Interprofessional supervision in social work and psychology in Aotearoa New Zealand

Fiona M. Howard, Liz Beddoe, Aqeela Mowjood


The requirement of professional supervision within the health, justice and social service sector in New Zealand has increased greatly since the advent of the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act (HCPA 2003). As supervision is seen as a key vehicle for continuing development of professional skills, the demand for trained and competent supervisors has increased, with the resultant gap between demand and provision. One solution to this is for practitioners to seek supervision from a suitably matched professional outside the discipline. The limited literature on the practice of interprofessional supervision (IPS), suggests both advantages and limitations. This article presents the results of a survey (N=243) of social workers and psychologists practising IPS in Aotearoa New Zealand. The survey examined the rationale for seeking IPS, attention to function, and the perceived advantages and limitations for the supervisor and supervisee alike. Respondents receiving IPS reported a variety of reasons for seeking it including, but not most importantly, the lack of availability of same-profession supervisor. Respondents believed the advantages included the usefulness of different approaches/perspectives and an increase in knowledge and creative thinking. Disadvantages included that aspects of the supervisee role were not able to be adequately addressed and a lack of shared theories orlanguage.The practice more adequately provided for the formative and restorative functions than normative despite some having IPS as their only form of supervision. Recommendations therefore include ensuring the purpose of IPS is well clarified at the outset; that it is not a standalone practice forless experienced practitioners; that professional guidelines are appropriately flexible to provide for the varied and justifiable rationales and that programmes for appropriate preparation for IPS be developed. Further research is needed, however, to further clarify the specific agenda forseeking IPS including those for whom it is not a preferred or satisfactory approach.


supervision; Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act; professional development; interprofessional supervision;

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