Counseling Supervision vs Private Practice Coaching: The Differences You Need to Know

Counseling Supervision vs Business Coaching for Therapists | Private Practice Coach | Supervision in Counseling

Supervision vs Counseling

Doing great work in private practice requires support.  Sometimes you need a great counseling supervision to think through a problem, and other times you need to hire a private practice business coach.  

Knowing which kind of support you need isn't always easy to determine.  I outlined a few key differences below to help you find what you need to grow your counseling practice.  

Counseling Supervision

A counseling supervisor provides consultation to new therapists. They may also advise licensed practitioners in difficult or unique situations.  Supervisors might do any of the following:

  • walk you through professional ethics concerns 

  • help you track pre-licensure hours

  • consult on stuck or tricky cases

  • assist in psychotherapy case consultation

  • advise on methods for treatment with therapy clients

  • support you through countertransference or personal dilemmas that arise in session

  • review diagnostic codes, insurance paneling, or client files

  • review for your licensing exams

  • navigate conversations with your licensing board

Counseling supervisors are ultimately responsible for the well-being of their supervisee's clients.  They keep record of your meetings to help ensure you're on the right track.  As experienced professionals, they also help new counselors develop a professional identity.

This role is critical to success as a new practitioner so it is essential you find a well-qualified supervisor who is a good fit for your work.  I recommend interviewing a few supervisors to assess their fit for your work and professional growth.  Here are a few questions I ask to interview supervisors before working with them:

  • Are you credentialed to provide the kind of supervision I need?

  • Do your specializations and trainings align with my interests and passions in private practice?

  • How do you structure supervision meetings?  How should I prepare for our work together?

  • How often will you review my files, listen to recorded sessions, or view videos of my work for feedback?

  • What can I expect regarding our contact outside of face to face meetings?  What if I need support after hours? 

  • How do you measure success in counseling work?  How do you assess growth in practitioners?

  • What motivates you to work as a supervisor? What have been some of your greatest successes in supervision?  What is your greatest challenge?

Read more about counseling supervision on the APA website

Just like a counseling relationship, it's  imperative you have a strong, trusting relationship with your supervisor. If you feel you can’t tell them things, it may be time to move on. You can change supervisors whenever you like (just be sure to update your licensing board). Your professional development is the key focus here.

Private Practice Coaching

But being a trained clinical supervisor doesn't always mean you know anything about creating a sustainable business in private practice.  Hiring a private practice coach is all about reaching the right clients, marketing online, growing your income, and running a small business in a modern world.  

Coaching is different from supervision in a few key ways:

  • Coaching is not a regulated field, so your coach may not have any certification or training.

  • Coaching is focused on your practice business growth and identity as a business person- not your in-session therapeutic work (diagnostics and stuck cases). 

  • Coaching will not meet your requirements for supervision if you are a pre-licensed or intern counselor (ethics and training requirements). 

  • Coaches can practice beyond state lines so you can meet with one from anywhere if you respect their work. 

Unlike supervision, coaching will help you:

  • Effectively reach the right clients through social media, blogging, and other marketing strategy

  • Develop an integrity-based business plan

  • Create a financial plan for your therapy business to make a decent counseling income

  • Use your time wisely in growing your business by choosing a clear plan

  • Make running a psychotherapy business easier with useful resources, plans, and tools

  • Build an authentic online presence (social media, website, videos etc)

  • Understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or how to get found on google

  • Overcome money blocks and limited thinking about practice growth

Read more about effective business coaching on Forbes.com

If you hire a business coach for private practice, you want to know they are credible and can be trusted with your work.  Because the field of coaching is wide open there are a lot of folks offering coaching services with varying degrees of training.  

Similar to supervision, hiring a coach means taking your counseling business seriously.  It's really important you interview a few coaches to assess their skills and match for your private practice needs.  Here are a few questions I recommend asking:

  • What qualifies you to coach private practice therapists?  Do you have any coaching certifications or training?

  • Have you built or run a financially sustainable private practice?

  • What formal training do you have in marketing, business, or social media?

  • What can I expect regarding our contact outside of face to face meetings?  What if I need support after hours? 

  • How do you assess growth in the business of counseling?

  • What motivates you to work as a coach? What have been some of your greatest successes in coaching?  What is your greatest challenge?

  • What specific business-building issues have you helped previous coaching clients overcome?

I believe if you take your private practice business seriously you will require the services of both a supervisor and a coach.  Find supervisors near you by checking with your local licensing board.  Find a coach through the International Coach Federation website, or give me a call for a consultation and I can support you or refer you to another coach.  


Gina Senarighi is a business coach for therapists, social media strategist, and author. With careful planning and strategic marketing, in under one year she lead three thriving therapy practices.  

Gina has quickly become a trusted voice on authenticity in marketing as an author, teacher, and guest expert on local and national media. 

Due to her successes in therapy business she's been coaching other therapists to grow their counseling practices with ease and integrity.   

Join her Daring Way for Therapists Retreat or online coaching community for therapists and start building the practice of your dreams.