How Being an Ally Shows up in Clinical Supervision with Angela Brooks-Livingston | POP 925

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Have you ever had tough supervision experiences, or with supervisees? How can you re-approach supervision so that it benefits everyone involved? What can you do to advocate for social justice from within agencies and working as a supervisor?

In this podcast episode, Andrew Burdette speaks about how being an ally shows up in clinical supervision with Angela Brooks-Livingston.

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Meet Angela Brooks-Livingston

A photo of Angela Brooks-Livingston is captured. She is currently serving Wilkes County as a private practitioner. Angela is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Angela Brooks-Livingston is currently serving Wilkes County as a private practitioner. They are a graduate of Appalachian State University Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s program with a concentration in Marriage and Family therapy, and certificates in Addictions Counseling and Expressive Arts Therapy.

Angela specializes in working with the LGBTGEQIA+ community, in particular transgender and gender-expansive clients. They teach at Appalachian State University as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Counseling, Family Therapy, and Higher Education and as a Practitioner Instructor for Wake Forest University.

Connect with Angela on LinkedIn and Psychology Today.

In this Podcast

  • Coming to work in supervision
  • Admin supervision to clinical supervision
  • How to select supervises
  • What to have in place to handle a crisis in supervision
  • How to be an ally in supervision

Coming to work in supervision

Angela noticed a pull to supervision when she was still in school. She knew that it was a path that she wanted to pursue, and looked for courses to take. She had also had experience as a site supervisor and had worked with practical intern students before.

Students were saying they liked the way I did supervision, they liked my style. They felt comfortable in coming to supervision, appreciated how I gave feedback, and so it just felt like a natural progression. (Angela Brooks-Livingston)

Angela felt that it was a way that she could give back to the field, by being a supervisor and supervising new and upcoming therapists to empower them with the necessary skills.

Admin supervision to clinical supervision

Since Angela had experience from an admin supervision background, it helped her to put her clinical supervision knowledge in place. With administrative supervision, Angela made sure that people remembered to complete their notes and that treatment plans were made ready, things were audited as they should be, and so forth.

Doing more of holding people accountable, and giving feedback and things like that, related to direction from the agency, policies that we have in place, or requirements from … the state. (Angela Brooks-Livingston)

With being a clinical supervisor as well, Angela had to balance the two types of supervision. Sometimes she had to make a distinction between which role she was stepping into when working with a therapist she was taking care of.

It’s a dance between serving what you need to as an admin supervisor that’s connected to getting paid and keeping the agency afloat … and then the clinical supervision is about the gatekeeping of the field. If I put my name on that final supervision board and say, “Yes, I recommend this person as an unrestricted licensed therapist”, that’s a big deal, and I want to make sure that I can be confident to do that. (Angela Brooks-Livingston)

How to select supervisees

Angela’s process looks like this:

  1. Meeting with the supervisees for a free consultation for 30 minutes
  2. They discuss: Any jobs the supervisee has potentially lined up Which client population they like or want to work with Past supervisor experience
  3. What the supervisee needs and wants from the supervisor
  4. Angela will share her expertise
  5. Pay attention to your gut and intuition when choosing a supervisee as well

What to have in place to handle a crisis in supervision

One of the most important things that you need to figure out is what you are going to do in moments of crisis. How are you going to manage crises, or would the clinicians in your practice be responsible for their own clients?

What’s the plan for the practice, and how has that been communicated to clients? Is that on all your documentation, is that on your voice [mail] … How is it communicated to clients, and how often can they access that? (Angela Brooks-Livingston)

As the supervisor, you need to teach your supervisees how and what to do to manage a crisis situation. Additionally, you have to make sure that the consent document regarding the client has been given for the purpose of supervision, stating that they know and are aware. It’s important to remember for any therapist that wants to become a supervisor that it’s not that simple because it requires a slightly different approach to simply being a counsellor.

You can be a phenomenal counselor and be a shitty supervisor. It’s different, and just because you’re a phenomenal counselor doesn’t mean that you need to be a supervisor. (Angela Brooks-Livingston)

How to be an ally in supervision

Within ethics, every supervisor is called to be culturally competent and to advocate for social justice. This is expected from mental health professionals all over the world, not just those who are supervisors. This can put therapists in a tough place since advocacy is fairly public, but it is part of the job, and necessary to do.

Small advocacies, even for one client or for one group, can be vital. Consider adding more inclusivity in your client’s intake forms, which is a small form of advocacy and social justice.

In supervision, where can you advocate within the agency and support the therapists who do?

Get good quality supervision training, and if you can, get someone to supervise you at the beginning of your supervision as well.

Be critical of the trainings you look at. There are some supervision trainings that are not … quality. They’re not going to teach you how to do supervision … You should have supervision of your supervision. (Angela Brooks-Livingston)

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Are you ready to leave the field? Avoiding burnout with Dr. Jen Blanchette | POP Bonus Episode

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Meet Joe Sanok

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Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners who are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

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