The possibilities and challenges for supervision in social work contexts: Developing an international understanding
In 2012 four researchers from New Zealand (Liz Beddoe), England (Gillian Ruch), Finland (Synnove Karvinen-Niinikoski) and Hong Kong (Ming-Sum Tsui) met to discuss the current state of international understanding of supervision in the social work domain. Arising out of these initial conversations we decided to explore the state of supervision research. The following shared understandings, concerns and gaps in knowledge were identified:
• Recognition of the centrality of supervision for good practice
• The need for a global map of supervisory practices
• Acknowledgement of the threats and challenges to supervision associated with economic conditions and new public management practices
• The paucity of a coherent research agenda, including the lack of attention paid to identifying key areas for research and appropriate research methodologies
Given the breadth in understanding and implementation of social work across the globe and its distinctive shape in specific national settings supervision is likely to be very different across these diverse contexts. It is in light of this complex picture that we need to explore if there is a common core to how supervision is understood and operationalised. In order to engage with and develop further the issues arising from our initial discussions we are proposing, therefore, to conduct a Delphi Survey with the aim of establishing an international consensus on the research and development agenda for social work supervision.
The research question underpinning this study is:
What should be on the agenda for research and development of supervision in social work?