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Standards & Responsibilities of Approved Supervisors

WAC 246-809-334
Approved Supervisor Standards and Responsibilities:

(1) The approved supervisor must hold a license without restrictions that has been in good standing for at least two years.
(2) The approved supervisor shall not be a blood or legal relative or cohabitant of the licensure candidate, licensure candidate's peer, or someone who has acted as the licensure candidate's therapist within the past two years.
(3) The approved supervisor, prior to the commencement of any supervision, shall provide the licensure candidate a declaration, on a form provided by the department, that the supervisor has met the requirements of WAC 246-809-334 and qualifies as an approved supervisor.
(4) The approved supervisor shall have completed the following:
(a) A minimum of fifteen clock hours of training in clinical supervision obtained through:
(i) A supervision course; or
(ii) Continuing education credits on supervision; or
(iii) Supervision of supervision; and
(b) Twenty-five hours of experience in supervision of clinical practice; and
(c) Has had two years of clinical experience post-licensure (LASWs only) or two years of clinical experience post-licensure (for LICSWs only).
(5) The approved supervisor shall attest to having thorough knowledge of the licensure candidate's practice activities including:
(a) Specific practice setting;
(b) Recordkeeping;
(c) Financial management;
(d) Ethics of clinical practice; and
(e) The licensure candidate's backup plan for coverage in times when he/she is not available to their clients.
(6) Licensure candidates whose supervised postgraduate experience began prior to the effective date of these rules are exempt from the requirements of subsection (4) of this section.

Frequently Asked Questions on Becoming an Approved Supervisor for LICSW and LASW Candidates

Laura Groshong, WSSCSW Legislative Chair


1. When did the Approved Supervision Rule go into effect?
This Rule went into effect on September 29, 2006.

2. Does the Rule affect supervision begun prior to September 29, 2006?
Any supervision begun prior to this date for purposes of licensure can be continued until completion. Any supervision begun after this date must be with an Approved Supervisor who meets the criteria stated in WAC 246-809-334.

3. What are the requirements for becoming an Approved Supervisor?

They include 2 years of clinical experience (post-MSW); 1 years of supervision experience (in an agency or elsewhere); and either 15 hours of training in coursework or seminars in supervision, or supervision of supervision by an approved supervisor for one year (25 hours).

4. Can coursework or seminars in supervision be counted as part of the LICSW/LASW CEU requirement?

Yes, if the course or seminar is approved by one of the groups named in the Continuing Education Rule.

5. Are there LICSWs who have met the requirements for Approved Supervisor who will not be allowed to be one for an LICSW applicant?

Yes. Anyone who is a blood relation to a supervisee, a ‘peer’, i.e., having the same job title at the same level as the supervisee, or a former therapist of the supervisee in the previous two years, may not supervise an LICSW applicant.

6. Is it possible to substitute ‘supervision of supervision’ by an Approved Supervisor for the 15 hours of training in supervision?

Yes. See #3 above.

7. How often does an Approved Supervisor need to get 15 hours of training in supervision or one year of supervision in supervision?

This requirement needs to be met only once, though best practices as a supervisor would include occasional continuing education in supervision.

8. If an LICSW received 15 hours of training in supervision prior to the Rule being adopted, does that person need to do it again?

No, if they will attest to having received the training (see #13 below.) It may be necessary to produce proof of training if the supervisee has a complaint filed against him or her as well as the supervisor.

9. What is the liability of an Approved Supervisor for the actions of the supervisee?

There is no liability through the licensure law for LICSWs, as it would conflict with other parts of state law. However, a best practice would be for an Approved Supervisor to consider any action taken by the supervisee that has been discussed with the supervisor, as potential grounds for the supervisor being held liable for the actions of the supervisee.

10. Is an LICSW covered through his or her malpractice insurance for the actions of their supervisee and any lawsuits which may result from these actions?

The prudent clinician would get a rider stating he or she is covered for any actions taken in their role as a supervisor by their supervisees. Best practices recommend the liability limits for the supervisor and supervisee be the same and that each person have a copy of the other's insurance.

11. Is there a contract that must be signed by the Approved Supervisor and supervisee?

There is no official contract from Department of Health. WSSCSW recommends the use of a signed contract to protect both parties.*

12. Is there a ‘Proof of Supervision’ document that must be signed by the supervisor and supervisee?

Yes. This document can be found at the Department of Health website as part of the LICSW/LASW Application materials.

13. Is there a place where LICSWs who are Approved Supervisors should indicate they have met the criteria for being and Approved Supervisor?

Yes, at the Department of Health website, https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/hpqa1/hps7/Social_Worker/documents/670-091.pdf .

14. Why would an LICSW applicant get private supervision, as well as being supervised in an agency?

An agency supervisor may not be an Approved Supervisor and/or an LICSW, which is required for 70 hours of approved supervisory experience. Additionally, an agency supervisor may not have the amount of time needed to allow the applicant to meet the requirement for licensure. Finally, the agency supervisor may be a peer or relative. There is a long tradition nationally of social work licensure applicants buying their own supervision to achieve licensure. WSSCSW has created a list of Approved Supervisors who are willing to provide supervision to licensure candidates who are Society members at reduced fees.

15. How are treatment decisions made if an LICSW applicant has a supervisor in an agency, and also gets supervision privately?

The agency supervisor has final authority if there is a conflict between the two supervisors. Best practices suggest a contract be signed by the agency supervisor, private supervisor, and supervisee.*

16. What happens if a supervisee refuses to follow the guidance of the Approved Supervisor?

An Approved Supervisor and supervisee need to assess whether they can work together, in a similar manner to the way therapist and patient do. Best practices involve a good working relationship between the supervisee and supervisor. The best way to ensure this kind of relationship is by an understanding by both parties of their separate and joint responsibilities, and potential liabilities. If communication breaks down between a supervisor and supervisee to the point that they can no longer work with each other, best practices recommend the relationship be severed, with documentation as to why the relationship ended.

17. Are there situations where an Approved Supervisor should ‘take over’ a supervisee’s case as therapist?

Social work best practices do not recommend that a supervisor ‘take over’ a case when a supervisor and supervisee disagree on how the case should be handled, or the supervisee is unable to continue as therapist. A referral to a new Approved Supervisor should be made if the supervisory relationship is not working for the supervisory couple.

17. Does an Approved Supervisor need to have a consent form signed by the patient of the supervisee to act as supervisor?

No, and social work best practices would not advise this.

18. Does a supervisee need to let the patient know that they are in training?

Yes, according to social work best practices. This could be done in the Disclosure Statement required by the state, or in an additional document.*

19. What else should be in the Disclosure Statement of the supervisee?

All disclosure information required by RCW 18.19 for Registered Counselors, as well as a statement about having where and when the supervisee received an MSW.*

20. Does an Approved Supervisor need to give a Disclosure Statement to supervisees?

Best practices recommend that the supervisor show that he or she has met the requirements for being an Approved Supervisor. This may be done in a Supervisor Disclosure Form or in another document.*

21. Are professional organizations responsible for the actions of an Approved Supervisor?

No, but they may be consulted if there is a question about standards of practice for supervision of clinical social work applicants.

* = WSSCSW has created sample forms to cover this area. Contact Laura Groshong at www.lauragroshong.org for information about these forms.

Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work
PO Box 252 • Everett, WA  98206 • admin@wsscsw.org


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