Real World Clinical Blog: On Social Work Supervision

Let’s talk about what makes supervision good and what makes supervision bad.

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supervision in counselling

Supervision in counselling is a process whereby a counsellor meets with a supervisor to discuss and reflect on their counselling practice. The aim of supervision is to help the counsellor develop their skills and confidence in working with clients, as well as to ensure that they are adhering to ethical and professional standards. Supervision can take place on an individual or group basis, and there are various different approaches that can be used. However, all supervision should provide the counsellor with an opportunity to reflect on their practice, receive feedback, and learn from their mistakes. In this way, supervision plays an essential role in ensuring that counselling is delivered in a safe and effective manner. Read another amazing blog:

torres 194 days ago

Clinical supervision

As a supervisor for 6 years one of my best practices is the open door concept. My office door is always open. I have learned that if my door is open supervisees are more apt to approach when they need a quick brainstorming or question answered. I have found that I have prevented a lot of fires from using this approach because workers don't make difficult decisions without further support. Also I have used an approach with providers who come to me and want me to solve a client problem for them. I will tell them, come to me with 3 solutions to your concern and we can then discuss them. This prevents the supervisor from doing the clinical work, and forces the provider to use their own clinical skills to practice. I believe one of my strengths is that I am calm, consistent and and this has allowed me to build trust with my supervisees. I have regularly scheduled supervision on a monthly basis even if it's just to touch base. This prevents supervision to only be provided during critical crisis situations. I was told by a previous supervisee, thank you for helping me to see the forest when I could only see the trees.

Alice Munsch more than 1 year ago

Graduate Student: Learning Supervison

I truly enjoyed the perspectives offered in this article on supervision. A current graduate student myself, I am in the role of a supervisee and have found that I am at times terrified of being incompetent. My field instructor this past year has made me feel comfortable to make non-life threatening mistakes which will allow me to grow. I see social work as being such an impactful field that I am always nervous of giving incorrect “advice” or feedback to my clients. It becomes even more scary when those clients are young children; children are so impressionable.

As I read, I especially resonated with the question “which clients are you brushing your teeth with?” One child immediately came to mind. During my field interactions with her, I saw her as both a bully and manipulator. As I sat down for supervision, I realized that this child displayed attitudes that I loathe as a young girl and even now as an adult. Bullies were never tolerated by me and I always defend those students or adults whom I felt were being bullied. We all have biases and dislikes that as clinicians may carry over into our work and attitudes with clients. It is a great idea to do continual self evaluation with self, supervisors, and peers.

Another aspect that came to mind with that question is developing a personable relationship with clients, with established boundaries, that allows me to know and empathize with them as a person. As a Soldier in the United States Army, I always got to know those placed under my charge on a personal level and found that this heightened the performance in my sections. People felt cared about and knew that I was invested in the United States Army’s mission, them as a person, and their families. These were the areas that comprised their everyday lives, thus it must be counted as important to me. This is true with clients.

Mavlyn Bazil more than 2 years ago

A Fine Balance

Providing a well rounded supervisory experience is an art- weighing the clinical and personal needs of each intern can be a challenge and an hour can fly by. I have found creating an agenda with my interns at the beginning of each session, as I always want to ensure a rich experience. Any high risk clients, as well as a case consult layout and homework between sessions helps myself and my ASWs get a solid skill base that they can depend on throughout their careers when they finally become LCSWS!

karen kerschmann more than 4 years ago


One of the things I share with my students is to remember the common humanity ...the clients ...the students ...and mine. We are not experts or fonts of all knowledge ...and we will mess up. It's ok to mess up ...the skill lies in recovering the mess.

Margaret more than 7 years ago

About Real World CSW

Dr. Danna Bodenheimer is the author of Real World Clinical Social Work: Find Your Voice and Find Your Way and On Clinical Social Work: Meditations and Truths From the Field. She shares practice wisdom with new clinicians.