Session: Research on Supervision for Social Work Practice (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

333 Research on Supervision for Social Work Practice

Sunday, January 19, 2020: 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
Liberty Ballroom K, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Social Work Practice (SWP)
Symposium Organizer:
Karen Sewell, PhD(c), MSW, University of Toronto
Marion Bogo, O.C., LL.D., MSW, RSW, University of Toronto
The supervision of staff in direct practice has held a valued position within the discipline of social work and across the helping professions as it is viewed as a service component which fosters workers' knowledge, skill, and provides support. However, the evidence-base of supervision has been labelled as “weak”, or more generously as “foundational”. In a limited manner, supervision of staff has been shown to contribute to improved worker outcomes, has recently been associated with enhanced client engagement, and while in no way definitive, has been linked to better client outcomes. Through implementation science, supervision of staff has also been identified as a factor in enhancing organizational outcomes, as well as sustaining the implementation of evidence-supported treatments (ESTs). Supervision has been said to support program effectiveness and elevate the quantity and quality of supervision within community agencies through being embedded in ESTs. However, there are many unanswered questions regarding how supervision is offered in direct practice. Clarity regarding supervision has been called for, as supervision typically occurs within a “black box”- without articulation of what actually occurs within supervision including the models used, processes, duration, and frequency. While there is conceptual and limited empirical support for supervision, little is known about the actual practice of supervision in community-based settings, or within many ESTs. Additionally, the supervision provided in efficacy studies has not always been clearly articulated, nor have the differences between supervision occurring within efficacy studies and community-based settings. This lack of clear conceptualization of supervision in practice and in empirical studies can lead to difficulty researching this valued component in social work services, impeding the further development of its evidence-base and contribution to the effective implementation of ESTs. With relevance for direct practice across the lifespan, the papers in this symposium highlight research providing insight into contemporary supervision in practice. An orientation to the current supervision research will be provided, including challenges experienced in seeking scholarship for a Special Issue of the Clinical Social Work Journal on this topic. The first paper will then present a descriptive study of supervision in practice within an EST for children and their families in Canada, focusing on frequency, modality, content, and value both from a supervisor and worker perspective. The second presenter will share a mixed-methods study examining supervisory strategies to embed an evidence-based intervention (i.e., person-centred care planning) into routine practice in the context of behavioral health settings. The third presenter will speak to the acceptability and feasibility of a model of supervision in practice– the Supervisory Leaders in Aging (SLA) program of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) designed to improve gerontological services by strengthening supervision of the social service workforce. This paper will also present an evaluation of the innovative MSW supervisors development program - Social Work Practice Fellows. All presenters will share practice implications and recommendations for future research on supervision in practice.

* noted as presenting author
Supervisory Strategies to Promote the Delivery of Person-Centered Care in Behavioral Health Settings
Mimi Choy-Brown, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Victoria Stanhope, PhD, New York University
Pilot Study Findings from Two Innovative Models of Training for Social Work Supervisors
Daniel Kaplan, PhD, Adelphi University; Christin Sauter, MSW, Adelphi University; Natalie Brooks Wilson, MSW, Adelphi University
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