Launching Clinical Supervision in Your Practice with Shannon Heers | GP 126

An image of Shannon Heers is captured. Shannon is a licensed therapist, clinical supervisor, blogger, and owner of the group practice Catalyss Counseling. Shannon is featured on the Grow a Group Practice podcast, a therapist podcast.

Are you looking for clinical supervision? Which services can be offered by group practices to help fellow therapists on their clinical journey? How is great supervision integral to offering great therapy?

In this podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon speaks about launching clinical supervision in your practice with Shannon Heers.

Podcast Sponsor: Brighter Vision

An image of Brighter Vision Web Solutions is featured as the sponsor on Faith in Practice Podcast, a therapist podcast. Brighter Vision builds all in one websites for therapists.

Are you looking to build your brand, but don’t know where to begin when it comes to marketing your practice online?

Whether you’re a seasoned clinician in need of a website refresh, or just out of school and need to build your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution for you. From building your brand and designing a beautiful, customizable website to reflect that, to helping you rank higher with search engines, all of Brighter Vision’s online marketing tools are created specifically for therapists.

If that piqued your interest, keep listening… Right now, Brighter Vision is offering one of their biggest discounts ever during their 4th of July Sale. Sign up for any website package by Friday, July 8th to receive their exclusive tiered discount of $5/month off the START Plan, $10/month off the GROW Plan, or $20/month off the FLOURISH Plan during your first year with Brighter Vision!

All you have to do is go to brightervision.com/joe to learn more and take advantage of this great deal.

Meet Shannon Heers

An image of Shannon Heers is captured. Shannon is a licensed therapist, clinical supervisor, blogger, and owner of the group practice Catalyss Counseling. Shannon is featured on the Grow a Group Practice podcast, a therapist podcast.

Shannon Heers is a licensed therapist, clinical supervisor, blogger, and owner of Firelight Supervision, and the group practice Catalyss Counseling. Shannon is passionate about working with professionals, parents, and postpartum moms to manage stress, tame anxiety, and process grief.

Visit Firelight Supervision and the Catalyss Counselling website. Connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.

Connect with Shannon Heers on LinkedIn.

FREEBIE: Check out this free downloadable PDF on Therapist Burnout Prevention.

In This Podcast

  • The clinical need for supervision
  • Supervisor variety
  • Finding the right supervisor

The clinical need for supervision

I knew [clinical supervision] was that important for me, my career, and for me to stay in the field, to have that supportive supervisor. (Shannon Heers)

A supervisor can make or break your experience of the work you are doing.

They can either support you to develop your skills and work-life balance, or they can make you doubt yourself and your passions for this job.

How you feel about your work and how supported you feel really does make a big difference in how successful you’re going to be as a therapist. (Alison Pidgeon)

Therefore, it is important to pick your supervisors wisely and to work with people that inspire you.

Supervisor variety

Supervisors that work within Shannon’s group practice have a variety by offering:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Individual and group supervision for provisionally licensed therapists
  • Individual and group consultation for intermediate to advanced therapists who are already licensed

Finding the right supervisor

There are supervisor bios on the websites that describe the style of each supervisor, what their area of clinical expertise is, and who they work best with in terms of providing supervision and consultation.

Therapists that want supervision first undergo a phone consultation with either Shannon or the supervisor that they hope to work with.

We do a lot of [internal] referring [within the practice] to make sure we get a good fit for that supervisee. (Shannon Heers)

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Alison Pidgeon, Group Practice Owner

An image of Alison Pidgeon is displayed. She is a successful group practice owner and offers private practice consultation for private practice owners to assist in how to grow a group practice. She is the host of Grow A Group Practice Podcast and one of the founders of Group Practice Boss.Alison Pidgeon, LPC is the owner of Move Forward Counseling, a group practice in Lancaster, PA and she runs a virtual assistant company, Move Forward Virtual Assistants.

Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016.  She has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.

Transformation From A Private Practice To Group Practice

In addition, she is a private practice consultant for Practice of the Practice. Allison’s private practice ‘grew up.’ What started out as a solo private practice in early 2015 quickly grew into a group practice and has been expanding ever since.

