Interprofessional supervision: a matter of difference

Allyson Mary Davys

Abstract


INTRODUCTION: With its origins grounded in the apprenticeship tradition it is perhaps notsurprising that social work adheres to a model of supervision where both supervisor and supervisee are social workers and where it is common for social workers to be supervised by their line manager. Interprofessional supervision, where the participants do not share the same profession, and which is frequently external to the social worker’s organisation, therefore presents a challenge to traditional social work supervision practice.

METHODS: Expert stakeholders were interviewed to explore their experiences of
interprofessional supervision. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and topdown analysis employed to identify themes. The views of nine supervisees and nine supervisors are reported.

FINDINGS: The participants represented a range of professions but the data collected revealed common themes. Participants highlighted the importance of being able to choose a supervision partner and to establish a contract where lines of accountability were explicit. Knowledge about supervision was considered vital and supervision competence was expected of the supervisor.
The key benefits were a greater understanding of one’s own profession and an appreciation and respect for difference. Lack of clinical accountability was considered a limitation but not an obstacle.

CONCLUSION: The reports of these participants indicate a shift from supervision as an in-house process to one which is chosen, negotiated and collaborative. Through their awareness of the need for professional development and accountability, the participants demonstrated a depth of professional responsibility and an ability to stand alongside their profession in the presence of ‘other’.


Keywords


interprofessional supervision; choice; process; benefits; limitations; social work

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol29iss3id278

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