• Elmien Truter North West University
  • Ansie Fouché North West University



The importance of child protection as well as the designated social workers (DSWs) assigned to them, and the jeopardy they face, is well recognised. Although there is a call to enhance DSW resilience, little is known about their resilience, and there are no guidelines to equip South African DSW supervisors to promote supervisee resilience. This article proposes resilience-enhancing guidelines for South African DSWs within reflective supervision. These suggested guidelines are based on empirical research findings pertaining to (a) a systematic meta-synthesis of DSW risk and resilience; (b) indicators of South African DSW resilience; and (c) the lived experiences of 15 resilient South African DSWs


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Elmien Truter, North West University

Social Work Division, Faculty of the Humanities North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus, Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng, South Africa.

Ansie Fouché, North West University

Social Work Division, Faculty of the Humanities North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus, Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng, South Africa.


ADAMSON, C. 2012. Supervision is not politically innocent. Australian Social Work, 65(2):185-196. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 12/03/2014].

ADUCCI, C.J. & BAPTIST, J.A. 2011. A collaborative-affirmative approach to supervisory practice. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 23(2):88-102. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 12/06/2013].

AMRANI-COHEN, I. 1998. Resilience among social workers: a cross cultural study of Americans and Israelis. Boston: Boston College. (PhD Dissertation)

BECKETT, C. 2007. Child protection. An introduction. London: Sage Publications.

BEDDOE, L. 2010. Surveillance or reflection: professional supervision in “the risk society”. British Journal of Social Work, 40(4):1279-1296. [Online] Available: http:// [Accessed: 01/02/2012].

BENJAMIN, J. March. 2007. Bursaries for SA’s social workers.: [Online] Available: [Accessed: 01/02/2012].

BOSMAN-SADIE, H. & CORRIE, L. 2010. A practical approach to the Children’s Act. South Africa: LexisNexis.

BOTHA, N.J. 2002. Supervision and consultation in social work. Bloemfontein: Drufoma.

BOUD, D., KEOGH, R. & WALKER, D. 1985. Promoting reflection in learning: A model. In: BOUD, D., KEOGH, R. & WALKER, D. (eds) Reflection: turning experience into learning. East Brunswick, N.J.: Nichols.

BRADBURY-JONES, C. 2013. Refocusing child protection supervision: an innovative approach to supporting practitioners. Child Care in Practice, 19(3):253-266. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 21/04/2013].

BREHM, J. & GATES, S. 1993. Donut shops and speed traps: evaluating models of supervision of police behaviour. American Journal of Political Science, 37(2):555-581. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 10/07/2013].

BYRNE, M. P. 2006. Strengths-based service planning as a resilience factor in child protective social workers. USA: Boston College Graduate School of Social Work (PhD Dissertation)

CARPENTER, J. & WEBB, C.M. 2011. What can be done to promote the retention of social workers? A systematic review of interventions. British Journal of Social Work, 42(7):1235-1255. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 16/03/2014].

CARSON, E., KING, S. & PAPATRAIANOU, L. 2011. Resilience among social workers: The role of informal learning in the workplace. Practice, 23(5):267-278. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02/09/2013].

CHILD WELFARE SOUTH AFRICA. 2009. Response to media reports on the performance of Child Welfare Vereeniging and the conduct of their social workers. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 01/02/2012].

COLLINS, S. 2007. Social workers, resilience, positive emotions and optimism. Practice, 19(4):255-269. [Online] Available: 1080/09503150701728186. [Accessed: 02/02/2012].

COLLINS, S. 2008. Statutory social workers: stress, job satisfaction, coping, social support and individual differences. British Journal of Social Work, 38(6):1173-1193. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02/02/2012].

CONRAD, D. & KELLAR-GUENTHER, Y. 2006. Compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction among Colorado child protection workers. Child Abuse and Neglect, 30(10):1071-1080. [Online] Available: article/pii/S01452134060 02286 [Accessed: 02/02/2012].

DOUGLAS, E.M. 2013. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress among child welfare workers who experience a maltreatment fatality on their caseload. Journal of Evidence-based Social Work, 10(4):373-387. [Online] Available: 10.1080/15433714.2012 .664058 [Accessed: 02/08/2013].

DRISCOLL, J. & TEH, B. 2001. The potential of reflective practice to develop individual orthopaedic nurse practitioners and their practice. Journal of Orthopaedic Nursing, 5(2):95-103. [Online] Available: science/ article/pii/S 136131110190 1505. [Accessed: 02/08/2013].

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT (DSD) & SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL SERVICE PROFESSIONS (SACSSP). 2012. Supervision framework for the social work profession. Department of Social Development.