Visit Alison’s website, listen to her podcast, or consult with Alison. Email Alison at alison@practiceofthepractice.com

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

[ALISON PIDGEON] You are listening to the Grow a Group Practice podcast. Whether you were thinking about starting a group practice or in the beginning stages, or want to learn how to scale up your already existing group practice, you are in the right place. I’m Alison Pidgeon, your host, a serial entrepreneur with four businesses, one of which is a large group practice that I started in 2015. Each week, I feature a guest or topic that is relevant to group practice owners. Let’s get started. Hello and welcome to the Group a Practice podcast. I’m Alison Pidgeon and today, I’m talking to Shannon Heers. She is a practice owner, and she’s starting another business, which we’re going to talk about in a minute. But I’ve gotten to know Shannon really well over the past couple years, she’s part of our Group Practice Boss community, I’ve done individual consulting with her and she is just awesome. She does everything at such a high level, and it’s been so awesome to see her grow her practice and try new things. I actually had her on the podcast before where she talked all about how she started lots of groups, so group therapy in her practice, so if you’re interested in that, definitely go back in the archives and find that interview. Let me tell you a little bit more about Shannon. She is an approved clinical supervisor, a therapist, and she’s the owner of Catalyss Counseling, which is a group counseling practice in Colorado. She also recently started a new business called Firelight Supervision. That’s what we’re talking about today. She is really passionate about giving high quality clinical supervision and consultation as a vehicle for burnout prevention, career satisfaction, and getting support for the tough work that counselors do every day. Shannon and I talk all about the new business that she started, Firelight Supervision. It’s a really awesome idea. I hope you enjoy this interview with Shannon hears. [ALISON] Hi, Shannon. Welcome. It’s so nice to have you on the podcast again. [SHANNON HEERS] Thanks, Alison. It’s great to be here. It’s so fun to come back and talk to you again. [ALISON] If you want to check out Shannon’s previous episode definitely do that where she talks all about her group practice and actually how they got therapy groups up and running. Now you have a new project that you’re working on, but before we get into all of that, can you just give us a brief introduction of yourself and your practice? [SHANNON] Yes, I’m Shannon Heers. I’m a licensed professional counselor and approved clinical supervisor and the owner of Catalyss Counseling. It’s a group practice located in the Denver Metro area of Colorado. We serve primarily adults, I would say more general stuff such as anxiety, depression, trauma. We also specialize in perinatal mental health, grief and loss, and we do a lot of therapy groups and support groups also, and we provide both virtual and in person services. So that’s our group practice. Then should I talk about the new project? [ALISON] Yes, please. I’m excited to hear about it. [SHANNON] So we’ve been providing for about the past year and a half clinical supervision and clinical consultation services, both within our community and throughout Colorado, virtually. That has been part of our group practice and its become actually so big we’re separating it out now to a separate business and a separate website and just a whole separate program. What we do is we provide individual and group clinical consultation for licensed therapists and clinical supervision for provisionally licensed therapists throughout Colorado. This would be maybe if you’re in private practice and you don’t have a supervisor or you’re practicing in a job that doesn’t provide clinical support or if you are just needing that extra mentoring, business leadership and clinical support. We have people coming to us for supervision and consultation. [ALISON] Awesome. So what is the new business called? [SHANNON] This is called Firelight Supervision and we’re really excited it’s just launching in July of 2022. So we are really excited. We have several different clinical supervisors all of which are experienced and licensed. We provide, like I said, a variety of group and individual modalities. We also provide some specialized supervision around trauma work, neurodiversity, and I’m trying to think of our other specialized group that we have going right now. Well, it’s left my head, but for general practices, and then also for more specific. We probably have about 10 groups going right now. So it’s hard to keep track of all the different ones. And we keep the group sizes pretty small. We keep the group sizes pretty small. We tend to meet once a month and yes people really connect with other therapists that are in the group. [ALISON] Excellent. So let’s go back to the beginning. Obviously, you started this as maybe a program in your group practice and then you grew it from there, but how did it start? Where did you get the idea? How did this all come to be? [SHANNON] I’ve always been passionate about clinical supervision, both because I’ve gotten excellent supervision in the past and because I’ve gotten terrible supervision in the past. I noticed what an impact it had on me professionally, if I