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Episode 186 | Onboarding Therapists into Clinical Supervision with Ili Rivera Walter


WITH Ili Rivera Walter

  • Episode 186 | Onboarding Therapists into Clinical Supervision with Ili Rivera Walter 00:00


Hey Group Practice listeners! In this episode, I’m talking with Ili Rivera Walter all about on boarding therapists into clinical supervision.

In this episode we cover:

  • How supervisees, and supervisors can make sure that they’re a good fit for each other
  • Dual supervision relationships
  • When the supervisor can’t meet the supervisee’s needs
  • What makes up effective supervision

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Maureen Werrbach

Maureen Werrbach
Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of The Group Practice Exchange Podcast. Today is an interview day. And I’m super excited because as most of you know, I don’t necessarily love doing solo podcast episodes, they’re much more fun when I get to have a guest on. And so today I have Ili Rivera Walter on. You might know her. She’s a group practice owner, she’s got a lot of things in the therapist world going on. And so I have her on today. And we’re gonna be talking about onboarding a therapist into clinical supervision. And we’re going to have a group practice twist to it. So let’s get into it. Hi, Ili, how are you?

Ili Rivera Walter
Hey, Maureen. Great. Thanks for having me here. Yeah.

Maureen Werrbach
So I know, what got me into this topic and wanting to have you come on was you had a blog post that talked about some steps for onboarding supervisor, or a clinician –a supervisee and supervisor together for supervision. And I think this is such a relevant topic in general. And I also wanted to sort of take some of those pieces of feedback that you gave, which we can talk a little bit about, and talk about the nuances of being in group practice and how to like, take some of that information and edit it in a way that works for group practices. So I’m really excited to have you on.

Ili Rivera Walter
Yeah, let’s do it. Yeah, I’m excited too.

Maureen Werrbach
Okay, so tell us a little bit about you, and why you are a person to be chatting to when it comes to supervisors and supervisees.

Ili Rivera Walter
Sure, well, I’ve been in the therapy field for a while, I am a marriage and family therapist, and I’ve been–so the a the marriage and family therapy field does require a lot before you become a supervisor, which is a little different than the mental health or the counseling field. And so I’ve been approved as a supervisor for I think over six years at this point, I waited a little while to do it. And then after you reach certain number of supervision hours, you become approved to supervise people who are becoming supervisors. So that’s like another level. So I’ve been doing that as well for some time. So yes, that’s one part is just my private pursuit of understanding supervision and offering supervision. Another side is that as part of being a professor in a marriage and family therapy program, I supervise students who are doing their practicum and their internship and I teach supervision ideas, and I think they had one more thing that qualifies me but it just slipped my mind. That’s probably enough. Qualified enough?

Maureen Werrbach
Yeah. Okay. And so one of the things that you talk about in this blog post is, you know how supervisees, and supervisors can make sure that they’re a good fit for each other, how the supervisor can, you know, talk about how they do their work, how they supervise, and what their style is, like it’s kind of setting up expectations for what supervision will look like and things like that, right? And I think it’s such valuable information. And I also recognize that the group practice world actually almost challenges that notion, because in solo practice, or if you’re in a program, or working in a nonprofit, where you might not be getting supervision, you have to seek your own. You’re essentially interviewing people to find a supervisor that fits your needs, right? And in group practice, you tend to have everything sort of given to you without you being able to sort of make those choices, right, you get employed at a group practice. And you need a supervisor, that group practice likely either the group practice owner is provides the supervision or they have a clinical director or supervisor that is there to provide it. And there might not be the options available to you that would be available if you are pursuing looking for a supervisor out kind of in the world, right? And so I’d love to get your feedback on kind of how supervisees and supervisors who maybe don’t get the choice of like choosing each other how, how they can best make that relationship work. And some maybe some anecdotal thoughts you might have about it, and suggestions or feedback for either the supervisor or the supervisee?

