Supervision vs. Consultation

A question that often arises is the difference between supervision versus consultation. The main differences are relational and a matter of legal liability.

A clinical supervisor is legally liable and responsible for all the actions of their supervisees, which includes:

  • knowing full details of client cases
  • assisting with interventions
  • monitoring the progress of clients
  • managing ethical issues of supervisees
  • overall quality of care of clients

In a supervisory relationship, a supervisor is practically conducting the treatment, even though they may have never met the client, but still take on the full responsibility for treatment.  The legal liability will also depend on each state’s regulations.

A consultant, on the other hand, does not bare the same legal liability or responsibility as a supervisor. A therapist typically contracts a consultant for feedback or advice, and usually in a specific field of practice, such as EMDR or DBT. A consultee does not reveal as much personal information about a client to the consultant. A consultant only needs to know just enough information to provide the proper feedback for a case.

For example, in the case of EMDR consultation, an EMDR consultant will only provide case feedback and advise pertaining to the EMDR treatment, but not other specialty areas unless that consultant happens to be trained in other areas.

A supervisor, on the other hand, will directly oversee the supervisee’s course of treatment for a client depending on what the supervisor specializes in. In some cases, if a supervisor is not trained in EMDR, they may instruct their supervisee not to use EMDR, even if that supervisee is trained in EMDR due to liability issues.

For EMDR Therapists who want feedback or advise on the use of EMDR Therapy with their clients, they can either check our EMDR EMDR Therapist Directory for a list of available EMDRIA Approved Consultants, or the EMDR Therapist Directory offered by EMDR International Organization (EMDRIA.org)