Defining moments in practice. Clinical supervision as a method of promoting critical reflection in fieldwork: A qualitative inquiry


  • Margaret Pack Associate Professor and Theme Leader of the Social Work, Community and Humanitarian Studies School of Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia.



social work education, field education, supervision,


In 2008, as coordinator and lecturer of a postgraduate allied mental health programme, I asked clinical supervisors and their supervisees who were completing the programme what their ‘most difficult’ practice scenario taken to supervision had been as part of a research project approved for ethics by Victoria University.

Secondly, I asked clinical supervisees and clinical supervisors about how they had re- solved or dealt with this practice issue. The aim of the research was to determine if the self reflective and reflexive process described by Napier and Fook (2001) and Gardner (2009) was experienced by the social workers and occupational therapists completing their post- graduate studies. The results indicate that for students, through discussing complex and difficult cases in clinical supervision, they came to view their practice both more positively and more self reflectively and reflexively through engagement in clinical supervision. For supervisors, the most difficult scenarios for those who were the students’ line managers involved navigating a mixed role that balanced providing performance feedback in addition to clinical supervision. The implications for clinical supervision as the method of learning in fieldwork education are discussed. 


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How to Cite

Pack, M. (2016). Defining moments in practice. Clinical supervision as a method of promoting critical reflection in fieldwork: A qualitative inquiry. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 23(4), 45–54.