10 tips for counting and tracking your counseling internship hours

Feb 11, 2015 by

laptopCompleting your counseling internship requires keeping track of a lot of things.

I was never so grateful for my strange love of spreadsheets as when I was a counseling intern.

I had about a billion things to keep track of and it really helped me out.

And with all those things you have to keep track of, it’s easy to let little details slip through the cracks.

That time you spent treatment planning and looking up mindfulness exercises online for your client?

The extra 15 minutes you spent consulting on the phone with the parent of a teen client in crisis?

Easy to forget to “count” that time if it isn’t tied to a 50 minute appointment and note at the end of the day.

And the last thing you want to do is work hard and then not give yourself credit for it, right?

So, whether you love tracking data or hate it, here are 10 sanity-saving tips for counting and tracking your hours during internship.

1.) Give yourself full credit for indirect hours. Most interns are clear on what counts as a “direct” hour during internship. You’re doing therapy—there’s not a whole lot of gray area in that.

But as I’ve discussed in an earlier post, people tend to cheat themselves out of hours by underestimating what kinds of activities count for indirect hours. Don’t make that mistake!! — you can read more about that here.

2.) Tally your hours daily. It’s not the most glamorous job in the world—record-keeping and red tape isn’t what got you into the profession, after all. You like working with people.

But having good paperwork hygiene habits and tracking your hours each day will ensure that you give yourself full credit for all the work you’ve done each week. Just like taking notes after session, the longer you wait, the more those details fade.

3.) Know your state’s rules on phone and internet counseling. Even though I said direct hours are a bit of a no-brainer in tip #1, that’s not totally true. State licensing boards are not all in agreement about whether or not you can count any counseling services that are rendered by phone or online.

LPC interns in Texas, for example, can have up to 10% of their direct hours be by phone or other electronically-assisted means. But some other states won’t count direct hours unless they are face to face, no matter what. Be sure you’re clear on this and ask your supervisor if you’re unsure.

4.) Keep track of your supervision hours. Some states or licenses have a broad requirement for supervision during internship. “Get supervision weekly for the duration of your internship” is sometimes the rule. And sometimes the rule is, “Get 200 hours of supervision, but it only counts if it’s on a Tuesday, and only when the moon is full.”

But seriously—some licenses and states require a core number of hours of supervision. Often there are rules about how much of your supervision can be in a group, if any. So, know those rules and keep an accurate tally of every supervision session you have—and what kind of format it is in, if you’re mixing group and individual.

5.) Make sure your supervisor gets the all-clear. Speaking of supervision, did you know that some states let you get supervision from just about any kind of mental health provider, so long as they’re licensed as a supervisor within their respective field?

And other states or license types may require that you get supervision from someone who has the same license you do, no exceptions. And sometimes you can have a blend—some of your supervision may be done by someone with a different license, but not all. Check with your board before you hire your supervisor—or before you get assigned one.

6.) Couples and families and children. Some licenses with a specialty focus, like Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, require interns and associates to differentiate between different types of clinical hours—hours spent with families, children, couples, and individuals.

Many state licensing boards have a quota requiring you have a certain amount of exposure working with families and couples if you’re pursuing this particular license. Couples don’t tend to stay in therapy as long as individuals do, so you want to make sure you aren’t forgetting to record even one of those hours!! So stay on top of your tally (see tip #2).

7.) Submitting your hours regularly. No, not to the board! Usually your board doesn’t want to hear about your hours until after your internship is completed and often they just want a simple summary sheet that you and your supervisor sign off on.

But, your supervisor should be getting an account of your hours at least once a month. In many cases, they’re required to sign off on your hours weekly—that’s the case in Texas for LPC-interns. So, submit your hours log to your supervisor regularly for review.

8.) Neglect not the notes column. Everyone has a different format for keeping hours. Mine always had some sort of “notes” column. Why? Because if I got audited and had to recall a year or more later, I wanted some sort of record of what I was doing that day. Which clients was I seeing? What was the title of training I attended and gave myself credit for?

You keep records for your own sake, but also in case you get audited. Generally it’s better to have more detail rather than less when it comes to records like these. So have a “notes” column where you can jot a few descriptive phrases about what you did that day & who you saw.

9.) Keep it confidential. When using the notes column (see tip #8), be sure not to list identifying information about your clients. Keep it simple and record initials or, at most, first name last initial. The less identifying information you have published, the better.

10.) Copies of copies. One of my favorite tips about record-keeping. It’s a bummer to keep excellent records and then somehow have them go up in smoke.  But mistakes do happen and computers do crash.

Back up your records if they’re on your computer, or have a paper copy handy somewhere, or better yet—do both. It’s one more great reason to have your supervisor hanging onto a paper or electronic copy of your records, too—just in case.

Have any sanity-saving tips to share about counting and tracking hours? Please share in the comments below!

Related Posts


Share This

1 Comment

  1. Cynthia

    Thanks for sharing and it was good info. : )