Alberta College of Social Workers


The following questions may be helpful to ask during a practice supervision session: 

  1. What do you have for today's session?
  2. Which aspect(s) are you most interested in focusing on?
  3. What do I need to be aware of in order to help you?
  4. What are you most pleased about regarding the way you worked?
  5. What weren't you pleased about (what concerned you)?
  6. What would you like to do (to have done) differently? 
  7. What do you think got in the way of you being able to do that?
  8. I noticed that... (positive or problematic behavior).
  9. What was helpful or not helpful to you/your clients? Why? How? In what ways?
  10. What do you want to do about...?
  11. How might you apply (in practical/behavioral ways) what we have discussed today? What do you need to do more/less of?
  12. What might you take from today's session (personal reflections/cognitions/new insights)?
  13. How will you go about implementing 'X'?

When establishing a supervisor-supervisee relationship for the purposes of providing or receiving practice supervision, it is important to be clear on the distinctions between the supervision requirements related to the work of a Registered Social Worker, a Clinical Social Worker and an advanced level Registered Social Worker with a current practice permit operating in Private Practice.
  • Registered Social Worker?
  • Clinical Social Worker?
  • Private Practice?

The practice supervision contract helps prepare you for the supervisory experience. The contract is created collaboratively by the supervisor and supervisee and is designed to orient the supervisee to supervision as well as to serve as a roadmap for the entire experience. Practice Supervision contracts can highlight and clarify mutual goals and minimize differing agendas. Osborn and Davis (1996) recommend that supervision contracts include the following: 

  • Role expectations for both supervisor and supervisee
  • Mutually agreeable goals and time frames
  • An established method for resolving communication and other problems in the supervision sessions so that they can be addressed
  • Details of when and how progress will be monitored and evaluated
  • Established parameters to the supervisory relationship, with attention to boundaries and self-monitoring
{Practice Supervision Contract}

The supervisee has a right to expect that a supervisor:

  • Is a master teacher;
  • Is able to guide learning by virtue of superior knowledge and skill;
  • Is able to transmit knowledge that integrates theory and practice activity;
  • Has in-depth knowledge that can be applied to practice with precision;
  • Is able to apply research knowledge and methodology into practice; 
  • Is confident in his or her knowledge, but open to questioning;
  • Is able to accept criticism without becoming defensive;
  • Is fair, honest, candid, but supportive and patient;
  • Can provide cases that are appropriate, but challenging;
  • Is appropriate in appearance, courteous, and clear in communication;
  • Is thorough in providing orientation to the agency or setting;
  • Is prepared for conferences and avoids wasting precious supervision time;
  • Is involved in the agency, the community, and the profession;
  • Is knowledgeable about the agency, the community, and the profession;
  • Is knowledgeable about the Code of Ethics and faithfully adheres to its tenets.

It is expected that supervisees will:

  • Take that extra step in dealing with difficult cases;
  • Take responsibility for the job and any organizational matters;
  • Manifest a willingness to work hard;
  • Freely talk about problem cases and situations;
  • Be honest about how they are feeling;
  • Show respect for their supervisor;
  • Demonstrate basic interpersonal skills;
  • Have a genuine interest in learning;
  • Be motivated to learn;
  • Be able to set goals with assistance;
  • Be willing to discuss work and their thoughts about work;
  • Present themselves as professionals;
  • Be self-aware;
  • Have integrity;
  • Have a sense of respect for others;

When entering a supervisor-supervisee relationship in the context of practice supervision, it is important that both parties are clear on what each person's role is and what it is not. Hawkins and Shohet identified 10 primary focus' of supervision. In practice supervision under the ACSW's Supervision and Mentorship resource, the focus is on 1 through 6. Focus 7 to 10 are the responsibility of the supervisee's direct administrative supervisor. 

  1. To provide a regular space for the supervisees to reflect upon the content and process of their work. 
  2. To develop understanding and skills within the work.
  3. To receive information and another perspective concerning one's work.
  4. To receive both content and process feedback.
  5. To be validated and supported both as a person and as a worker.
  6. To ensure that as a person and as a worker on is not left to carry unnecessarily difficulties, problems, and projections alone.
  7. To have space to explore and express personal distress, re-stimulation, transference or counter transference that may be brought up by the work. 
  8. To plan and utilize their personal professional resources better. 
  9. To be pro-active rather than re-active.
  10. To ensure the quality of work.

Characteristics of healthy supervisory relationships include:

  • Bidirectional trust, respect, and facilitation;
  • A commitment to enthusiasm and energy for the relationship;
  • An adequate amount of time committed to supervision;
  • Sensitivity to the supervisee's developmental needs;
  • Encouragement of autonomy;
  • Sense of humor;
  • Comfort in disclosing and discussing perceived errors;
  • Clarity of expectations, and regular feedback;
  • A non-defensive supervisory style; and
  • A clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities of both the supervisee and supervisor.

Competencies for healthy and effective supervision include:

  • Capacity to enhance supervisees self-confidence through support, appropriate autonomy, and encouragement;
  • Capacity to model strong working alliances and develop strong supervisory alliances with the supervisee;
  • Ability to dispense feedback, give constructive criticism, and provide formative and summative evaluation;
  • Knowledge of multiple formats of supervision and skill in each format;
  • Adaptability and flexibility;
  • Excellent communication of case conceptualization, with a strong theoretical stance;
  • Ability to maintain equilibrium and as appropriate, a sense of humor, even in the face of crisis;
  • Ability to identify and bring up potential conflict situations or areas of discomfort with supervisee; and
  • Openness to self-evaluation and to evaluation by supervisees and peers. 

Every clinical social work supervisee has the right to:

  • A supervisor who supervises consistently and at regular intervals;
  • Growth-oriented supervision that respects personal privacy;
  • Supervision that is technically sound and theoretically grounded;
  • Be evaluated on criteria that are made clear in advance, and evaluations that are based on actual observation of performance; and
  • A supervisor who is adequately skilled in clinical practice and trained in supervision practice.