Abstract: Integrative Continuing Education for Field Supervisors to Support Clinical Development of Master of Social Work Students (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Integrative Continuing Education for Field Supervisors to Support Clinical Development of Master of Social Work Students

Friday, January 13, 2023
Hospitality 1 - Room 443, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Ryan Petros, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Jessica Lapham, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Washington
Stacey De Fries, MSW, Associate Teaching Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Background and Purpose: Behavioral health practitioners identify supervision as the most important factor in their professional development but overwhelmingly report the receipt of inadequate or harmful supervision. While field education is the signature pedagogy of social work education, there is no standardized mechanism to ensure field supervisors are well-trained in the provision of clinical supervision or trained in the same clinical modalities as social work students who require supervision.

Methods: To improve the quality of supervision provided, a pilot continuing education (CE) program consisting of two full-day trainings and six-monthly coaching calls was implemented with nine field supervisors. The CE program provided training in clinical supervision and Master of Social Work curricular content regarding recovery and motivational interviewing (MI). Feasibility and clinical impact were evaluated through pre-post assessments prior to beginning the training (T1) and within two weeks of completion (T2) and via individual interviews at T2 lasting between 25 and 45 minutes. Thorough field notes were recorded during interviews, capturing as many verbatim quotes as possible, and converted into expanded field notes in the hour immediately following interviews. Subsequently, a survey of active field supervisors with a response rate of 48.4% (n=125) was conducted using REDCap to triangulate general preferences for CE. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis and quantitative data were analyzed with descriptive statistics as well as logistic and ordinal regression models.

Results: Participants who received the training gained confidence (p<.05) and knowledge in the spirit (p<.01) and skills (p<.001) of MI. While participants described initial reactions of disdain when role-plays were introduced in the training, they ultimately identified role-plays and facilitator modeling as key features that produced practice change, including their own use of parallel process – using MI as a way to teach MI – as they provided clinical supervision to social work students. Survey respondents indicated CE preferences for in-depth content lasting at least half-day rather than brief overviews of topics, with preferences for didactic content over role-play.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest that a CE program for field supervisors that integrates classroom content and strategies for the effective delivery of clinical supervision is feasible. While those who completed the training underscored the importance of role-plays for producing practice change, survey respondents reported preferences for passive, didactic instruction rather than role-play in spite of preferences for in-depth content. Success in CE recruitment and the production of practice change may depend on addressing and reducing field supervisors’ discomfort with the idea of role-play. Moreover, effective delivery of CE programming may require trainers who are themselves adept at engaging parallel process during the training in order to provide a template for clinical supervisors to learn and adopt practices consistent with parallel process in their own delivery of clinical supervision.