Roles and Responsibilities of Supervisors

Supervisors wear many hats and juggle numerous responsibilities. It is helpful to conceptualize the hats that supervisors wear by considering the multifaceted nature of the supervisory relationship. Supervisors act as gatekeepers to clinically licensed practice; thus, evaluating the power dynamic between the dyad is critical. Supervisors must be mindful of boundaries and transference issues within the relationship. Although many aspects of supervision overlap with aspects of psychotherapy, the supervisor must be aware of places where the supervisee may need additional therapeutic work and refer out for treatment (Kadushin, 1976, 2002; Tsui, 2005; Englebrecht, 2019). Clinical supervisors teach skills, coach, consult, and mentor. Knowing what the supervisee needs at any given time is a struggle many supervisors report. Open communication assists with transparency and a positive supervisory experience for both parties. The roles of the clinical supervisor are conceptualized below.


(SAMHSA, 2009)

Teachers facilitate learning and developing supervisees’ competencies through activities focused on skill development and theoretical knowledge base.

Consultants provide case reviews, collaborate on treatment plans and conceptualizations, and oversee the supervisee’s performance.

Coaches provide support and encouragement. They model and assess the strengths and growth areas of the supervisee. The coaching role helps prevent burnout.

Mentors use role modeling to teach, guide, and promote the supervisee’s overall development as a professional.

Supervisor Responsibilities

Supervisors are responsible to the supervisee, the organization, the social work profession, and most importantly, the client. The responsibilities below are an evidence-based starting point for quality supervision. New graduates or individuals new to supervision can utilize this information to help assess their progress (Sewall, 2017).

  • Uphold ethical guidelines established by the profession
  • Oversee supervisee’s cases to ensure client welfare
  • Model ethical and professional behavior and competencies
  • Aid in developing case formulations, treatment plans, and monitoring intervention efficacy
  • Monitor and support the supervisee’s growth and development as a clinician
  • Help the supervisee achieve their goals as listed on the competency form
  • Tie clinical work to theory
  • Be culturally sensitive and competent; seek supervision or consultation as necessary
  • Take time to care for themselves


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Guidebook for Clinical Supervision in Nebraska Copyright © 2022 by Susan Reay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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