October 4, 2022

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How Mental Health Organizations Use Virtual Clinical Supervision

October 4, 2022


By: Motivo Team

It‘s hard to find a suitable clinical supervisor for your organization. There may be a lack of compatible professionals in your area. Fortunately, clinical supervisors across the globe are using technology to improve and expand their services. Mental health organizations can tap into these technological advances to reap the benefits for both clinicians and clients. For example, treatment centers, hospital systems, and community agencies can access virtual clinical supervision for their employees. Read on to learn about finding supervisors who fit best your organization’s needs and values, so you’re not limited by the pool of local applicants

What is Virtual Clinical Supervision?

Virtual clinical supervision, or telesupervision, is a formal relationship between a licensed clinical supervisor and supervisee. The licensed clinician monitors and guides the supervisee via web conferencing, email, and telecommunication. Virtual supervision is flexible and adaptable for individual, dyad, or group formats. You can also have a hybrid model that is partly virtual and partly in-person depending on state requirements.


The Importance of Virtual in Today’s World

Remote work and virtual learning have exploded in recent years. So much so that industries have to go digital or risk being left in the dust. The good news is virtual tools provide a whole new level of productivity, collaboration, and management. With cloud-based technology, behavioral health agencies can communicate, collaborate, and share documents from anywhere in the world. Tele-supervision uses robust tools to expand options for pre-licensed therapists worldwide. For example, Motivo lets you find, book, and meet with quality supervisors all on one platform.  While virtual clinical supervision provides many benefits, it isn’t the same as meeting face-to-face. So, there may be an adjustment period for some employees. To ease that transition, management can provide a variety of training, resource guides, and open communication. 


Tele-supervision Best Practices

There’s much to consider before mental health organizations switch to virtual clinical supervision. Pre-licensed counselors who receive quality supervision go on to promote professionalism and ethics in the field. An article published in “Internet Interventions” outlines the effective use of technology in clinical supervision, including the following best practices:

  • Set clear goals and expectations
  • Remain flexible in telecommunication methods
  • Build a sound framework of educational principles
  • Create a backup plan for technical issues
  • Say attentive to communication
  • Protect online security and confidentiality 
  • Plan for additional time to deal with technical difficulties
  • Regularly go over the telesupervision agreement

4 Benefits of Using Virtual Clinical Supervision

The beauty of telesupervision is the broad availability of licensed clinical supervisors across various license types. This is especially beneficial to those living in rural areas where qualified supervisors are hard to come by. Likewise, web-based tools make telesupervision flexible and accessible. The benefits of virtual supervision include accessibility, documentation, flexibility, and scalability.

1. Accessibility 

Supervisees in remote areas may drive for hours to find a compatible supervisor. Virtual supervision provides an accessible option that reduces travel costs. Instead of being bogged down with travel,  supervisees have more time to work with clients. With a large pool of licensed supervisors, you can match your team with the right clinicians, not just the closest ones. 

2. Documentation

Online platforms leave a digital paper trail. For example, Motivo keeps a log of all sessions, duration, and notes. Time and date stamps on messages automatically create a record of communications between the supervisors and supervisees. Likewise, online platforms like Motivo keep track of data and hours. 

3. Flexibility 

Virtual supervision accommodates a variety of schedules and locations. For example, sessions can be synchronous via live video. That means you spend more time working with clients and less time traveling for supervision.

4. Scalability 

Tele-supervision is ideal for many mental health organizations because it scales so well. As a result, healthcare systems can increase the number of supervisees while marginally increasing resources and costs. For example, videoconferencing lends itself well to group supervision, where pre-licensed clinicians can present cases and learn from peers.

4 Barriers to Virtual Clinical Supervision

Virtual supervision poses challenges for some individuals. For example, unfamiliar platforms and changing tools could create roadblocks to the use of technology. Successful telesupervision happens by eliminating as many of these barriers as possible. Fortunately, behavioral health organizations can help employees by providing the necessary technology, training, and IT support.  

1. Unfamiliar Platforms

The rapid expansion of technology requires many employees to learn new skill sets. While most people understand the basics of online platforms, applications with robust features may require staff training. When employees have to use multiple different platforms, the learning curve is even higher. Mental health organizations can help the transition by offering employee training and professional development. 

2. Changing Technology

Older machines may struggle to match pace with modern technology and some clinicians are reluctant to experiment with new technology. For example, employees may avoid using their new webcam due to a lack of experience. To alleviate barriers, managers can nominate a “technology advisor” from the supervisee team. A tech-savvy peer can help those who have questions after the training. 

3. Technology Disparities

A digital divide exists between rich and poor, urban and rural. For example, many remote areas have inadequate broadband infrastructure. So, rural populations, who most benefit from viral clinical supervision, tend to have substandard internet and cell service. These barriers make telesupervision more problematic for some people than others. However, strong IT support from employers goes a long way in closing the technology gap. 

4. Legal Considerations

Virtual clinical supervision has a lot of legal issues to consider, such as confidentiality, state regulations, and data security. Likewise, some states require at least half of the hours to be conducted face-to-face. When practicing telesupervision, it’s crucial to ensure all communication complies with HIPAA regulations. Be sure to consult with legal advisors in your state.


How Motivo Can Help

Unfamiliar platforms and changing technology can deter some users. Fortunately, Motivo has one complete platform with everything you need for virtual clinical supervision. Once your team learns the ropes, they can book, schedule, and attend virtual sessions while digitally tracking supervision hours and documentation. Plus, Motivo is the first HIPAA-compliant platform for connecting pre-licensed therapists with clinical supervisors. 

 At Motivo, we have a range of supervisors from across the country, so you can find a qualified, licensed clinician in almost any field. In addition, when mental health agencies partner with Motivo for supervision, they free up their internal team to focus on clients. Learn more about how Motivo can help mental health organizations use virtual clinical supervision.

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