Are you ready to take on a new supervisee?  Maybe you are new to Supervision or have been burned a bit in the past? Maybe you are looking for professional growth? You get the call or email requesting your services. What an honor. How can you adequately assess the positive potential of forming this new and important relationship?  This article provides tips on evaluating art therapy credential candidates’ readiness for supervision, potential for professional competency and success.

Our choice to become an art therapy supervisor originates from many places. Apart from the fame and fortune, it’s a way of giving back to our profession, validating our own good work and ensuring the growth of qualified credentialed professional art therapists.   Muhammad Ali once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” You may enjoy the rewards of sharing your experience with others. More importantly, your supervisory role is a way of serving the public by developing ethical and competent art therapists. For myself, I have had a personal mission to increase the numbers of qualified art therapy professional counselors in underserved areas of south Texas. Whatever your intent, your hopeful and eager art therapy graduate seeking your supervision is likely to be in a quandary navigating the credentialing and licensing requirements to jump start their art therapy counseling career.

Caren Sacks points out, “There are different aspects to supervision.  Both parties are aware that the supervisor is a role model, one who guides and oversees the quality of client care and can provide support in managing and attending to administrative duties as well as support, encouragement and direction for professional development, enhancement of clinical skills and growth as an art therapist.” The responsibility of a supervisor must be taken very seriously. Your guidance (or omission of) will impact your supervisee in so many ways including how they develop their livelihoods.  In some cases, your oversights may send a red flare to your own credentialing board or professional reputation in your community.

The ATCB Code of Ethics, Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures, 1.3 Responsibility to Students and Supervisees outlines specific roles and behaviors a Supervisor must comply with. As in the State of Texas LPC Rules and Regulations, 681.93 Supervisor Requirements, “(e) the full professional responsibility for the counseling activities of an LPC Intern shall rest with the intern’s board approved supervisor(s).” With that in mind, a careful review of a potential supervisee’s background and professional goals should be assessed before moving into this long term relationship.

Let’s Start at the beginning…

Before you meet in person, ask the supervisee by phone or email who referred you or why they chose to contact you. Request that they send or bring a resume, proof of academic training, and art portfolio electronically or to the initial meeting.  Knowing they have record of their course syllabi is essential. Some academic programs have courses that may not clearly translate as meeting ATCB criteria,  if your candidate is in a state that requires licensure there is another layer of rules and regulations that must be met.

Your potential supervisee arrives for your first in-person interview. Here is where you ascertain strengths and weakness through your candidate’s level of competency and commitment. Allow this candidate to begin with questions for you.  This will give you a clue as to how much research and knowledge they have about the credential they want to pursue.  In Lawrence M. Brammer’s book, The Helping Relationship, he identifies positive characteristics of a counseling professional. Does your interviewee project a sense of self-awareness, values, strong ethics, altruism, responsibility and qualities to be a role model? Does this individual see potential clients as able rather than unable to solve their own problems? These qualities will determine how they will react to the challenges of meeting extensive criteria in the credentialing process. Interview questions below may give you the answers to these points.

  • What has been your most meaningful past work and volunteer experience?
  • How far do you want to go professionally and academically?
  • How do you feel about taking the Art Therapy Credential Board Exam?
  • Are you interested in attaining the ATR-Provisional?
  • Are you or do you plan to become a member of a professional organization?
  • Do you have a site in which to gain hours? Will you need help in this area? What contacts have you already made?
  • What is your dream job?-private practice, agency, school setting, hospital etc. What are you willing to do to attain that dream job, i.e. volunteer work, proposal writing? Making contacts, moving locations?
  • Do you have a time line?
  • Do you have the resources and support to manage this journey to full credentialing and employment? Are you willing to take more coursework if necessary?
  • Are you aware of the salary range for what you want to do and is that satisfactory?
  • What type of art do you create? What is your experience as an artist?

It is important that your potential supervisee understands that entering a professional relationship is a liability to you and your credentials and hence why a contract is put into place.  They need to know they have protections too wherein you refer to the ATCB Code of Ethics.

A contract is essential in forming any exchange of services.  This will include general rules and regulations set forth in code of ethics and if appropriate required for state licensure.  Written clarification on the frequency, nature, set up and cancellation policies of supervisory meetings assures proper adherence from the start. An open discussion on financial arrangements and written policies on termination from either party is a must.

Finally, at the end of the interview encourage a time of reflection on both parts.  I ask myself three questions about the interviewee.

  1. What is my gut feeling about this new professional?
  2. Does this professional represent the standards and mission set forth in the ATCB code of professional practice?
  3. Would I refer a client to this person?

If the potential for a yes exists, set a solution-focused plan for any deficiencies to meet criteria. Write an action plan with your new supervisee.  Encourage them to see this as the life practice of a professional. Most importantly, validate their strengths; remind them that the goal is reachable but patience and sacrifice is included.  It is helpful to parallel this to the goals we set forth with our clients.  If these points are covered and accomplished…Get on your mark, get set, Get ready, Go Supervise.


American Art Therapy Association, (2017) State Advocacy  

Brohl, Katheryn, (2018) Strength-Based Supervision

Common Wealth of Kentucky, (2016) Public Protection Cabinet

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (2018) The Pennsylvania Code

New Jersey Legislature, (2018) Art Therapy Licensing Act

Written by:

Deborah Murphy
Secretary, Art Therapy Credentials Board