Ili Rivera Walter
Sure. Well, first, I think the transparency part of like learning about each other, and the supervisor having being open about their style, and all of those things I do mentioned in the blog post, which is like their style, their training, their areas of expertise is still 100% necessary. And on the other side, the supervisee, being able to express their goals, the kind of work that they’re doing what they’d like to learn and get out of the supervision relationship. So really um really transparent conversation, at the beginning, at the start of that relationship, just like every relationship, right? We need to talk about like who we are and what we want. I think that that really sets the tone, even if the supervisee didn’t interview a bunch of supervisors and decide etc. Even though they may have gotten their supervisor, because they’re a part of the group practice, it is still a wonderful benefit to receive a supervisor. And so also maybe having a context for what it means to receive supervision, how that’s a benefit. How is that provided by the group practice? So I would go even up, like a level to the admin, or the policies or the employee handbook, and explain why it’s a benefit to receive supervision, and why the practice offers it. Then, I would say, separately, one thing that comes to mind as you were talking, well, two things one is possible dual relationship. And then what if the supervisor can’t meet all of the supervisees needs? So let’s start with possible dual relationship. And it can happen in group practices that the clinical supervisor has more than one role in the practice. And so it is the clinical supervisor and or their, their own supervisor or, like administrative supervisory responsibility.

Maureen Werrbach
Yeah, so maybe the person that like, does performance improvement plans on them, if they’re not meeting goals and such? You mean that right? Like practical supervision but also might be their–again, that’s I guess, also called a supervisor, but non clinical meaning like they might be the one that whoever they are, whatever, yes–

Ili Rivera Walter
Yeah, whoever they report to it like in their job. So for the supervisor, whoever they report to, needs to be mindful to not place the supervisor in their job responsibilities in scenarios where it puts them in having more than one role with their supervisee or supervisees. Also, the supervisor themselves needs to have some sort of process for communicating if they’re having Those feelings, like they’re being in there in a role or in a position where they’re uncomfortable, or they feel like it’s crossing lines, or they’re supervisee. I think that’s maybe some disciplines emphasize the dual relationship part more than others. But regardless, it can cause some sticky situations. So that’s one. That’s one thing that I wanted to address it. Was there anything you wanted to jump in about that one?

Maureen Werrbach
No, I think that makes a lot of sense is actually not something I think that often about as my own, we have a lot of supervisors, but they also, in this situation are in that dual role of providing clinical supervision and are their reports, because they manage the clinical–they’re the site supervisor, so they manage the site or the location that they’re at as well.

Ili Rivera Walter
This isn’t uncommon, this isn’t uncommon, but I want you to say what you’re you’re gonna say, and then I’ll add a little bit.

Maureen Werrbach
Um, no, I was gonna say, I’m really interested to hear about what happens, what your suggestions are for when the supervisor might not be able to meet the needs of the supervisee. Because I feel like that is the biggest problem that group practice owners face when they bring us supervisors is like in how you’re trained in supervision. And you pursued it, because it’s a passion of yours, and you did all of this work to get there. And I know MFTs have extra kind of education and training that they have to do to become that. But it’s like a personal like, you made the decision, you went through that work. A lot of times group practice owners, when they feel burnt out, and they want to have extra support, they look to their team and say, like, who is really a great clinician, and then they choose that person to be a supervisor, even though that person might not have gone through that rigorous supervisory training. But they are really just chosen because they’re a great clinician. And so they’re like, you’ll be good at training, the next kind of, you know, any therapists we have in our practice. And so I’ve always wonder about, you know, how, how that impacts the supervisees ability to get great supervision. And, like, what happens when that supervisor just can’t meet the specific needs that that supervisee has?

Ili Rivera Walter
That’s a great point. Yeah. I think as a supervisor who owns my practice, and I’m like onboarding interns all the time, I never considered that people wouldn’t have training and supervision, but I understand that that’s true,

Maureen Werrbach
Or they have like minimal, so like, my license type requires it. I can give it but like, I haven’t done the the level of supervisory training that you have, right, because that’s right. And so I think there’s a big difference between so my license, I’m a counselor, we are required within our first renew, fully licensure renewal cycle. So when we become fully licensed, I have one renewal cycle to get the, it’s like 18 hours of supervisory training, in order to renew my full licensure, but then that’s it, it doesn’t need to be redone. I might not provide supervision for another 5, 10 years after that. And so, and I could be potentially hired to provide supervision. I just wonder, because there’s are there are people who do it to like, check the box off, right? Because they need to, like me, I don’t love providing supervision. So it’s not something I pursue or do. But I did my train, you know, I did my supervisory training 10 or so years ago, when I had to, and if I was to be asked to provide supervision, I can provide supervision. But if I’m not passionate about it, right, and I’m not doing continuous training on best practices, as a supervisor, I’m not going to be as effective. And so I just wonder with your practices, I find that most people would just bring on a really good clinician, as a supervisor, versus looking for people who have a primary focus on providing supervision and who do this continuous training to be able to do that, you know?

