Clinical Director vs Clinical Supervisor: What’s the Difference?

online clinical supervision benefits motivo

You’ve been professionally licensed and working with clients in private practice or community mental health for a few years, and while you still love your work, you’re ready for a challenge or to add some variety to your day. 

In searching for that next step, two possibilities keep coming up: Clinical Director and Clinical Supervisor – but, what’s the difference!? And why do these two distinct terms often seem so interchangeable? 

The short answer can be boiled down to one word: Administration. A Clinical Director’s work focuses on the administration, management, and policies of the workplace as a whole, whereas a Clinical Supervisor is responsible for the growth and development of specific individuals at the workplace. And if these roles aren’t clearly defined, it’s easy to see where confusion can creep in.

Clinical Directors

Clinical Directors are most often part of the management and leadership team. They are responsible for budgetary oversight, personnel policies, and managing and reviewing the efficacy of any internal programs. 

A Clinical Director may or may not have had experience providing therapeutic services to clients, but strong communication and mentoring skills are required to maintain employee morale, job satisfaction, and provide performance review. 

From areas of technology to operations, Clinical Directors are tasked with building and maintaining the framework necessary to create an effective, functioning healthcare organization.

Clinical Supervisors

Clinical Supervisors, on the other hand, oversee the casework and development of therapists, counselors, or social workers. They are also therapists, counselors, or social workers and thus require various licenses and credentials depending on their licensure type. 

Clinical Supervisors also operate in a supportive, mentoring role, however, they supervise with the goal of deepening a supervisees’ overall awareness, encourage continued education and intervention practice, and they aim to help build confidence in the room. 

Clinical Supervisors often attend to softer skills and areas of vulnerability, such as imposter syndrome, countertransference, and self-of-the-therapist. In that respect, the emphasis is placed on creating a trusting, stable relationship to foster a sense of safety and facilitate growth. 

At Motivo, we provide the tools necessary to thrive as an effective Clinical Tele-supervisor. Our platform is HIPAA-compliant and allows for document sharing and uploading, as well as tracking tools for record-keeping. Put another way, it would make your Clinical Director happy. 

Are you interested in taking the next step to become a Clinical Supervisor or Clinical Director and think Motivo could help? Let us know! Email Rachel McCrickard,, to learn more.

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT

Rachel is the CEO & Founder of Motivo, a HIPAA-compliant video platform connecting mental health therapists to the clinical supervision hours needed for licensure. She's also a LMFT, and brings her years of experience as both a therapist and a supervisor to her vision for Motivo. She also is a huge fan of pizza and yoga, in that order.

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