had a good supervisor or not. I mean, everyone probably has their own story of that terrible supervisor. My story is just that I was working in community mental health. This was, oh my gosh, probably about 15 years ago, well maybe close to 20. I was working in community mental health and I had a wonderful supervisor and she was my mentor. She was just so supportive of me, moved up in the company. I was in a supervisory role. I was actually also during my internship year of my master’s program so I was working full time trying to do my internship. I mean, it was just a stressful year. Everyone remembers that year. I would guess as one of the most stressful that they’ve had. Then my supervisor left and I thought, I would say in this job with this company that I had. I thought it was a career position for me. My supervisor left, they brought in another supervisor who, of course I gave the benefit of the doubt to that person and she was terrible. I don’t know how else to put it. She used our supervision more for support for her and her job. I mean, I just, I remember one time that, and this happened many times, she would go out for a cigarette break in the middle of our supervision and make me go with her. I hate cigarettes. Like I’m just super sensitive to smoke. She would make me go with her and she would just vent to me about how anxious she was and she was too anxious to do her job. This is my supervision. So eventually, I know terrible, but this happens and this isn’t the worst story I’ve heard, so eventually I got burned out. I just didn’t have the support I needed. I didn’t have any clinical or administrative support. I got really sick and I ended up quitting my job. I didn’t have another job lined up and it took me several months to recover from that. So then when I moved back into a professional role at a different company, I really demanded good clinical supervision and when I didn’t get it, I looked for it externally. I just knew it was that important for me, for my career and for me to stay in the field to have that supportive supervisor. [ALISON] Yes, absolutely. Unfortunately, I feel like that is a common story, like we’ve all worked in different places where we didn’t have a great supervisor and it really affects how you feel about your work and how supported you feel or really does make a big difference in how successful you’re going to be as a therapist and an employee. [SHANNON] Yes, I agree. I feel like with good supervision, you can do the hardest job that there is, but with bad supervision, you can’t even do the best job that there is out there. You’re not going to stay in it for very long. All our work is hard. I feel like everyone deserves to have that good clinical supervision and support. [ALISON] Yes, absolutely. So when you started offering this in your group practice how did you, so obviously this is a whole different service you’re offering outside of therapy for clients, how did you get the word out that you were offering the service and what was the reception like from other therapists in the community? [SHANNON] We did not have to do very much marketing at all. I don’t even think I advertised other than putting a page on our website saying that we provided supervision. Then when anyone was asking for it that I knew, I said, hey, we do that. So there was clearly a need in the community. I didn’t have to go at it a hundred percent. There was clearly a need in the community for both supervision and consultation, individual and group. We saw the group need was huge, especially during the pandemic when people were so isolated and everyone was working virtually. They didn’t have that connection with other people. So I feel like the group, the group aspect of the services that we provide has really been the biggest surprise to me. I guess I should have anticipated it, but that’s probably our most popular thing. We have a lot of people just coming, looking for groups. We probably have about, yes, I would say we probably, we have about 10 groups going right now, combination of supervision and consultation and then we probably have about 50 clinicians between therapists, counselors, social workers that are part of our program right now. [ALISON] Wow. That’s awesome. [SHANNON] Yes, it just naturally — [ALISON] That’s amazing. [SHANNON] Oh, sorry. It just naturally [crosstalk] [ALISON] Yes, that’s amazing that it just sort of grew so organically. It’s obvious that it’s just a very needed service and so great that you can provide that because it is hard to find good quality supervision, especially in specialty areas. [SHANNON] Right, and all of our supervisors have, they’re advanced clinicians, so it’s hard to be a good supervisor when you’re fairly new in the field. So all of our supervisors, they have that training. They have the experience, they continue to get their own clinical consultation, which I’m very passionate about. So we have our little monthly or twice a month meetings where we all get together and provide supervision of our supervision and we just continue to learn and grow. I think that’s what is important for me, and that’s what I’m super passionate about is just continuing to learn and grow in the field, not be stagnant, even if you have other things going on in your life right now; how can you stay invested and interested in the work and the career that you’re doing? [ALISON] Yes, because I think that especially helps