No matter our ideology, worldview, model, theory or roles in supervision, I believe we always start with our values; articulated, consciously or otherwise; in our work.  Naming and knowing the values which inform us has a flow on effect into our supervision practice and conversation.  A recent conversation I had in supervision with someone revealed how hard it can be to name and articulate these values and to be clear and succinct with them.  We all bring values informed by our cultural and ethnic background, spiritual or religious beliefs, and from our families of origin.  We are also influenced and informed by our lived experiences, our training and our professional or discipline values.  As a social work supervisor my practice is grounded in ANZASW ethics and practice standards and in SWRB competencies however deeper than that I have individual and core values that need bringing to the light, in order to be transparent and real in my work.

As colleagues who have been working in supervision and supervision training together for a number of years, The Project Team have honed and named some of principles which we recognise as implicit and explicit in the work we do.

These principles are:

  • Respectful and mana-enhancing
  • Transparency and Honesty
  • Sharing the space (knowledge, skills and expertise)
  • Ako – all learners together
  • Focus on strengths and capacities (uncovering and enhancing what works well)
  • Partnership, Participation and Protection (Bicultural practice)
  • Collaboration and conversation
  • Future and presence focussed
  • Holding hope and possibility
  • Acting justly
  • Noticing when we are ’being and doing’ it and growing this

How these principles are borne out in practice on any given day may vary or depend on who is in the room with me and what they need.  These principles are not static, not something that ‘I have’ or that I have ‘accomplished’ in life.  Instead I see them as ‘living, breathing’ aspirations to measure myself against each moment and to call myself to be accountable to; a turangawaewae if you like, a place to stand, to ensure I am on solid and safe ground in my practice.

Some days I know I live and breath these principles, in my own unique way, and feel success; others I know I could have been more successful at this aspiration.  These become my KPI or measure of how have I been in my day and in my supervision experiences.

So I wonder reader, in what way are your values or principles in supervision or in practice articulated and then aspired to?  Are you clear about your values/principles, named and unnamed, are they conscious or under the surface?  What values do you and those you work with in supervision adhere to?  How do these values work and align with each other in the supervision space? And if we start with a full picture of our own values, how do we engage with those whose values differ from ours?

As I write these reflective questions for you to answer, I am conscious that these are questions I have to answer too and that I continue to ask myself in my supervision practice.  Each first meeting of a new person to work with in supervision entails some time for ko wai au together, and in this conversation values are explicitly, overtly and subtly  shared and discussed.

And so I conclude (because it is important to conclude at the end of a blog right?) that we cannot be separate from our essence, our worldview and our values within the supervision room any differently that we can be in our social work practice.  Our role is not to influence those we work with to adhere to our values; (although it may be to encourage and support adherance to professional ethics, but that’s a topic for another day); but to assist them to be  conscious of the values and principles they bring to their work, while also holding consciousness of our own.

So intentional and conscious awareness of that which informs are practice is essential.

What a wonderful opportunity supervision provides for us to truly be ourselves in our working relationships!