Interprofessional supervision: a matter of difference


  • Allyson Mary Davys University of Auckland



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


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’.

Author Biography

Allyson Mary Davys, University of Auckland

Allyson Davys, registered social worker, has practised social work in a range of social work contexts (statuary, not for profit and private). Her interest in professional supervision spans more than twenty years and includes supervision practice, education and research.  She is particularly interested in supervision as a generic practice and has supervised practitioners and managers from a range of professions and has delivered supervision education in tertiary academic settings and through workplace training workshops to similarly mixed professional groups. More recently she held a senior leadership and management position within a tertiary education institution which delivered professional health and social care qualifications.

Currently she is focussing on research, academic writing and doctoral study. She is a contract lecturer at the University of Auckland and has a small private practice delivering supervision training and providing professional supervision. 


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How to Cite

Davys, A. M. (2017). Interprofessional supervision: a matter of difference. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(3), 79–94.



Original Articles