people with burnout. I know a lot of my therapists say when they learn new skills or go to trainings or have supervision, they feel like it sort of reinvigorates them to keep doing the job. So I think that’s a big piece of preventing burnout too. [SHANNON] Absolutely. I mean, there’s so many different things we can do to prevent burnout, but I do think that that connection that you have with a supervisor or with a group is probably the top thing that we can do in our field to help prevent that burnout. [ALISON] Yes, so just switching gears a little bit and talking about like the business aspect of that, how do you structure the payments or how have you made offering those services profitable for your business? [SHANNON] It has been tricky because clinical supervision, if someone’s paying for clinical supervision externally, which is the service that we provide, so outside of their job we’re going to price ourselves out of the field if we continue to raise our prices like we would, as you get more experience, more training with your clinical sessions. So our prices may be a little bit higher than others in the community, but they’re still actually lower than our clinical session hour charges are. So how we make it profitable is, like I said, we’ve done very little advertising. We put very little into marketing so far. We try to prioritize getting people into groups because that is more of a revenue maker for us than the individual supervision and consultation. Of course, we provide both and we want to do what’s best for the therapist who’s asking for the service, but we do encourage almost everyone to be part of a group both for business purposes, but also because we’ve seen how powerful it can be and how amazing those connections with other therapists in your group can be. So we offer, we try to offer groups and then volume because I have five supervisors on our team that can provide this. We can get a lot of people in. Most of my supervisors, not all of them, but most of them are also therapists with our practice. So I do have one supervisor and I do plan to hire more in the future that are just contractors. Maybe they have their own work outside of working for our group practice. So that’s nice also because I pay them a percent split as a 1099 independent contractor and that is just a little bit more profitable for me as a business owner, than continuing to hire just a part-time W2 employee to do just supervision. [BRIGHTER VISION] Are you looking to build your brand, but don’t know where to begin when it comes to marketing your practice online? Whether you are a seasoned clinician in need of a website refresh or just out of school and need to build your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution for you. From building your brand and designing a beautiful customizable website to reflect that to helping you rank higher with search engines, all of Brighter Vision’s online marketing tools are created specifically for therapists. If that piqued your interest, keep listening. Right now, Brighter Vision is offering one of their biggest discounts ever during their 4th of July sale. Sign up for any website package by Friday, July 8th, to receive their exclusive tiered discount of $5 a month off the start plan, $10 a month off of the grow plan or $20 a month off the flourish plan during your first year with Brighter Vision. All you have to do is go to brightervision.com/joe to learn more and take advantage of this great deal. That’s brightervision.com/joe. [ALISON PIDGEON] Thanks for explaining how you set that up. I wonder too, do the therapists appreciate having the opportunity to do something different and to do supervision? Because I know a lot of my therapists get really excited about having some variety in their day and getting to supervise people. [SHANNON] Yes, I think you hit it right there. Alison, when you said variety. That’s actually another burnout prevention technique, the more variety you have in your job, you’re not doing the same thing over and over again. You’re still continuing to learn. You’re expanding yourself and doing different things. So the supervisors who also do the counseling in our group practice really love the variety. So they’re doing individual counseling, group counseling. They’re also doing individual and group supervision for provisionally licensed therapists and individual and group consultation for more intermediate to advance therapists who are already licensed. So it’s really nice well rounded job. [ALISON] Do you have any process in place for screening the supervisees? Is there some sort of process to see, okay, are we going to be a good fit or do you just take on whoever wants supervision? [SHANNON] We do. We do have a process. We don’t take everyone. We do have the option of saying either this is outside our scope of practice to provide supervision for, this wouldn’t be a good fit stylistically or if there are other concerning issues going on, we will say we can’t do that. But initially what we do is we have our supervisor bios up on our website, the Firelight Supervision website. So it really says each different supervisor, what their style is, what their area of clinical expertise is and who they work best with in terms of providing supervision and consultation to. So I think that helps. We also offer, the first mode of contact with us is a phone consultation. That’s either with myself as the head