The execution of individual reflective supervision sessions: Experiences of intermediate frontline social workers

Chibaya, Nyasha Hillary (2018-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Existing literature on supervision has failed to make provision for comprehensive information in regard to social work individual reflective supervision sessions and how to subsequently execute them. Reflective supervision has over the years received less and less attention on a global scale. This has been a consequence of neoliberalism with its sole focus on effectiveness and efficiency of management. Social workers all over the world have increasingly expressed concerns about the diminishing availability and poor quality of supervision inter alia. Consequently, protests by social work professionals have been witnessed in different parts of the world, demanding better working conditions inter alia. Against this background, this research study was aimed at understanding the experiences of intermediate frontline social workers in regard to the execution of social work individual reflective supervision sessions in South Africa. A qualitative research approach was utilized in order to capture detailed accounts of intermediate frontline social workers in regard to their experiences of the execution of individual reflective supervision sessions. Descriptive and exploratory research designs were used to substantiate the capturing of various narratives from the participants. A snow-ball sampling method was utilized for the purpose of this study. Twenty participants were interviewed utilizing semi-structured interviews. Data gathered was analyzed using a thematic content analysis approach. This research document contains two literature chapters. The first literature chapter attempts to formulate a conceptual framework for individual supervision of intermediate frontline social workers. The second literature chapter details various reflection tools and techniques that can be used in executing individual reflective supervision sessions. Chapter four of this research study contains the empirical study. The results from data collected from participants and literature are presented in an integrated manner. Chapter five contains the conclusions and recommendations of the research study. The main conclusions drawn from the findings established that social work professionals are working under unfavourable conditions where they are expected to continuously meet organisational targets and manage heavy caseloads. Social work professionals continue to receive less frequent and poor quality individual supervision. Alternatively, "on the run" supervision which is only available for urgent matters that require the supervisor's attention has become more common in social service organisations. There is little to no practice of reflective individual supervision in the present social work context which consequently thwarts the professional and personal development of supervisees. In light of the prior mentioned conclusions, it is recommended that supervision, as a specialist field in social service organisations, be specifically and substantially subsidized by the South African government; and that the practice of reflection in supervision be promoted through workshops as part of supervisors' Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Bestaande literatuur rakende supervisie maak tans nie voorsiening vir omvattende inligting in verband met individuele reflektiewe supervisiesessies in maatskaplike werk nie, sowel as vir die uitvoering daarvan. Oor die jare heen is daar al hoe minder aandag gegee aan reflektiewe supervisie op ‘n globale skaal. Hierdie is ‘n gevolg van neoliberalisme met die uitsluitlike fokus op doeltreffendheid en effektiwiteit van bestuur. Maatskaplike werkers regoor die wêreld het onder meer toenemende kommer uitgespreek oor die afname, beskikbaarheid en swak gehalte van supervisie. Gevolglik is daar talle protesaksies in verskillende dele van die wêreld geloods, wat onder meer aandring op beter werksomstandighede van maatskaplike werkers. Teen hierdie agtergrond is die navorsingstudie daarop gemik om ‘n beter begrip te verkry van intermediêre eerstelinie maatskaplike werkers se ervarings van individuele reflektiewe supervisiesessies in maatskaplike werk in Suid-Afrika. ‘n Kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering is benut ten einde gedetailleerde inligting vanaf intermediêre eerstelinie maatskaplike werkers te verkry in verband met hulle ervarings rakende individuele reflektiewe supervisiesessies. Beskrywende en verkennende navorsingsontwerpe is benut om die insameling van verskeie narratiewe vanaf die deelnemers te staaf. ‘n Sneeubal proefnemingsmetode is benut vir die doel van hierdie studie. Onderhoude is gevoer met twintig deelnemers en daar is gebruik gemaak van ‘n semi-gestruktureerde onderhoudskedule. Die data wat ingesamel is, is geanaliseer deur gebruik te maak van ‘n tematiese inhoudsanalise-benadering. Hierdie navorsingsverslag bevat twee literatuurhoofstukke. Die eerste literatuurhoofstuk poog om ‘n konseptuele raamwerk vir individuele supervisie van intermediêre eerstelinie maatskaplike werkers te formuleer. Die tweede literatuurhoofstuk beskryf verskeie reflektiewe hulpmiddels en tegnieke wat benut kan word in individuele reflektiewe supervisiesessies. Hoofstuk vier van hierdie navorsingstudie bevat die empiriese studie. Die resultate van data wat ingesamel is vanaf deelnemers en literatuur word op ‘n geïntegreerde wyse aangebied. Hoofstuk vyf bevat die gevolgtrekkings en aanbevelings voortspruitend uit die navorsingstudie. Die hoof gevolgtrekkings wat gemaak kan word vanuit die bevindinge, is dat professionele maatskaplike werkers werk onder ongunstige omstandighede, waar daar van hulle verwag word om deurlopend organisatoriese doelwitte te bereik en groot gevalleladings te bestuur. Maatskaplike werkers ontvang steeds minder gereelde en swak gehalte individuele supervisie. As ‘n alternatief het informele (“on the run”) supervisie, wat net beskikbaar is vir dringende sake wat die supervisor se aandag verg, meer algemeen geraak in maatskaplikewerk-organisasies. Daar is min tot geen toepassing van reflektiewe individuele supervisie in die huidige maatskaplikewerk-konteks nie. Gevolglik benadeel dit onder andere die professionele en persoonlike ontwikkeling van maatskaplike werkers. In die lig van hierdie gevolgtrekkings, word daar aanbeveel dat supervisie in maatskaplikewerk-organisasies as ʼn spesialisveld, spesifiek en substansieel, gesubsidieer word deur die Suid-Afrikaanse regering. Dit word ook voorgestel dat reflektiewe supervisie bevorder word deur werkswinkels as deel van supervisors se Voortgesette Professionele Ontwikkeling (“CPD”).

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