Towards the construction of social work supervision in Aotearoa New Zealand : a study of the perspectives of social work practitioners and supervisors : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This thesis presents the construction of social work supervision from the perspectives of social work practitioners and supervisors. In particular, the research explored how social work supervision was constructed, the influence of the Aotearoa New Zealand context upon its construction, and where and how social work supervision can most effectively be improved. In order to provide a background for informed analysis and discussion of the research findings, key themes within the international and Aoteaoroa New Zealand supervision literature were discussed. The thesis was a mixed methods study that was informed by a constructionist conceptual framework with regard to the framing and exploration of the research questions. The methodological approach used was derived from pragmatism and involved a combination of survey research with qualitative individual interviews, with the survey being used to recruit and purposefully select participants for the individual interviews. The key findings from the study were: a) social work supervision was predominantly constructed from a professional standpoint, with the social, organisational and interpersonal context influencing how supervision was produced in any setting at anytime; b) the Aotearoa New Zealand context influenced supervision through the discourses of biculturalism and indigenous development, with multiculturalism being a secondary influence; and c) that improvements were needed in the professional and organisational systems that support supervision as well as in the practice and provision of it. The implications and recommendations arising from these findings focus on social work supervision theory and practice, cultural competence and the further development of professional supervision. From these implications it is suggested that the future research and development agenda for social work supervision both internationally and within Aotearoa New Zealand concerns theory-building, responding to the dynamics of culture and difference within supervision and the professionalisation of supervision. The recommendations related to the professionalisation of supervision concern: formal education and training; the role of supervision within organisations and contribution to organisational development; and the need for a stronger evidence-base regarding supervision’s contribution to client practice and social worker well-being and development.
Social work supervision