3 Tips for Hiring Prelicensed Therapists

As your practice grows, you may encounter a common problem for professionals who provide services by the hour. How can you maximize your impact when there are only so many hours in the day? You can’t always add more hours to your own schedule, but there is a way to add more service hours to your practice: hire additional therapists. 

When you bring on prelicensed therapists, you have an opportunity to expand your impact both in your community and profession. You can provide valuable and necessary supervision to those coming into the field, while employees provide services under your direction. Many practices find that the arrangement can also be profitable. For all of this to work as intended though, make sure you’re hiring the right people at the right time. 

If you’re looking to hire prelicensed therapists into your practice or organization, there are a few things you need to know, especially if you haven’t done this before.

1. Determine whether your potential hire is the right fit

When you’re interviewing new people for your practice, it can be challenging to assess whether you’ll be a good fit for each other—but knowing that information is vital to a positive supervisor/supervisee experience.

It’s important to take your time when you’re meeting with potential associates. A lot of practitioners rush into hiring someone, and don’t take the time to really get to know that person. Do you think the two of you would have a good working relationship? Are they in line with the values of your practice? Do you think they would be able to form meaningful relationships with your clients? You should have some idea of the answers to these questions before you move forward with hiring anyone.   

2. Find out what employment laws apply

As an employer, there are a number of state and federal laws you need to be aware of before hiring any additional employees. In private practice settings, make sure you’re prepared to follow any applicable laws regarding minimum wage, sick leave, pay periods, breaks during the work day, and so on. 

Even nonprofit organizations can be subject to certain employment laws, although the applicable rules can vary by state, organization, and even one’s specific role within the organization. Make sure you’re fully aware of what laws apply in your state—and to the type of business you have—before moving forward with hiring. 

In California, rules about hiring independent contractors have recently changed. Many positions that were previously filled by independent contractors (who received 1099 forms for taxes) now have employees who use W-2 forms instead. With such questions, it’s best practice to consult an attorney. Your professional-liability insurance carrier or your professional association may provide legal consultation or referrals.

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3. Ask yourself whether you’re ready to be a supervisor

There are a number of resources available for supervisors—and those who want to become supervisors—like: 

Though it’s not expressly written for supervisors, Deliberate Practice for Psychotherapists can help you improve supervisees’ clinical outcomes through specific tasks in the supervision relationship. Online classes are another great resource to offer you new perspectives and help prepare you to be a supervisor. 

But that’s just the training side. The other part of readiness is emotional. Are you ready to take on the responsibility that comes with being a supervisor? It can be greatly rewarding to be a supervisor, but it does require a substantial investment of time and energy. 

You need to build a trusting relationship with a supervisee that involves mutual responsibility and accountability. For example, you must be available to them when emergencies arise in their cases, or when they have other immediate needs. You also have  to be able to deliver both praise and criticism of the supervisee’s work to help them improve in their work. 

If you’re considering adding supervision to an already overburdened schedule, you may need to deprioritize something else in order for hiring an associate to work. Ideally, you want supervision to be a great experience for everyone involved, and not just another thing to fit in. If you’re able to do that successfully, hiring supervisees can be one of the great joys of your career—one that has influence for many years to come.

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