There is a ‘surprising paucity’ of research and theorising about the ingredients necessary for effective supervision, coupled with widespread criticism from practitioners about the quality and reliability of supervision sessions, and confusion expressed by supervisors and line-managers as to what supervision should comprise (Clare, 1988). If social workers are to survive and be effective they require adequate preparatory training and good ongoing supervision. Without it their exposure to anxiety, anger and the dependency feelings of clients, to emotional and physical overload, is likely to erode their intellectual and emotional resources, their morale and their confidence (Clare, 1988). They are less likely to be able to retain hold of their skills and strengths, or to develop their practice competence. They are more likely to experience difficulties in keeping to their tasks and roles and retaining direction, and may succumb to collusive participation with service users: that is, to form a closed system as a result of the emotional pressures and dynamics contained within the work (Temperley and Himmel, 1986). Without supervision practitioners will experience difficulty retaining a meta position to monitor their interventions and their effectiveness, to check whether they are seeing what they want to see and not seeing what they want to miss, to analyse the process, to appraise their decisions critically, and to challenge their own blind spots.
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