The process to become a licensed therapist in Pennsylvania is a complicated one. Candidates, or fellows, must obtain 3,000 hours, and a minimum of two years of oversight by the supervisor. There is a shortage of therapists who meet the criteria of qualified supervisors in Pennsylvania. Additionally, qualified supervisors often carry full caseloads, making it challenging to find time to participate in clinical supervision programs. Many fellows end up working as part-time, unpaid social workers, or even pay supervisors, in exchange for supervision. When this happens, the process slows down, and it can take years to accumulate enough hours to become licensed.
To help more fellows accelerate the licensing process, LOHF has created grants for Clinical Supervision, with funding in partnership with the Steinman Foundation. The program establishes a framework that includes regular check-ins, educational events, and training programs. LOHF also reimburses the clinical supervisor, relieving the financial burden of practices while also ensuring that fellows are paid and able to pursue licensing full-time. By reducing the financial burden while also providing additional educational resources, LOHF seeks to accelerate the licensing process and increase the number of licensed therapists in Lancaster County.
TEAMCare Behavioral Health Expanded its Clinical Supervision Program
TEAMCare in Lancaster is a group of psychiatrists, psychologists, clinicians, and support staff who emphasize collaboration with patients, family members, the treatment team, primary care physicians, and other providers in a strength-based approach to intervention. John Frain, a Licensed Professional Counselor at TEAMCare, emphasizes, “We believe strongly in the idea of public health as an agency, and the individuals within this agency are committed to providing access to as many people as possible so those people can receive the service that would best benefit them.”
An LOHF grant is helping TEAMCare expand its clinical supervision program. Frain explains, “We want to bring more people into the field by providing supervision that enables them to obtain their license. TEAMCare not only works with people who have medical assistance insurance but also works with people who have private insurance or subsidized private insurance.” He adds, “These people are in much in need of service as someone else, but we may not have a therapist who has the credentials (as defined by insurance requirements) to work with that person. So from an access perspective and to enhance the professionalism of the field, TEAMCare made a conscious decision to try to help people obtain their professional licenses.”
Providing clinical supervision can be an expensive proposition for any practice or agency. Credentialed, licensed supervisors are short on time, and time is needed to supervise a fellow. Frain notes, “When LOHF presented us with this idea, we ‘thought this is fantastic.’ We can enhance what we’re already trying to do in an economically feasible way. The grant gave us the ability to develop a whole new group of fellows who can be licensed. And when they become licensed, they will be able to work with a wider array of children in Lancaster County who need their help.”
Frain also appreciates the engagement and structure that LOHF brings to the process. “It’s given the fellows a richer experience, and they appreciate the training,” he says. “We’re able to hone in on clinical skills and professional growth. We’re noticing that the supervisors can provide a more enhanced experience that translates into more intense professional growth.”
Expanding the TEAMCare program also gives supervisors and fellows more options to find the specialty and the personal fit to make the program more rewarding for both supervisors and fellows. Frain explains, “A person trying to get their license may work with somebody and have a bad experience, but they have to stick with them for a certain amount of time, or they are not eligible to sign off on the licensing hours.”
In TEAMCare’s more extensive program, both the fellows and supervisors can adapt in ways that produce better results. “If I’m struggling with a fellow, I have a few other supervisors that I can talk with and consult with.” Frain notes, “We can bounce ideas off each other. There is a certain comfort level among our fellows as well. They know the supervisors also have skin in the game, and we want to help them achieve their goals.”
Is the program working? TEAMCare currently supervises six active fellows. According to Frain, two fellows will become licensed by the end of the year who probably would not have been able to get licensed this year using another program. Frain expects a third to get licensed next spring. “This is a year earlier than expected for two of them and a year and a half earlier for a third,” Frain reports. “I am hoping that by the fall, we are in a better position to provide school districts in Lancaster County with licensed therapists who can take a variety of insurances. We’ll be able to better meet the serious mental health needs in Lancaster County.”
About LOHF Grants
LOHF’s grants elevate youth and children’s mental well-being by supporting local programs that help us answer one or both of our two big questions: How can we build the talent pipeline in behavioral healthcare for youth and children in Lancaster County? And how will we improve access to mental well-being for youth and children in Lancaster County?
We encourage applicants to replicate existing successful models and work collaboratively with others to improve mental health services for youth and children ages birth to 26. Additional funds will be available in Spring 2021. To learn more, please visit http://www.lohf.org/grants.