Abstract: Social Work Clinical Supervision: Mentoring Social Justice Practice Behaviors (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Social Work Clinical Supervision: Mentoring Social Justice Practice Behaviors

Friday, January 13, 2023
Camelback B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Priscila Norris, MSW, LCSW, LCSW, Doctoral Student, University of Kentucky
Raymond Smith, PhD, Assistant Professor, Concord University, Athens, WV
Background: Social justice is central to the professional values and mission of social work to help those in need and promote social change. Although there are many frameworks for clinical supervision, most come from sister disciplines and do not adequately align with or address this core tenant of social work practice. As a result, a clear pedagogy for incorporating social justice themes and practice behaviors in the clinical supervision of post-graduate supervisees is absent. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to identify and classify specific social justice-related practice behaviors mentored by clinical social work supervisors during supervision.

Methods: We reviewed data collected from a convenience sample of twenty-three (n=23) clinical social work supervisors who have or had provided post-graduate supervision for at least five years prior to data collection. Thematic analysis was selected for this research for the purpose of identifying specific types, patterns, and themes of social justice behaviors that are mentored during clinical social work supervision.

Results: Three unique foci of social justice practice were identified during the analysis: relational dynamics, opportunities for critical conversations, and advocacy and policy change. Relational dynamics included, but were not limited, subsets of behaviors which demonstrated openness and appreciation for supervisee’s identity, ethnic and cultural background, power dynamics, and the co-development of supervision goals, which moderated positions of power within the supervisory relationship. Opportunities for critical conversations primarily included reflexivity and awareness of supervisor and supervisee privilege positions, and introduction of social justice topics. Advocacy and policy change issues were primarily focused on critical considerations of oppressive administrative and public policies, their impact on clients, supervisee leadership, and promoting accessibility to services.

Implications: Findings provide a clearer picture of the specific and practical ways in which social work clinical supervisors introduce, discuss, and model practice behaviors that promote social justice. The identified themes provide valuable insight for practitioners and supervisors who want to increase awareness and competency of social justice-focused clinical social work. Within the supervisory context, these themes can help to guide the development of a social justice-informed framework that will leverage practice behaviors consistent with core social work values. Implications for future research, post-graduate education, supervisory practices are discussed.