Expectations of social workers towards supervision as a response to the complexity and uncertainty of the practice
The importance and necessity of supervision as a consultancy for professional staff justifies an understanding that in the social services sector the success of the work depends to a large extent on the successful cooperation between employees and management, also between qualified professionals and their service users. It is expected that the results of the empirical research will be presented that will provide conditions for the professional supervisors working in the professional field of the social work sector to reflect their experience and to respond more specifically to the expectations of social workers for professional supervision. Social work and supervision have been interrelated since the beginning of professional social work. Social work in contemporary society is facing an increasingly complex and constantly changing environment. Social workers have emotional difficulties in assessing and helping a specific person due to the complexity of systemic or organizational differences, a variety of practical situations and social services, social workers’ and the service users’ knowledge or psychological differences. Supervision as a professional consultation is used as a supplementary instrument to support the process of formation and reflection, organizational change processes and organizational development. The aim of the article is to analyze the social workers’ expectations for supervision based on social work supervision function theory focusing on administrative, learning, and supportive supervision functions and their separate elements. There was a quantitative web survey implemented on supervision. 250 social workers from broad spectrum of social work practice and geographical locations completed the questionaire. Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS24 software. Descriptive statistics (mean analysis), rating variables, and ANOVA test were applied to analyze the relationship between the demographic and content variables. The results provide evidence that there are no significant differences between administrative, learning, and supportive supervision. However, significant differences in expectations towards supervision were evident between respondents experienced in supervision and not. Also, the higher the education of the respondents, the bigger the expectations towards the supervision. In this study, the majority of the respondents had an experience in group supervision.
They expressed expectations for a safe environment, a sense of security and trust, hoping to experience empathy with their own and loss of burnout symptoms and personal growth, and etc. Individual supervision is a safe place for the discussion about ethical dilemmas. Those respondents who had experience in team supervision considered that team supervision is a place to improve relationship between colleagues. The results of the study have methodological limitations; however, it is considered that the study will give input in the development of social work supervision theory and practice in Lithuanian context.
Keywords: social work clinical supervision, complexity of social work.