• Lambert Engelbrecht Department of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa



The recruitment and retention strategy of the Department of Social Development (2006:23)postulates that there is a “lack of structured supervision and poor quality supervisors, whothemselves also lack capacity to conduct professional supervision” in South Africa. Pieterse(1961), one of the first authors on supervision in South Africa, made similar claims close tofive decades ago. These two comments give rise to the question: has social work in SouthAfrica been practising supervision over the past five decades beyond historical bureaucraticdiscourses, and has it engaged with changing global, local and personal contexts to develop andsustain critically responsive practices? In other words: is social work supervision in SouthAfrica keeping up with the times? By addressing this question, this paper seeks to respond tothe call of the recruitment and retention strategy document (Department of SocialDevelopment, 2006) to evaluate current supervision practices. In this attempt the paper reportson research, drawing on an historical analysis of the international and local development ofsocial work supervision and on a case study of current supervision practices in an NGOenvironment, in order to recommend a context-specific conceptual framework for futuresupervision practices. This paper thus aims to examine the interplay between the historicaldevelopment, current practices and future challenges of social work supervision


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