The supervision of registered social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand: A national survey

Kieran B. O’Donoghue


INTRODUCTION: Registered social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand are expected to participate in supervision in accordance with the Social Workers Registration Board’s policies. This article reports baseline findings on the supervision of registered social workers, comparing their supervision with the Board’s policy and guidelines.

METHODS: A postal survey of 278 registered social workers was conducted to establish a baseline regarding their supervision. IBM SPSS 24 was used to analyse the data. Descriptive analysis, one-way ANOVA and post hoc tests were applied to explore variances in means for the independent variables of registration type, gender, age, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, recognised qualifications, and experience as social worker across 11 scales concerning the respondents’ supervision.

FINDINGS: The findings report demographic information about the supervisees as well as a description of the supervision they participated in. This includes detail about various aspects of supervision, including forms, overall emphasis, logistics, types of contact, climate, methods and processes, experiences of their supervisor’s approaches and models, session processes and content and their overall satisfaction and evaluation.

CONCLUSIONS: While most registered social workers’ supervision is in accordance with the Board’s expectations and Code of Conduct, further work is needed to ensure all registered social workers participate in appropriate supervision that meets these expectations. Concerns are raised about the cultural responsiveness of supervision in relation to supervisees and clients. Suggestions are made concerning further research in relation to the influence of gender, culture, sexual orientation, experience, qualifications, and registration status within supervision.


supervision, social work, registration

Full Text:



Autagavaia, M. (2001). A Tagata Pasifika supervision process: Authenticating difference. In L. Beddoe & J. Worrall (Eds.), Supervision conference 7–8 July 2000 – From rhetoric to reality. Keynote address and selected papers (pp. 45–53). Auckland, NZ: Auckland College of Education.

Caspi, J., & Reid, W. (2002). Educational supervision in social work: A task-centred model for field instruction and staff development. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Chernesky, R. (1986). A new model of supervision. In N. Van Den Bergh & L. Cooper (Eds.), Feminist visions for social work (pp. 128–148). Silver Spring, MD: NASW Press.

Dalhousie, S. (2010). Editorial. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 22(4), 1–4. doi: vol22iss4id173

Davys, A., & Beddoe, L. (2010). Best practice in professional supervision: A guide for the helping professions. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Davys, A. M., May, J., Burns, B., & O’Connell, M. (2017). Evaluating social work supervision. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(3), 108–121. doi:10.11157/anzswj-vol29iss3id314

De Vaus, D. (2014). Surveys in social research (6th ed.). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

Eruera, M. (2012). He ko ̄rari, he kete, he kōrero. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 24(3-4), 12-19. doi:

Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Hair, H. J., & O’Donoghue, K. (2009). Culturally relevant, socially just social work supervision: Becoming visible through a social constructionist lens. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 18, (1/2) 70–88. doi:10.1080/15313200902874979

Helms, J., Henze, K., Sass, L., & Mifsud, V. (2006). Treating Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficients as data in counseling research. The Counseling Psychologist, 34(5), 630–660.

Henrickson, M., Neville, S., Jordan, C., & Donaghey, S. (2007). Lavender islands. Journal of Homosexuality, 53(4), 223–248. doi:10.1080/00918360802103514

Hipp, J., & Munson, C. (1995). The partnership model: A feminist supervision/consultation perspective. The Clinical Supervisor, 13(1), 23–38.

Kadushin, A. (1974). Supervisor–supervisee: A survey. Social Work, 19(3), 288–297. doi:10.1093/sw/19.3.288

Kadushin, A. (1993). Social work supervision: An updated survey. The Clinical Supervisor, 10(2), 9–27. doi:10.1300/J001v10n02_02

Kadushin, A., & Harkness, D. (2014). Supervision in social work (5th ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from

Matheson, J. (1999). The process of social work supervision: Women’s perspectives. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Calgary, Alberta, Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International.

O’Donoghue, K. (2013). Editorial: The Social Workers Registration Act (2003)—10 years on. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 25(3), 1–2.

O’Donoghue, K. (2008). Towards improving social work supervision in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 20(1), 10–21.

O’Donoghue, K. (2010). Towards the construction of social work supervision in Aotearoa New Zealand: A study of the perspectives of social work practitioners and supervisors (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Palmerston North: Massey University. handle/10179/1535

O’Donoghue, K., Munford, R., & Trlin, A. (2005). Mapping the territory: Supervision within the association. Social Work Review, 17(4), 46–64.

O’Donoghue, K., Munford, R., & Trlin, A. (2006). What’s best about social work supervision according to association members. Social Work Review, 18(3), 79–91.

O’Donoghue, K., & Tsui, M. S. (2012). Towards a professional supervision culture: The development of social work supervision in Aotearoa New Zealand. International Social Work, 55(1), 5–28.

doi: 10.1177/0020872810396109

O’Donoghue, K., & Tsui, M. S. (2015). Social work supervision research (1970–2010): The way we were and the way ahead. The British Journal of Social Work, 45(2), 616–633. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bct115

Pallant, J. (2013). SPSS survival guide (5th ed.). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Ruwhiu, P. (2019). Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds: Wetekia te mau here o te hinengaro, ma t tou an e whakaora, e whakaw tea te hinengaro (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Massey University: Palmerston North.

Schmitt, N. (1996). Uses and abuses of coefficient alpha. Psychological Assessment, 8(4), 350–353.

Simmons, H. (2001). Let the symbol speak: Developing a feminist spiral model of supervision. In L. Beddoe & J. Worrall (Eds.), Supervision conference from rhetoric to reality keynote address and selected papers (pp. 177–185). Auckland, NZ: Auckland College of Education.

Social Workers Registration Board. (2015a). Supervision expectations for registered social workers: Policy statement. Retrieved from supervision-expectations-for-registered-social-workers/

Social Workers Registration Board. (2015b). Annual report presented to the House of Representatives pursuant to section 150 of the Crown Entities Act 2004, 2014–2015. Retrieved from annual-report-2014-2015/

Social Workers Registration Board. (2016). Code of Conduct. Retrieved from of-conduct-march-2016/

Statistics New Zealand. (2017a). 2013 Census information by variable. Retrieved from Census/2013-census/info-about-2013-census-data/ information-by-variable/sex.aspx

Statistics New Zealand. (2017b). Preliminary view of 2018 census content: For public engagement and consultation. Retrieved from 2018-census/prelim-content/proposed-topics.aspx

Su’a-Hawkins, A., & Mafile’o, T. (2004). What is cultural supervision? Social Work Now, 29, 10–16.

Thomas, C., & Davis, S. (2005). Bicultural strengths-based supervision. In M. Nash, R. Munford, & K. O’Donoghue (Eds.), Social work theories in action (pp. 189–204). London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Thomas, F. (2013). Solution focused supervision—A resource-oriented approach to developing clinical expertise. New York, NY: Springer.

Walsh-Tapiata, W., & Webster, J. (2004). Do you have a supervision plan? Te Komako VII, Social Work Review, 16(2), 15–19.

Watkins, C. E. (2011). Psychotherapy supervision since 1909: Some friendly observations about its first century. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy 41(1), 57–67.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.