Tammy Linseisen, MSSW ’89, was one of the main forces behind the inaugural Texas Clinical Supervision Conference, which in Fall 2017 gave a multidisciplinary group of practitioners — from social workers to counselors and family therapists — the opportunity to enhance supervision skills and knowledge. Linseisen, who has been teaching at the school since 1998, regularly conducts the training “The Art of Clinical Supervision,” a 40-hour series that meets Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners’ requirements to supervise candidates for clinical licensure.
WHAT IS CLINICAL SUPERVISION? Clinical supervision is the art of supporting and challenging beginning therapists in order to teach and mentor them to become skilled, theoretically grounded and empathic clinical social workers. More pragmatically, clinical supervision is one of the independent services that qualified licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) are authorized to provide.
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A CLINICAL SUPERVISOR IN TEXAS? Well, obviously you must have your LCSW, which means that you went through the process of supervision yourself — one of the requirements to become an LCSW is at least 24 months of clinical supervision by a board-approved supervisor. You also must have held your license for two years. And you have to take 40 hours of board-approved training. Interestingly, the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners was among the first in the country to require such a high number of training hours. This happened in the early 2000s, and in 2001 Bonnie Bain and Alicia Garcés created the first 40-hour training from our school. More recently, the board has required that approved clinical supervisors obtain an additional three hours of continuing education each biennium to maintain their status.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN THIS LINE OF WORK? In 1991 I was hired by the Settlement Home, a center for treatment and substitute care services for girls here in Austin. While working there I supervised the staff that worked with the eight adolescent females on our cottage. I also supervised my first social work students from both St. Edward’s and UT Austin. It was my first experience supervising, and I learned that influencing how these staff members and students understood and empathized with the girls was something I truly enjoyed.
WHAT ARE TWO CHALLENGES OF SUPERVISING? The responsibility and liability involved in the oversight of supervisees’ clients; the delicate balance of offering feedback in ways that promote learning and don’t bring up defensiveness.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT SUPERVISEES BRING UP? I will give you an example. A supervisee sent me a 911 message and during the supervision call she stated that a child she had seen in therapy for the first time that day had shared that her father told her to say that her mother was “crazy” — the parents were in the middle of a volatile divorce — and “joked” that one day he was going to hurt her mommy at the house. During the call, I helped the supervisee process her own feelings, and we discussed possible courses of action. We also discussed how difficult it is to hear these stories from our clients, which is important in supervision in order to prevent vicarious trauma — residue left over when we clinicians hear traumatic stories over and over and work without support and self-care.
WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS? Because of the relationships I create with new supervisees and the mentorship that continues throughout their careers, because I love to watch the growth of new professionals into confident social workers, and because it is a mutual learning
process — I stretch myself and grow with every single supervisee!