Supervising the supervisors: What support do first-line supervisors need to be more effective in their supervisory role?


  • Frances Patterson University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, UK



Supervision, reflection, containment, development


INTRODUCTION: Stepping into a supervisory role in social work involves a shift of status, perspective and identity. New supervisors bring skills and experience which can be both asset and hindrance as they make the transition. Frequently they encounter gaps in training, support and supervision as well as dissonance between espoused policy and their own experience. This article identifies ways in which supervisors can be resourced to meet the challenge of their role and, as a result, be better placed to support others. It explores what is involved in supervising the supervisors, drawing on the experience of teaching managers on post-qualifying courses in professional supervision in Scotland.

APPROACH: Themes commonly applied to the supervision of practitioners are explored in relation to those who are one or more steps removed from direct practice; seeking to identify what has shared relevance and what may be distinctive to those in a supervisory role.

CONCLUSION: A congruent approach to support and supervision across all levels of an organisation helps foster a reflective culture which can engage with emotions and with complexity.


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How to Cite

Patterson, F. (2019). Supervising the supervisors: What support do first-line supervisors need to be more effective in their supervisory role?. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 31(3), 46–57.



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