Does access to professional supervision assist mental health social workers

New Search

Purpose This research is being conducted as part of an MSc in Professional Leadership and Management at Leicester University which I have been supported to undertake as part of the Future Executive Development Programme. The aim of the research is to review the current arrangements for professional supervision for mental health social workers and assess the impact of this on how these staff are able to articulate their role within a multi-disciplinary team in order to ensure that the social care needs of service users are assessed and met in an appropriate manner.
Subject Other topic
Commissioned by This research has been discussed with the Network Lead for Social Care who is in agreement with the project and believes that it will provide valuable data professional supervision within adult mental health services.
Geographic area All of Lancashire
Method In-depth interview
Questionnaire - postal
Consultation with Staff
Date 01/04/2010 - 30/06/2010
Undertaken by Chris Southworth Professional Lead for Social Care


Number in sample 118
Key findings This project aims to capture the perceptions of mental health social workers in an integrated mental health service regarding their experience of professional supervision and to assess whether such supervision has a positive impact on their ability to articulate their role and identity within their teams. This is particularly relevant for mental health social workers who are often located within teams where they are the only social worker. An additional factor in the area in which the study took place is that mental health social workers are frequently based in teams where the line manager is from a health background and may be perceived by social workers not to have an understanding of or interest in social care issues.

A secondary aim of the project is to assess whether access to professional supervision supported social workers to ensure that the social care needs of individual service users were identified and met in an appropriate manner.
Data was gathered from questionnaires and a focus group from a convenience sample of 25 mental health social workers based in adult community mental health teams. Social workers expressed varying levels of satisfaction with the supervision received from their line manager regardless of their professional background and although they valued additional professional supervision as an opportunity to focus on their specific personal and professional development needs, the hypothesis that this supervision would have a beneficial effect on their ability to articulate their role and identity was not proven.

However social workers did seem to derive some benefit from professional supervision in attempting to ensure that the social care needs of individuals were met both within their own practice and within the wider multi-disciplinary team context.

Project document(s)


Contact information

For more information about this research contact:

Chris Southworth
Professional Lead for Social Care
Room 121
East Cliff County Offices

Tel 01772 534322