The secret in supervision: An integral part of the social worker's professional development

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Abstract

The implications of social workers keeping secrets and hiding information from their supervisors in the course of the supervision process are discussed. Based on Winnicot s (1965) approach, the secret is discussed as a way to create space for growth and independence. A comparison is made between the relationship in supervision and the process of the supervisee's professional development and parent-child relationships. Cases are presented in which a secret was hidden in the course of supervision, and these demonstrate the interplay among three elements: the quality of the content of the secret; the professional maturity of the supervisee; and the professional maturity of the supervisor. The events described demonstrate the role of the secret in the professional growth of social workers, as well as the supervisor's need to exercise judgment about whether and when to "open up" the secret.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-537
Number of pages9
JournalFamilies in Society
Volume81
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

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