Supervision is a topic of considerable interest in social work at present. Supervision is seen as a vital activity for meeting many professional demands: the continuing development of professional skills, the safeguarding of competent and ethical practice and the oversight of casework. A strong research base is necessary to ensure that there is empirical support for supervision as a core practice in social work (O’Donoghue & Tsui, 2013).
This is a significant challenge to those of us who are committed to teaching and research about supervision. 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 in social work
- The need for a global map of social work 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.
The project team sought to access the views of colleagues with and interest in supervision research and development in social work and a Delphi study seemed to offer a fruitful method. We have set up a new blog to support the project. You’re welcome to visit to find out more here.
O’Donoghue, K., & Tsui, M.-s. (2013). Social work supervision research (1970–2010): The way we were and the way ahead. British Journal of Social Work. 10.1093/bjsw/bct115