The Future of Clinical Supervision and Why We Are Taking It Online

Rachel McCrickard Motivo Online Clinical Supervision LMFT

For a therapist, getting your degree is actually the easy part.

It’s becoming licensed that is so hard.

When I was working toward my licensure, the closest clinical supervisor was hours away in Atlanta, GA.

Atlanta is one of those cities that outgrew itself. The population rose faster than the infrastructure.

So, when I would travel home to north Georgia after a three-hour supervision session in downtown Atlanta, my GPS would route me around the interstate parking lot through endless (and I mean endless) side streets.

A drive that should have taken me an hour and a half would undoubtedly take me three hours – every. single. week.

I stuck with it, collecting hour after hour, until finally I got that beautiful letter from the state board saying, “Rachel, you’re totally a therapist now.”

(It might have been slightly more official sounding than that, but you get what I mean.)

Those of us who have lived it know exactly what I’m talking about.

I have a friend who calls the years in between graduate school and licensure “pre-licensure purgatory.”

Yep. That’s exactly what those years feels like. 

I remember the counting (and recounting) of my hours.

How many hours do I have now?

How about now?

If I do three hours a week for 20 more weeks, I’ll be almost halfway there.

How many weeks left to go?

How about now?

Maybe I can find a group and get like six hours on a Saturday for 60 bucks.

Maybe I should ask my mom for supervision hours for Christmas.

Over time, it became less about developing my clinical skills, and more about the cheapest, quickest, easiest way to add another hour to my spreadsheet.

Although I truly enjoy the process of learning, the years between graduation and licensure just took so long. And, after a while, it began to feel like I was simply going through the motions.

I remember thinking, “I’ll worry about deepening my skills later. I can’t afford the supervision I would really want. I don’t even know any supervisors. Right now, I just need to take what I can get, get my license and start paying off these student loans – later I can work on becoming a really great therapist.”

How strange is that? The entire point of clinical supervision is to have a designated time period to develop our skills, to ask as many questions as possible, and to learn from seasoned role models in the field. These are the years to quite literally become a therapist.

Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple, for a few reasons:

1. Free supervision comes with its own price tag.

Many agencies provide free supervision as a perk of working with high-need, underserved clients. But, unfortunately, agency supervision tends to spend a disproportionate amount of time on administrative issues such as agency policies, billable hours, etc. Important things like practicing new skills and discussing self-of-the-therapist go largely ignored.

2. Good supervision is often cost-prohibitive.

Many supervisors charge their typical client rate for supervision. And wow, does that get expensive. I get it, the supervisor has earned the right to set their chosen hourly rate, but this often results in the supervisee having to limit themselves to an hour or two a month – which slows down the licensure process.

3. There is a shortage of supervisors in rural areas.

No surprise here – we all know there is a shortage of mental health providers in rural areas so, naturally, there’s a shortage of supervisors too. With the rise of quality online education, more new therapists are graduating in these rural areas – a wonderful thing for the growth of the profession. However, if these therapists don’t have access to a supervisor after graduation, they struggle with licensure. Unfortunately, this exact problem is what causes many therapists to choose another career altogether.

4. Supervisors are difficult to find.

Although a number of therapists provide supervision, this service is only advertised on their client-facing website. Directories exist but there’s often no way to see rates, specialties or to know if the supervisor is accepting new supervisees – unless you call each one of them.

A new path to licensure

All of this and more is why I created Motivo.

Many states have recently begun to allow supervision hours to be collected online, through secure video-conference.

And, if you think about it, the timing makes perfect sense.

Video technology has made substantial advancements in the past five years. Dropped video calls are becoming a thing of the past, which means that the feeling of being in the same room with the supervisor is now a (virtual) reality. Do you see what I did there?

Additionally, studies like this one and this one have revealed that the quality of video supervision is comparable to in-person supervision.

While these are great indicators of the potential for online supervision, perhaps the most important reason is the anecdotal evidence suggesting we are losing early career professionals before they even get started.

At Motivo, we often hear stories from pre-licensed therapists who tell us, “I was literally about to give up. It was just too hard, too expensive, too burdensome.”

For these budding therapists, online supervision isn’t just convenient; it’s essential.

55% of US counties, all rural, have no practicing mental health professionals (SAMHSA). Sadly, these are many of the same counties that are consumed by the opioid epidemic, and in desperate need of more providers.

As a profession, it is imperative that we evaluate, and re-evaluate, the pathway of new professionals into the field and make improvements where we can.

Online supervision harnesses the advancements of technology to create an easier, more efficient path to licensure.

Although we created Motivo with this purpose in mind, we are already learning that this medium does more than just increase access to supervisors.

For the first time, it puts the therapist in the driver seat of selecting the supervisor they most want to work with.

No longer limited by geographical barriers, therapists are able to choose from anyone in their state. This is a game-changer for clinical development. Just think about the type of therapists we could become if we have the opportunity to select from dozens of quality supervisors.

The word Motivo means “foundation” in Portuguese and we chose our name with intention.

Clinical supervision sets the very foundation of our careers. It should be a place where we begin defining our career paths, choosing modalities, and developing skills that enhance our impact.

Our vision at Motivo is to redefine clinical supervision for our profession.

We believe supervision should be accessible.

We believe supervision should be affordable.

We believe supervision should be a foundational, transformative experience.

Are you in? Let’s get started!

If you’re seeking your licensure, start here to see if there’s a supervisor in your state. If not, let us know, and we’ll find one for you. 

And if you are a licensed supervisor, we’re actively recruiting more supervisors so click here to get started supervising on Motivo.

Any additional questions? Submit your question here or reach out to me at rachel@wearemotivo.com. I’d love to help.

If you are an early-career therapist or a clinical supervisor YOU are exactly the reason I started this company. We need your help to change the landscape of clinical supervision in our profession.

Are you with us?

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT

Rachel is the CEO & Founder of Motivo, a HIPAA-compliant video platform connecting mental health therapists to the consultation hours needed for licensure. She's also a LMFT, and brings her years of experience as both a therapist and a supervisor to her vision for Motivo. She also is a huge fan of pizza and yoga, in that order.

Want the best advice on how to build your dream therapy career?

Every week, we publish articles that will motivate, inspire, and tackle some aspect of the therapy career journey — whether that’s licensure, clinical supervision, or even private practice!

Sign up to the right to get updates whenever we publish something new and inspirational 👉