Based on a national study of social workers in Ireland, the authors consider the issues that are currently shaping supervisory practice. The findings of our survey and interviews reveal that the concept of supervision has a contested meaning. In addition, the experiences of our research participants demonstrate that practices of supervision are varied and erratic. The research demonstrates that supervision policies and practices are largely determined by a number of variables including, organisational cultures, managers’ attitudes and social workers own commitment to engaging with the process. Many of the interviewees’ accounts of their experiences of supervision reflect the challenges and tensions that exist in seeking out a form of supervision that is appropriate and responsive to their professional needs. The chapter links the findings of research to the findings of public enquiry the reports into failures in supervision. More positive developments in supervision, related to reflective practice, are explored.
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