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Nov 10, 2023

Keeping up with Compliance Rules for Clinical Supervision at Mental Health Organizations

Clinical supervision regulations change on a regular basis, especially post-pandemic. How do you keep your org compliant?

HerMaya Onunwor, DSW, LISW-S

Senior Director of Compliance and Training

Whether you run a large mental health organization or a small private practice, you already know the importance and the difficulty of maintaining compliance.

Compliance rules and regulations are designed to ensure that minimum standards are followed. They're set by each state and are always subject to change.

Clinical supervision is one category that's highly regulated in most states. This makes sense because clinical supervisors are directly responsible for helping new therapists put into practice the concepts they learned in school. They also help those therapists perform the challenging yet essential self-work needed to become an excellent clinician.

But clinical supervision rules are quickly changing in many states, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Understanding Virtual Clinical Supervision

Traditionally, clinical supervision was provided face-to-face and one-on-one. Clinical supervisors frequently met in person with supervisees to meet licensure requirements. Some licensure boards would specify that in-person supervision meant that supervisors and supervisees must be physically present.

But the pandemic forced legislation to evaluate the rules and regulations of current supervision practices. Shelter-in-place orders meant businesses of all types, including mental health organizations, had to move their operations online. Many states passed emergency rules that expanded telehealth and allowed clinical supervision to occur virtually. Though shutdowns are now a thing of the past, many states have opted to allow virtual clinical supervision to continue.

There are several benefits to virtual supervision, along with distinct challenges. Supervisors and supervisees no longer need to be in the same physical space. Supervision can continue as normal even when one party travels, has car trouble, or faces unexpected childcare concerns.

But your organization must ensure both parties have the tools they need for success, including high-speed internet and devices with sufficient technological capacities. You also need to educate your supervisors on best practices for conducting virtual supervision.

With the current therapist shortage, freeing staff members to provide clinical supervision can take time and effort. Attempting to train all your staff members on the details of virtual supervision can be time-consuming and overwhelming for both staff and resources, which could ultimately impact your clients’ care.

Instead, train new supervisees by partnering with an organization such as Motivo, which has the resources to manage your training. Motivo connects you with a large network of fully licensed clinical supervisors in your state who are experts at virtual supervision.

Virtual Clinical Supervision and State Board Regulations

State boards govern virtual clinical supervision, and the rules are always subject to change. Remember that your organization’s clinical supervision program must follow supervision regulations, as well as those that specifically govern virtual supervision.  (e.g., HIPAA privacy laws).

How to Follow Compliance Rules

Following compliance rules can be manageable. You'll need to learn the rules for your state, frequently check for any updates or changes, and develop a system to apply and share those rules with your mental health organizations.

The more streamlined your process is, the easier it will be to remain compliant.

Get to Know Each State’s Requirements

If you want to offer virtual clinical supervision, your first step is to get to know the state board regulations in your state, which may vary by specialty. For example, Mississippi allows virtual supervision for 100% of direct supervision hours for Licensed Professional Counselors but only 25% of supervision hours for Licensed Clinical Social Workers.

Does My State Allow Virtual Supervision?

To learn whether your state allows virtual supervision, check with the state board for the specialization you want to supervise. Motivo offers a simplified, frequently-updated list of state regulations regarding virtual supervision here. Double-check the details and ensure you are up-to-date on the latest clinical supervision regulations and compliance rules.

Does the State Board Allow Contracted Supervisors?

As mentioned above, if your mental health organizations is stretched thin, you may want to partner with a clinical supervision provider like Motivo.

This partnership can take the pressure off your organization while offering top-quality supervision that meets all regulations in your state.

But first, you must ensure that your state allows you to use contracted supervisors. In most cases, contracted supervisors are allowed, provided they are licensed in the same state as your clinician (or fall under reciprocity rules). But it is always best to contact your state board for confirmation.

How to Simplify Each Ruling

Clinical supervision regulations are typically written in legalese, which can be difficult for non-lawyers to understand. We offer a plain-language understanding of each state’s virtual supervision rules and citations for each relevant passage.

Before offering virtual clinical supervision, always confirm these resources with your organization’s attorney or the state board.

Virtual clinical supervision can be highly useful for your organization, whether you offer it internally or partner with an outside company such as Motivo. But like all aspects of providing mental health services, virtual supervision presents its challenges, particularly in compliance. Learn the regulations for your state, and note any differences in the rules between the various specialties you might supervise. Regularly check for updates to the regulations, and you will be well on your way to providing this unique but increasingly more common opportunity.

How to Utilize Motivo for Virtual Clinical Supervision Needs

At Motivo, we know that there are only so many hours in a day and that making time for clinical supervision can be challenging, especially if you are considering a move to the virtual space. We offer a network of more than 1,000 experienced and dedicated clinical supervisors to large and small facilities, from community mental health centers to major hospitals nationwide. We know the rules and regulations surrounding virtual clinical supervision. Our Director of Compliance, HerMaya Onunwor, is ready to work with you to ensure you comply with your state’s requirements.

HerMaya Onunwor, DSW, LISW-S

Senior Director of Compliance and Training

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