Registered social workers who are supervisors: A national survey

Kieran B. O’Donoghue


INTRODUCTION: Aotearoa New Zealand registered social workers who supervise are expected to provide supervision in accordance with the Social Workers Registration Board standards. This article aims to establish baseline about supervisors and their supervision.

METHODS: A national postal survey of 278 registered social workers supervision gathered data about the background, experiences and views of 138 supervisors. The quantitative data were analysed using IBM SPSS 24. One-way ANOVA and post hoc tests were applied to explore variances in means for the independent variables of type of registration, area of practice, gender, age, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, recognised qualifications, experience as social worker, experience as a supervisor, and supervisory training and education across six scales concerned with the respondents’ provision of supervision.

FINDINGS: The findings provide baseline demographic information about the supervisors, as well as descriptions of their supervisory practice. This includes information regarding the forms, logistics, types of contact, the approaches and models used, session processes and their overall satisfaction and evaluation of the supervision they provide.

CONCLUSIONS: The article concludes that most supervisors provided supervision that is typical of individual, clinical or professional supervision and was aligned with professional standards. Questions were raised concerning the predominance of non-Māori supervisors and the cultural relevancy, safety and responsiveness of supervisors to Māori. Suggestions are made regarding the development of the supervisory workforce. Areas for further research are identified regarding the differences in supervisory practice related to fields of practice, ethnicity, experience, qualifications and training.


supervision, social work, supervisors, cultural responsiveness

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