Licensed Therapists vs. Interns: Are Interns Less Qualified?

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Intern is a commonly misunderstood label in the world of therapy, so lets start there. In the field of therapy, a marriage and family therapy registered intern at minimum is someone who has completed a masters degree in counseling psychology or social work (or the equivalent thereof), has completed a practicum placement at an approved site, and has passed a thorough background check by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and been granted a registration number and designation as an intern. Once these things are complete, the now Registered Intern must complete additional hours of work under the supervision of a licensed therapist for a grand total of 3,000 hours. In a given week, for every 10 hours of clinical work (face to face with a client or over the phone counseling) an intern must meet with their supervisor for 1 hour for case consultation and supervision. So what does all of this mean for the client being treated by an intern? It means that you are getting two sets of eyes on your treatment plan to achieve your goals.

The development of a therapist is life-long; we spend our careers learning new and better ways to help our clients. While licensed clinicians generally have more years in experience than interns, interns may have had much more recent broad exposure to current treatment modalities. From the time a person graduates from an approved degree program, they have 6 years to complete the 3000 hours needed to sit for the state board examinations, which means if you’re seeing an intern, they could have 10-15 years of experience (see blog article on cost of therapy for timeline breakdown)! Each clinician regardless of licensure status brings to the table a different set of skills, training, and experience. Finding the clinician that best meets your needs is the most important part, whether they are a registered intern or a licensed therapist.

If you would like to speak to one of our clinicians, please call us at (760) 942-8663.

Reannon Kerwood, MA, IMF 73596

Clinical Intern

Coherence Associates, Inc.

 

Licensed Therapists vs. Interns: Are Interns Less Qualified?

5 thoughts on “Licensed Therapists vs. Interns: Are Interns Less Qualified?

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  • February 17, 2016 at 4:36 pm
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    Regardless of the multitude of variables involved in our professional development, for myself, good things transpired as a result of quality supervision.
    Supervisors can nurture and inspire the supervisee to learn and keep learning or, they can be over-critical, crude and impossible to communicate with leading to abuses of authority premature burnout of those “under them.” and program failure. I have experience each type and the differences stem for the most part from a combination of education, training, and experience–seemingly each internalized and working together.

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    • February 17, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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      George –

      Thank you for your input. I agree wholeheartedly. The supervision process is absolutely a growth process for any new clinician. The direction the supervisor takes them (positive or negative) can impact them the rest of their career.

      I know that my own clinical supervision was invaluable, because even though I had all the tools and knowledge initially necessary to help the clients, I did not have the years of experience necessary to always apply those tools most efficiently. It took a third party coaching me, observing me in groups, and giving me consistent feedback, good and bad, that allowed me to become far better than the well educated inexperienced intern I started as.

      On the flip side of that, having an intern fresh out of school, jam packed with all that knowledge and the fire to get better, can push a supervisor to learn more themselves. It can add much needed new theories and techniques to the considerable experience of the supervisor. If they themselves are humble enough to learn.

      It is always good to hear about people’s supervision experiences and good to know that many people gained a whole lot from their own supervision.

      – Jeremy Larsen
      Business Development and Practice Manager

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  • February 19, 2016 at 9:04 pm
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    I have had the pleasure of supervising interns. What I think makes us good at what we do is how we use our authentic selves in our work, as well as education, training and clinical supervision. There were some interns that did some things quite a bit better than me. I learned from everyone of them and I am a better clinician for having supervised them. It made me look more closely at why I do what I do . what about me is different that works, and where I need to improve. So my answer specifically would be it depends on who the clinician is, who the intern is and what is going to be helpful for the consumer. One of the best things I ever did was transfer a male adolescent client with depression to an intern.

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    • February 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm
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      Lisa –

      I think that is exactly right. Every single clinician regardless of experience level has different skill sets. I think both being supervised and supervising is an opportunity to learn. Thanks for your thoughts, it is always good to know.

      – Jeremy Larsen
      Business Development and Practice Manager
      Coherence Associates Inc.

      Reply

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