Certified Indigenous Clinical Supervisor in Addictions

The Certified Indigenous Clinical Supervisor in Addictions (CICSA) certification is for professionals who supervise workers and specialists working with addicted individuals and their families.

Supervision is necessary in the substance abuse treatment field to improve client care, develop the professionalism of clinical personnel, and impart and maintain ethical standards in the field. In recent years, especially in the substance abuse field, clinical supervision has become the cornerstone of quality improvement and assurance for health care services.

Ultimately, effective clinical supervision ensures that clients are competently served, and that counselors continue to increase their skills, which in turn increases treatment effectiveness, client retention, and staff satisfaction.

The role and skill set of a clinical supervisor are distinct from those of counsellor and administrator. A Clinical Supervisor is a teacher, coach, consultant, mentor and evaluator.

Although the title “supervisor” is generally used and has been included in the title of this certification, ICBOC strongly prefers the use of the term “mentor” and we might change the title of our certification at one point. The term “supervisor” emphasizes a top-down approach to the job, and hierarchical relationships that are more reflective of western work environments.

Quality clinical supervision is founded on a positive supervisor–supervisee relationship that promotes client welfare and the professional development of the supervisee. While a supervisor is responsible for the quality and effectiveness of workers’ clinical practice, and for addressing the array of psychological, interpersonal, physical, and spiritual issues of clients, the focus of his interventions ought to be providing support, encouragement, guidance and education to clinical staff. In the context of this relationship, the role of the worker is that of an active contributor who:

  • Collaborates in identifying the objectives and activities of the supervisory relationship
  • Assists in solving issues related to their practice or to the supervisory relationship
  • Provides input in regard to his/her own professional development

With higher expectations in the standards of health care, increased attention is being focused on the link between the level of competence required of the workers delivering this care and the level of competence that those who supervise them need to possess.

Competency-based standards for the practice of clinical supervision are crucial to achieve the goal of enhancing the capacity of the indigenous workforce in the field of addictions and mental wellness, and ICBOC’s professional certification ensures that clinical supervisors meet possess the competencies to achieve this goal.

The professional standards and requirements of ICBOC’s clinical supervision certification emphasize the competencies necessary to model, encourage, enhance and verify the translation of a worker’s knowledge and skills into practice that meets professional standards.

The competencies for a clinical supervisor in the context of this certification have been developed with the input of the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation (NNAPF) and the Youth Substance Abuse Committee (YSAC) as well as professionals clinical supervisors in the field. In addition to the other standards and requirements, Clinical supervisors who wish to obtain their ICBOC professional certification are required to demonstrate their competencies in 8 domains or core functions:

  1. Counsellor Evaluation
  2. Professional Development of Counselling Staff
  3. Supervisory Interventions and Education
  4. Program Development
  5. Management and Administration
  6. Ethics and Ethical Decision Making
  7. Documentation and Report Writing
  8. Direct Human Resource Management

The ICBOC integrated laddering certification system provides the opportunity for Certified Indigenous clinical supervisors in addictions the opportunity to reach for certification as a certified Indigenous team leader in addictions services (CITLAS): the applicant’s existing experience, knowledge, skills, will be transferred and counted towards the new certification. It is, however, mandatory to satisfy all the standards and requirements of the new certification, in particular in terms of the education, training and practice, and of the core functions.


Availability of support for supervised workers, and a forum to discuss clinical issues
Maintenance of clinical skills and quality practice
Promotion of standardised performance of core skills across the organisation and/or the field
Improvement and/or attainment of complex clinical skills
Increased job satisfaction and self confidence
Improved communication amongst workers
Improved worker retention
Reduced professional development and administration costs.