Ili Rivera Walter
That’s, yes, that’s so interesting. So I, obviously, I think that part of the gatekeeping or like, ethical responsibilities include practices for the people in charge, so to speak, to make sure that their supervisors understand supervision to the extent necessary whether that’s because they had the the credits that were required for their license, etc. And to also be checking in with supervisors about how’s it going How do you like this role? Is it something you want to continue to do? What are the pain points of being a supervisor in this practice specifically about providing clinical supervision? And what are the successes. So just continuing to have those conversations with supervisors, I think can be really helpful and can also bring up ideas for what kind of trainings might be helpful for the supervisor that may not have anything to do with supervision, they may have to do with documentation or, I don’t know, motivational interviewing, or who knows, it could be anything.

Maureen Werrbach
I think maybe they want to wait with like, if you’re in a group practice, as a supervisor, you as the group practice owner should ensure that you’re prioritizing the continuing education of the supervisor as well. Yeah, and not just plopping them into that position, and then saying, you’re good to go.

Ili Rivera Walter
Right? Yes, agreed. Yeah. And, yep, go ahead. Sorry. Separately, it is very likely that a supervisor whether the supervisor is within a good practice context, or whether the supervisee sought that supervisor out, it’s very unlikely their supervisor is going to provide all the possible needs that a supervisee has. And so part of what I recommend for supervisees is for them to well, obviously, if they’re choosing their supervisor to interview and figure out like, what are their priorities in this process, if they’re pre licensed therapists, and we’re not talking about ongoing supervision, as a licensed clinician. If they’re pre licensed therapists, they have a window, they have two to three years to have this opportunity to work under someone to really gain a lot of experience and understanding. And so thinking through like, what is it that they want to learn? Is it a particular theory, a particular method? Do they have a goal of being in business? Does their supervisor have a private practice, so they could not be talking about businesses and clinical supervision, but they can see the model, right, within a group practice. If there’s been that transparency, and that relationship has developed, it makes it easier for supervisee, to be able to say, you know, I’m realizing I need more support around x, is that something you feel you could provide? And or to say, maybe I need to look for that elsewhere. And so I think, too, whether it’s a licensed clinician, or a pre licensed clinician, to be thinking about our clinical needs as an ongoing investment, that we do sometimes need to talk to somebody about something, and maybe even the practice could be the referral source. Hey, we I know somebody who could support you in this, let’s set that up. Or, please feel free to pursue supervision on the side with someone else, right?

Maureen Werrbach
Similar to like relationships, right? Not all of your needs are going to ever be met by one singular person. And I think that’s something that all of us could be more aware of within ourselves. I think a lot of times as business owners, or leaders of any kind supervisors, being leaders as well, we feel this need to like, be able to provide all the things to the people that we’re supposed to be supporting. Right. And that, it doesn’t mean that there’s a lacking within you, when parts of the needs of a supervisee need to be met elsewhere. Right? Because we can’t do all the things for everyone.

Ili Rivera Walter
We can’t and likely and and hopefully we’ve specialized to the extent that we don’t have to do all the things forever, right. And that’s, yeah, that’s purposeful, and that makes our lives easier and more meaningful. But yes, that means that sometimes we have to say, You know what, I’m not the best person for that. Yeah, that’s let’s see, who is.

Maureen Werrbach
That’s yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So I know as we’re getting ready to sort of wrap up. Can you tell people about where they can find you what things you do to support therapists and where that’s at?

Ili Rivera Walter
Yeah, of course. So I write at family therapy There, I have some free articles and resources for therapists. I have the community called the Refreshed Therapists Network, where we have groups and subgroups. It’s a free community for students, pre licensed people in grad school, people who have businesses, people who are seasoned therapist, so we do like free challenges in there and all sorts of stuff so people can find that at and I’m a group practice owner. So I’m supporting practicum internship and pre licensed therapists and my practice is called City Couples, city couples dot net.

Maureen Werrbach
Awesome. Well, I appreciate you coming on and sharing your valuable knowledge when it comes to supervision and supervisees and supervisors. So I appreciate you coming on this morning.

Ili Rivera Walter
And he said it was my pleasure. Yeah, have a great one.

Maureen Werrbach
You too.

Thanks For Listening

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Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:


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