Izod, K. and Lawson, C. (2016) ‘Reflections from Practice: Supervision, Knowledge and the Elusive Quality of Credibility’. In: Practice: Social Work in Action, special edition on supervision. 27 (4), pp. 227–289.
This paper offers a reflection on the practice concerns brought into supervision and case discussion by local authority social workers and social work managers in the early twenty-first century in England. An emergent theme is ‘credibility’, which presents itself in questions such as: How trustworthy is my thinking, how does it stand up to scrutiny, and how can I justify the actions that I take or don’t take? We suggest that to be credible is to manage and account for both the creativity and the constraint of working with uncertainty and that these tensions produce system-wide dynamics which can be surfaced and worked through in supervision. Bringing experience and examples from our supervisory practices, we consider the nature of uncertainty to explore how knowledge is generated in relation to social work with children and families where neglect is prevalent. In the light of diminishing availability of resources, we explore the challenge of bringing a robust and creative approach to this work. We suggest that social work supervision requires surfacing and exploring anxieties for both supervisor and supervisee in the context of what meanings they have for the work under discussion. This then has the potential to generate resources for an imaginative and constructive practice.
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