“Many supervisions”: Second phase of supervision survey coming soon

People who participated in the first round of the Delphi study will receive an invitation to participate in the second round soon. The first phase of the study revealed strong international interest in supervision as a practice within social work, with a focus on reflection rather than administration. It was also discernible that supervision needs scholarly inquiry and development. We have a couple of articles in preparation, one focusing on our literature review of articles over 2008-2014, the other exploring the findings of the first survey. But for now here are a few additional points. Participants recommended scholarly activity to explore the ongoing tensions about the role of supervision and the balance of its functions as the profession responds to the impacts of neo-liberalist management and austerity measures on practice.  Participants recognised that in refocusing of the practice of supervision, proponents will still need to integrate reflective and educative functions alongside some administrative necessities. As such the evolution of reflective supervisory practice will remain an ongoing challenge.  Participants noted that supervision is a costly exercise and in austere times needs to be able to demonstrate effectiveness and outcomes. As always in research it is important to note the limitations. In a small study such we acknowledge that those who have answered have demonstrated prior interest and enthusiasm about supervision. There are limitations of population size, geographical spread and the inevitable bias present in our selection of invitees. We note that the concept of supervision might be understood and indeed utilised in many different ways. As one participant told us:

I suspect there are many supervisions rather than one supervision in social work.  Supervision in social work needs to engage with local and global knowledges to assist social workers wherever they are to maintain their focus on meeting the practical and emotional needs of the  individuals, families and communities they serve, in an economic climate where this is increasingly difficult.(participant)

The next step in this study is to conduct the phase two round. In this process the Delphi participants are sent a second questionnaire and are asked to review the findings developed from the responses of all invited participants in the first phase. Participants in this stage will be encouraged to address any issues or debates in their locations, thus enriching the synthesis of the emerging consensus or indeed significant divides.  Phase Two of our research will offer participants the opportunity to offer more detailed narratives of their perspectives on supervision within their national context. Drawing on Phase One findings and the literature we will be particularly interested in focusing on international narratives on the purpose and function of supervision, and the role of accreditation and training for supervisors across the countries in the study. An additional question will address the needs of supervisees from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. In this way we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the “many supervisions” within the reach of the profession.


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