of the program or with the supervisor that they are hoping to work with. Often a supervisor will meet with a therapist and say, I think this other supervisor would be a better fit for you or this other group has an opening and I think that would really work with your modality and your orientation. So we do a lot of referring within ourselves to make sure we get a good fit for that supervisee or consultee. [ALISON] Yes, that’s so important. I feel like you have somebody who’s a good match between the supervisor and supervisee, that’s something we do as well in my practice. We try to make sure they’re going to be a good fit before we agree to providing supervision. [SHANNON] Sure, and sometimes we have someone doing individual supervision with one supervisor and then group supervision with another maybe because of the therapist schedule or something, and that tends to work so that the supervisee then gets access to even more different styles of supervision. [ALISON] Yes, that’s great too. One thing I was wondering about, we were talking about, you started this program within your private practice and then it took off and then at some point you realized, oh wow, this could be a whole separate business. What was that thought process like for you or what made you decide to make it separate and not have it be a part of the practice? [SHANNON] I think when it got so big. It was probably this fall I started thinking, oh my gosh we’re offering all these groups and I don’t have any more room on our group practice website to put them. I already think I have three pages devoted, three landing pages on our group practice website devoted to that. I wanted more, there was just so much more I wanted to do and share and that we had identified as gaps in the community or needs for therapists in this throughout the state. That’s when I started thinking, oh, it’s probably, we probably need to create a separate website. Then I love program development so of course my mind started spinning like, oh, we could do this and we could do this and here’s the options we could. I’m really excited to say that we’re expanding to other states. Every state is unique in terms of if you can provide clinical supervision. Obviously, you have to be licensed in that state, but some states have requirements to provide supervision. Some have less stringent requirements, some have more stringent requirements. So we’re going to be expanding to a few different states, including we’re now in Washington, the state of Washington, the state of Texas. Pretty soon we’ll be in the state of North Carolina also, but for our clinical consultation services, we can draw from anyone. If you’re licensed, you can get consultation from anyone even outside of your state. So when I started realizing, oh, this could be really big and if there’s a need in Colorado, there’s probably a need in other states to provide a service like this. I think that’s really when it started clicking, okay, let’s formalize this and make it separated from our group counseling practice. [ALISON] That’s cool. I’m assuming you formed a whole new business entity and it is its own standalone business now? [SHANNON] Yep. It’s actually a DBA under our group counseling practice. I just didn’t separate it out because I have so many supervisors who also do therapy for us. It was easier to just keep it together but, in the future, it’s certainly an option, I may separate it out fully depending on how big it gets. [ALISON] Cool. So from a marketing perspective, though, because it has its own name, its own website, it’s its own. It’s its own thing that has grown and is now its own being. [SHANNON] Yes, for sure. For sure. It’s interesting how people go about looking for clinical supervisors. A lot of people will ask colleagues or friends or former professors, but a lot of people just will look online. They’ll just Google it, “a clinical supervisor near me” or something like that. So I think it’s really important to have a strong online presence for people that find us that way. [ALISON] Do you want to eventually be in every state? Is that your goal? [SHANNON] Oh my gosh. That’s so big. I don’t know. That seems big. I think it would just depend, one, it’s hard to find supervisors who want to work for me versus working for themselves because there’s a lot of very qualified and very great clinical supervisors out there who can attract their own supervises, maybe create a couple of groups, stuff like that. So the type of supervisors that I would like to come on board with us would be people who really want to work within that group community, who like that team atmosphere and who don’t want to go out and do their own things. So I think that would be the biggest challenge to expanding to more states is just bringing on more supervisors [ALISON] Yes, and I think the tricky thing is too, like you said, every state is a little bit different and always is interesting to me talking to other people all across the United States, what is required. It seems like it runs the gamut from here, in PA you just have to be, you just have to have worked in the field for five years and be licensed. But then in other states you have to be like, you have to take special classes, you have to have a certificate, you have to register with the state. It’s like all these hoops you got to jump through. So yes, I would think it would be tough keeping track of all of that. [SHANNON] It