Talking about supervision: conversations in Bolzano and London

We’ve been busy in April. On April 16 we presented about our study, with some preliminary findings at the 4th European Conference for Social Work Research at the Free University of Bozen – Bolzano in Italy. Here’s a photo of three of the team planning the next steps (from the left Liz, Synnove and Gillian.

photo (5)We have enjoyed the opportunity to talk with researchers, practitioners, educators and students in several countries now and we’ll meet more in Melbourne in July.

In London, as reported in the previous post, Liz gave a seminar and some of the preliminary topics our study participants feel need research attention are listed there. At the end of the seminar Liz asked the audience these two questions:

What are your top two challenges for supervision?

What do you think should be researched?

Audience members then held their own spirited and enthusiastic discussions about these questions. We gathered up some of their ideas on sticky notes and here’s a brief summary of the topics and ideas suggested. Thanks so much to Jo Finch for organising and the great audience for your participation. Here’s what you said:

 In a time of austerity, high caseloads and increasing problems, the organisation is often satisfied with a ‘good enough’ (work task) rather than seeking excellence. This tends to reduce supervision to a control function rather than aspiring to best practice (seminar participant, London)


It’s a big ask to combine education, managerialism and emotional support in one-for both supervisor and supervisee- is it even possible to do all three well? (seminar participant, London)

Supervision faces the challenges of:

An anti-reflective culture where emotion about practice is feared

Being more than a tick-box exercise)

Being taken seriously by management and valued by all

Supervision power dynamics, including race, culture, gender and religion

Time and workload constraints

Ensuring emotional support for staff

The quality of students/graduates

Ensuring focus on linking theory to practice

Supervisee input and preparation

Pressure to be always doing never thinking

Research topics we think important are:

Supervision power dynamics, including race, gender and religion

The impact of line managers supervising

Cross cultural supervision dynamics

Links between ‘clinical’ and ‘business supervision’ models

What supervisor qualities contribute to/ promote truly reflective supervision?

Social work practitioners’ willingness to be supervised

What works- evaluating supervision

Exploring other modes- group supervision for busy times

To have more experts from more countries to be able to stand by any claims of ‘international consensus’

Who defines supervision in various contexts and countries?

Observational studies to understand what happens in good supervision

Issues and challenges for supervision in social work education included:

Working with students to identify and value reflective practice

The motivation of students to learn



2 thoughts on “Talking about supervision: conversations in Bolzano and London

  1. Pingback: Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision | meta4RN

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