Making the connections: A practice model for reflective supervision


  • Matt Rankine University of Auckland



Supervision, reflection, professional social work, social justice


INTRODUCTION: Over several decades, social work in Aotearoa New Zealand has undergone major alterations in service delivery in response to the management of risk and surveillance of practice within the neoliberal government agenda. Working in such an environment, social workers struggle to critically explore their position and professionally develop their practice. To support current professional practice in social work, reflective supervision has become a necessity for analysing and amplifying positive practice outcomes that benefit practitioners and service users.

METHOD: A four-layered practice model of reflective supervision has been developed by the researcher from a theoretical analysis of a study involving key informant and supervisory dyads. The purpose of the reflective supervision model is to support the agenda, task and process in the supervisory relationship towards critical reflection of practice.

FINDINGS: The four-layered practice model highlights the interrelationship between the social worker, the organisation, relationships with others, and the systemic contexts where practice occurs. The supervisee and supervisor have vital roles in order for reflection to occur in each supervision session.

CONCLUSIONS: Reflective supervision is seen as a co-constructed partnership between the supervisor and supervisee and the four-layered practice model assists in providing a structure for the session. The four-layered model supports critical thinking in the socio-political and socio-cultural environment, promotes social justice strategies and has versatility within a number of practice settings.

Author Biography

Matt Rankine, University of Auckland

Matt Rankine works as a Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland in Aotearoa/ New Zealand and is involved in the delivery of Child Protection, Practice Skills papers and Postgraduate Professional Supervision papers. Matt has experience providing external supervision and within social work working with children, young people and families in Aotearoa/New Zealand and in the United Kingdom. 


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How to Cite

Rankine, M. (2017). Making the connections: A practice model for reflective supervision. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(3), 66–78.



Original Articles