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Supervision Requirements for Every Category of Licensed Associate

Question: I am one of four clinicians at my agency who are trying to get things together for licensing. My question is does our approved supervisor need to be licensed with the same type of license we will be applying for. For example: I will be applying to be a LMHC. Does my supervisor also have to be a LMHC, or can they be a LICSW or a Licensed Psychiatrist? We have tried to get an answer from the department of health... but did not have much luck. Any information would be much appreciated.

Thanks! Mary


Dear Mary in Longview WA:

Don't be too hard on the Health Department. They too have been hit with budget cuts, and lack the staff to reply to all the requests they receive. And they are also prohibited from giving legal advice, and thus retrained in their ability to reply to certain questions. While I do not presume to give legal advice, I can point you to sections of the administrative code which pertain to your inquiry.

Each of the professions has made their own national standards part of the Washington law and so the requirements for mental health counselors, marriage and family counselors and social workers are slightly different. The sections below are from the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) governing counselor licensure and the specific requirements for each category of licensed associate. [Emphasis and italics are added by this writer.] Start with definitions used in these chapters.


WAC 246-809-010 Definitions.

The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

(1) "Associate" means a prelicensure candidate who has a graduate degree in a mental health field under RCW 18.225.090 and is gaining the supervision and supervised experience necessary to become a licensed independent clinical social worker, a licensed advanced social worker, a licensed mental health counselor, or a licensed marriage and family therapist. Associates may not independently provide social work, mental health counseling, or marriage and family therapy for a fee, monetary or otherwise. Associates must work under the supervision of an approved supervisor.

(2) "Independent social work, mental health counseling, or marriage and family therapy" means the practice of these disciplines without being under the supervision of an approved supervisor.

(3) "Licensed counselor" means a licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor, licensed advanced social worker, or licensed independent clinical social worker regulated under chapter 18.225 RCW.


MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST ASSOCIATES

WAC 246-809-130 Supervised postgraduate experience.

The experience requirements for the marriage and family therapist applicant's practice area include successful completion of a supervised experience requirement. The experience requirement consists of a minimum of two calendar years of full-time marriage and family therapy. Of the total supervision, one hundred hours must be with a licensed marriage and family therapist with at least five years' clinical experience; the other one hundred hours may be with an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner. Total experience requirements include:

(1) A minimum of three thousand hours of experience, one thousand hours of which must be direct client contact; at least five hundred hours must be gained in diagnosing and treating couples and families; plus

(2) At least two hundred hours of qualified supervision with an approved supervisor. At least one hundred of the two hundred hours must be one-on-one supervision, and the remaining hours may be in one-on-one or group supervision.

(3) Applicants who have completed a master's program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy may be credited with five hundred hours of direct client contact and one hundred hours of formal meetings with an approved supervisor.

(4) Licensed marriage and family therapist associate applicants are not required to have supervised postgraduate experience prior to becoming an associate.

(5) Licensed marriage and family therapist associate applicants must declare they are working towards full licensure.


MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR ASSOCIATE

WAC 246-809-230 Supervised postgraduate experience.

(1) The experience requirements for the mental health applicant's practice area include successful completion of a supervised experience requirement. The experience requirement consists of a minimum of thirty-six months full-time counseling or three thousand hours of postgraduate mental health counseling under the supervision of a qualified licensed mental health counselor or equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner in an approved setting. The three thousand hours of required experience includes a minimum of one hundred hours spent in immediate supervision with the qualified licensed mental health counselor or equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner, and includes a minimum of one thousand two hundred hours of direct counseling with individuals, couples, families, or groups.

(2) Applicants who have completed a master's or doctoral program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) will be credited with fifty hours of postgraduate supervision and five hundred hours of postgraduate experience.

(3) Applicants for licensed mental health counselor associate are not required to have supervised postgraduate experience prior to becoming an associate.

(4) Licensed mental health counselor associate applicants must declare they are working toward full licensure.


SOCIAL WORK ASSOCIATE

WAC 246-809-320: Education requirements and supervised postgraduate experience.

(1) The following are the education requirements for the social worker applicant's practice area:

(a) Licensed advanced social worker or licensed social worker associate-advanced. Graduation from a master's or doctoral social work educational program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.

(b) Licensed independent clinical social worker or licensed social worker associate-independent clinical. Graduation from a master's or doctorate level social work educational program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.

(2) The following are the supervised postgraduate experience requirements for the social worker applicant's practice area:

(a) Licensed advanced social worker must have successful completion of a supervised experience requirement. The experience requirement consists of a minimum of three thousand two hundred hours with ninety hours of supervision by a licensed independent clinical social worker or a licensed advanced social worker who has been licensed or certified for at least two years. Of those hours, fifty hours must include direct supervision by a licensed advanced social worker or licensed independent clinical social worker; the other forty hours may be with an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner. Forty hours must be in one-to-one supervision and fifty hours may be in one-to-one supervision or group supervision. Distance supervision is limited to forty supervision hours. Eight hundred hours must be in direct client contact.

(b) Licensed independent clinical social worker. Successful completion of a supervised experience requirement. The experience requirement consists of a minimum of four thousand hours of experience, of which one thousand hours must be direct client contact, over a three-year period supervised by a licensed independent clinical social worker, with supervision of at least one hundred thirty hours by a licensed mental health practitioner. Of the total supervision, seventy hours must be with an independent clinical social worker; the other sixty hours may be with an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner. Sixty hours must be in one-to-one supervision and seventy hours may be in one-to-one supervision or group supervision. Distance supervision is limited to sixty supervision hours.

(3) Licensed social worker associate-advanced and licensed social worker associate-independent clinical applicants are not required to have supervised postgraduate experience prior to becoming an associate.

(4) Licensed social worker associate-advanced and licensed social worker associate-independent clinical applicants must declare they are working toward full licensure.


Webmasters Note: That 1,000 hours of direct client contact in a three year period sounds really scary, but--unless my computations are incorrect--that would be 1,000 hours divided by 3 years = 333.3 client contact hours per year which, divided by 12 = 12.7 direct client contact hours per month which, divided by an average 4.3 weeks per month = 6.46 direct client hours per week. You can do that!

ALSO, please read the above information carefully and separate in your mind the concepts of "hours of experience," "hours of direct client contact," and "hours of supervision," (which include "one-to-one supervision hours," "group supervision hours," and possibly "distance supervision hours." All these requirements are confusing which is one of the things that a good supervisor can help you sort out.

Give special note to the phrase, "equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner." The phrase is not formally defined in the WAC, but it is used in the same way in all three sections and would appear to acknowledge that each type of mental health professional is equal to another type with the same minimum years of experience.

Hope this helps.

Floyd Else, MA, LMHC, NCC
Webmaster

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