Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Marshall Fine

Advisor Role

Dissertation Supervisor


The dominant contemporary post-degree supervision literature reflects a long held belief that social workers employed in various practice settings need a combination of further education, support, and administrative guidance from someone more expert than themselves. In spite of these claims, a noticeable gap in knowledge is learning what, if anything, social workers need from supervision to help them provide effective services.

My particular interest is post-degree supervision within the social work landscape of Canada. I chose to focus this research project on the supervision needs of social workers in Ontario, the province where I have spent many years working as a practitioner and supervisor. My mixed model research project was designed to discern, analyse, and interpret what social work research participants identify as the post-degree supervision needs of Ontario social workers. There were four sources of information that helped to focus my research questions and design: (1) evidence from research which demonstrates post-degree supervision can benefit social workers and their clients; (2) evidence from research that the domination of administrative needs of organizations are crippling the potential effectiveness of post-degree supervision; (3) information from accumulating literature that offers conceptualizations of social work knowledge and practices that appear to encourage social justice and social change; and (4) the significant reduction of available post-degree social work supervision throughout Canada. For my research, 636 social workers throughout Ontario submitted their responses to my original web-survey. The focus of the quantitative and qualitative questions inquired about social worker’s needs concerning the purpose and process of supervision, as well as the place in supervision for the social work mission of social justice and social change.

The results of this investigation clearly indicate that supervision is a needed and valued relationship for social workers, but current or recent quantity is slim and quality is thin. Participants identified a considerable number of supervision needs; needs that reiterate many previously raised concerns about social work supervision in Canada. For example, respondents need supervision to intentionally promote professional development and the social work mission of social justice and change. From these needs, I created a portrait of preferred supervision according to the participants. This integration of the quantitative data along with the thick qualitative descriptions informed my subsequent reflections, as well as my proposed implications for Ontario supervision practices and future research.

Transferability of the results suggest that information from this research could be used by (a) Ontario social workers to promote effective practice in the workplace, and (b) social work organizations and university social work programs to develop supervision knowledge and practice. Importantly, the successful emergence and establishment of effective, available post-degree supervision cannot rely on these findings alone. Social work practitioners and academics are strongly encouraged to actively advocate for, and creatively engage in, the development of education, training, and research opportunities concerning post-degree social work supervision.

Convocation Year


Included in

Social Work Commons