Talking About Practice in Supervision
'I know that when responsibility feels shared, and when there is a joint investment and a journey I can travel on with my supervisor, I feel safer in making changes, in thinking outside the box, in trying something different and in holding and containing more risk and pain...The supervisory relationship gives me strength. I walk away from the process feeling taller and braver.'

(Leanne Boylan, New Beginnings Stockport)

Providing a safe space for social workers to critically explore their work with children and families in supervision is a central element of the practice supervisor role. Whilst group supervision models are also used, the most common approach in social work is for the practice supervisor and social worker to meet for one-to-one supervision discussions. However, social workers report that their experience of this can be variable.

It is widely acknowledged that for supervision to be effective it should be reflective and that it should include critical analysis, reflection and emotional support. To a large extent this is dependent on the skills, knowledge and availability of the practice supervisor.

The resources in this section are organised into two areas:

  • The Role and Functions of Supervision – this section focuses on the key elements and purpose of supervision and helps you to explore how you can work more effectively as a supervisor. Tools are also provided which you can use as discussion prompts with your team to explore their expectations and experiences of supervision.
  • Having Reflective Discussions in Supervision – this section considers what factors need to be in place to promote reflection in supervision. Here the tools and resources will help you to try out different ways of structuring reflective discussions in supervision.

Each area contains a knowledge briefing for practice supervisors and learning tools.

The learning resources in this section will prompt you to:

  • Examine the evidence base about the role and function of supervision in child and family social work.
  • Audit and review your strengths and learning needs in respect of the supervision you provide.
  • Understand how you can use tools and ideas (some of which are drawn from systemic practice) to facilitate reflective discussions in supervision.

Briefing for Senior Managers

This short briefing is written specifically for senior leaders. It presents a summary of key recommendations about how senior leaders can support practice supervisors to ensure that they provide reflective and critically analytical supervision discussions leading to excellent social work practice.

Webinar icon Webinar - Is There a Future for Reflective Supervision in Child and Family Social Work?

In this webinar Dr David Wilkins presents his research findings about what makes for good supervision in the context of child and family social work.