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Spotlight Series: Successful Supervision

What can ensure a mutually productive and successful practicum for the student, field instructor and the agency? The next several issues of NEXUS will spotlight topics that will form and support field supervision and common components of students’ practicum experience.

One of the most frequent questions posed to the OFE&CP is regarding the importance of the weekly, one-hour, one-on-one supervision with practicum students. The NASW and ASWB Task Force on Supervision Standards maintain that supervision is an essential and integral part of the training and continuing education required for skillful development of professional social workers. Supervision protects clients, supports practitioners and ensures that professional standards and quality services are delivered by competent social workers. (Best Practice Standards in Social Work Supervision, p. 5) The Brown School offers multiple ways to complement individual supervision.

Group Supervision allows for organizations hosting more than one practicum student to supplement individual supervision. A Task Supervisor is a staff member who assumes specific responsibilities for the student’s practicum learning as delegated and monitored by the field instructor. This individual can provide consistent support for daily/weekly responsibilities. There is a difference between an affiliated field instructor and an organizational task supervisor. A task supervisor does not replace the field instructor nor can the task supervisor substitute for the field instructor in weekly supervision.* 

* On occasion, a field instructor may be unavailable to meet with the student for weekly supervision (e.g., vacation or at an out-of-town conference/meeting, etc.). In these instances a task supervisor may meet with the student to monitor their progress and/or concerns or issues. This substitution is acceptable for the short-term. Field instructors who will be absent for supervision over an extended period of time must notify the student’s field advisor to discuss a plan for continuing supervision.


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