is. Then it’s not just every state. It’s every different licensure in each state has different requirements. So LCSWs or social workers, whatever the designation is. Your state may have a different requirement for supervision than the counselor license would in your state and then the marriage and family therapists have different requirements also. So yes, lots to keep track of. I don’t see us expanding to every state. The states that we’re in right now are because one of our supervisors is already part of that community. They’re licensed there, they’re living there or they’re working there or they have recently lived there and they have community connections. So it’s not just we’re just picking a random state and trying to be there. It’s places where we are already a part of the community. [ALISON] Yes, that makes sense. So what gets you most excited about building out this whole new program and this new offering for people? [SHANNON] It’s so fun. Program development is so fun. I really work from, me personally, I tend to work from a big picture perspective. So the big picture is that I’m really passionate about preventing burnout and this is one way, the primary way that I see that I can make the biggest impact on helping to prevent burnout in our field. I mean, I can’t even count the number of people the last few years who have said, I’m done, I’m out. This is too much, I cannot handle it anymore. There’s such a need for counseling and mental health services and social work. You’re spending so much time and money to go to grad school and to get your supervision and then to get licensed and then to work in the field. It just seems such a shame that people are leaving the field because they’re burnt out and they’re being overworked and underappreciated. So I think that’s where I’m coming from and that’s the why behind why this is important to me and why it’s exciting and fun to do. Then of course like the figuring out how to do it, which is a little more challenging for me. Luckily, I have a good team in place around me that is very helpful with that but it’s just fun. It’s something new and different and exciting. [ALISON] Is that the best part for you, like getting to start something new? [SHANNON] Yes, probably. Probably similar to you in that way, Alison. [ALISON] Yes. I know, I was going to say that’s exactly my favorite part, like expansion, starting new things. That to me is the best. But then you got to figure out who’s going to manage it for you once you start it, because that’s not my favorite part. [SHANNON] Yes, I have someone in place that’s set to take it over in a month or two, so. It’s exciting. Like I said, I have a harder time figuring out the how-tos. I can see the vision and what I want to see and how I can always figure out how to get there. So it’s always nice to have someone on your team that can really compliment you or support you in that way. [ALISON] Yes, for sure. I feel like without my team, I would be nowhere. They’re amazing. [SHANNON] Yes. [ALISON] So anything else about Firelight that you want to share with us? [SHANNON] Well, if you are interested in checking us out, you can go to our website, it’s www.firelightsupervision.com, and you can sign up to get our burnout prevention checklist. That is actually three pages of different burnout prevention, things that you can start implementing into your daily, weekly, and monthly routine so you can help prevent your own burnout. If you are interested in maybe joining a clinical consultation group or checking out our supervisors to see if someone might be a good fit to do some individual work with you, we’d be happy to do a phone consultation also with you. There’s a link to, or a button, sorry to do that, on our website that you can schedule one directly, as soon as you click on the link. [ALISON] Excellent. This has been so great, Shannon and I really, I’ve been working with Shannon for a long time and seeing you grow your group practice, and now you’re starting this whole other business, and it’s just like so gratifying for me as someone who helped you along in the process, just to see all these like amazing things that you’re doing. Thank you so much for being willing to come on and share with us. [SHANNON] Well, thank you, Alison. I mean, I really appreciate your support the past, gosh, it’s been almost a couple years now. Oh my gosh. Probably or close to three years. Just your guidance around, hey, I think this might work. This might not work. So it’s been super helpful for me too. So thank you. [ALISON] Thank you. Thank you so much again, to Brighter Vision for being our sponsor for this episode. Again, if you’re interested in their 4th of July sale, check out brightervision.com/joe to learn all of the details. Thanks so much for listening today. I hope you enjoyed that interview. Shannon does have a free downloadable PDF on therapist burnout prevention. If you are interested in that, it is on her website, firelightsupervision.com. So at the time this episode is coming out her website is just launching so if you happen to check. It’s not quite launched yet, it will be in the next few days. Thanks so much for listening and I’ll talk to you all next time. If you love this podcast, will you please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player? This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

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