low-income children and families. In this job, I was managed by a nurse and not a Social Worker. Despite the fact that my manager was a good nurse it became obvious after several complex cases that I needed another Social Worker to help me work through some of my cases. I decided to pursue training supervision* toward my independent licensure and began the process of finding a supervisor that I not only “clicked” with, but also one that I could afford. When I was able to locate a supervisor I felt was a good fit we began a two-year professional relationship working toward my certification. Ten years and several career advancements later, what I can say is that pursuing supervision was one of the best professional decisions I’ve ever made.
Improves Clinical Skills
The most obvious reason I’ve seen Social Workers chose to pursue training supervision is to improve their clinical skills in the field. When a Social Worker works with a supervisor presumably they are continuing to increase their knowledge and hone their craft. This ensures the Social Worker continues to grow without becoming professionally stagnant which is vital to longevity in a career that can be quite emotionally taxing. One of the many clinical skills that I was able to improve upon in supervision was my listening skills which have served me well over the years.
Provides Professional and Emotional Support
As most Social Workers know, the emotional tax involved in the Social Work profession is another reason why training supervision is so important. Regular supervision can provide Social Workers with professional and emotional support in a space that is ethically safe to discuss difficult and trying cases. Training supervision can also help Social Workers identify when they need to take time for self-care, in addition to helping them identify positive self-care activities. Several cases I was involved in I suffered from countertransference. This was something I was unable to see but my supervisor was able to point out to me and help me work through.
Increases Professional Network
Increasing a professional network is another reason Social Workers should seek training supervision. Whether a Social Worker receives supervision in or out of the workplace they are certain to meet individuals they may not have if not for supervision. During my supervision sessions, I was included in several group sessions where I met a fellow Social Worker who worked for the Veterans Administration, because of my work with pediatrics at the time I would never have met this colleague if not for supervision. This new colleague became a good professional friend and resource for many years and we appreciated the different perspectives we each brought to the table when reviewing our cases.
Lasting Professional Reference
Acquiring enough supervision hours to achieve clinical level licensure takes a time commitment on the part of both the Social Worker and the Supervisor. As a result, a supervisor should be one of the best professional references and resources available to a Social Worker. For example, almost 10 years after the fact I still reach out to my supervisor for professional references when needed, and now when I supervise Social Workers I anticipate that part of my role will be as a reference for them moving forward.
Return on Investment
Lastly, Social Workers who achieve clinical level licensure can expect a return on their investment. Whether a current role does or does not require advanced licensure, the opportunities that are open to Social Workers with advanced licensure are numerous. From becoming members of management to opening their own counseling practice, to providing supervision to other Social Workers the opportunity for earning additional income are most certainly available to those who have taken the time to pursue this credential. So whether you receive supervision free through your workplace or you pay for supervision outside of work you can expect to see your time and money returned time and again over the course of your career. Social Workers interested in pursuing training supervision should contact their state NASW chapter and state licensing board as they likely have a list of professionals able to provide supervision.
***This article written and shared with permission from Ashley Bush and the original is found at http://besupervised.blogspot.com/2018/08/5-reasons-why-social-workers-should.html ***