DUNBAR-KRIGE, H. & FRITZ, E. 2006. The supervision of counsellors in South Africa. Travels in new territory. South Africa: Van Schaik Publishers.

EMDE, B.M. 2009. Facilitating reflective supervision in an early child development center. Infant Mental Health Journal, 30(6):664-672. [Online] Available: http:// [Accessed: 05/05/2013].

ENGELBRECHT, L. 2013. Social work supervision policies and frameworks: playing notes or making music? Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 49(4):456-468.

FOURIE, C.L. & THERON, L.C. 2012. Resilience in the face of Fragile X Syndrome. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10):1355-1368. [Online] Available: http://qhr. [Accessed: 16/10/2013].

FRANKLIN, L.D. 2011. Reflective supervision for the Green Social Worker: practical applications for supervisors. The Clinical Supervisor, 30(2):204-214. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 16/10/2013].

GIBBS, J.A. 2001. Maintaining front-line workers in child protection: A case for refocusing supervision. Child Abuse Review, 10(5):323-335. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02/03/2011].

GODDARD, C. & HUNT, S. 2011. The complexities of caring for child protection workers: the contexts of practice and supervision. Journal of Social Work Practice: Psychotherapeutic Approaches in Health, Welfare and the Community, 25(4):413-432. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02/01/2011].

GRANT, L. & KINMAN, G. 2012. Enhancing wellbeing in social work students: building resilience in the next generation. Social Work Education, 31(5):605-621. [Online] Available: 590931 [Accessed: 05/02/2013].

GREEN, M.S. & DEKKERS, T.D. 2010. Attending to power and diversity in supervision: an exploration of supervisee learning outcomes and satisfaction with supervision. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 22(4):293-312. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 06/04/2013].

GREEN, R., GREGORY, R. & MASON, R. 2003. It’s no picnic: personal and family safety for rural social workers. Australian Social Work, 56(2):94-106. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 10/04/2011].

GU, Q. & DAY, C. 2007. Teachers’ resilience: A necessary condition for effectiveness. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(8):1302-1316. [Online] Available: http://www. [Accessed: 10/04/2011].

HURLEY, D.J., MARTIN, L. & HALLBERG, R. 2013. Resilience in child welfare: a social work perspective. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 4(2):259-273. [Online] Available: 12211 [Accessed: 04/03/2012].

INGRAM, R. 2013. Emotions, social work practice and supervision: An uneasy alliance? Journal of Social Work Practice, 27(1):5-19. [Online] Available:

[Accessed: 05/04/2013].

JOHNS, C. 1995. Framing learning through reflection within Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing in nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 22(2):226-234. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 17/06/2013].

JONES, C. 2001. Voices from the front line: State social workers and new labour. British Journal of Social Work, 31(4):547-562. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 05/04/2011].

KADUSHIN, A. & HARKNESS, D. 2002. Supervision in social work (4th ed). New York: Columbia University Press.

KEARNS, S. & McARDLE, K. 2012. “Doing it right?” – accessing the narratives of identity of newly qualified social workers through the lens of resilience: I am, I have, I can. Child and Family Social Work, 17(4):385-394. [Online] Available:

[Accessed: 13/07/2013].

KILMINSTER, S.M. & JOLLY, B.C. 2000. Effective supervision in clinical practice settings: A literature review. Medical Education, 34(10):827-840. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 07/09/2012].

KIM, H., JI, J. & KAO, D. 2011. Burnout and physical health among social workers: a three-year longitudinal study. Social Work, 56(3):258-268. [Online]: Available: [Accessed: 14/03/2012].

KINMAN, G. & GRANT, L. 2011. Exploring stress resilience in trainee social workers: The role of emotional and social competencies. British Journal of Social Work, 41(2):1-15. [Online]: Available: [Accessed: 14/03/2012].

KOEN, D. 2010. Resilience in professional nurses. Vanderbijlpark, South Africa: North-West University. (PhD dissertation)

LAW, P. 2011. Inquiry likely into fears child could die due to social workers’ “unmanageable” workloads. [Online] Available: news/ wales-news/2011/11/05/inquiry-likely-into-fears-child-could-die-due-to-social-workers-unmanageable-workloads-91466-29721689/#ixzz1cvTA4qv8 [Accessed: 01/02/2011].

LAWLOR, D. 2013. A transformation programme for children’s social care managers using an interactional and reflective supervision model to develop supervision skills. Journal of Social Work Practice, 27(2):177-189. [Online] Available: http://dx. [Accessed: 08/07/2014].

LITTLECHILD, B. 2003. Working with aggressive and violent parents in child protection social work. Practice: Social Work in Action, 15(1):33-44. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 07/03/2011].

LONNE, B. 2008. Child protection social work in Australia faces a crisis. International Federation of Social Work. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 01/02/2011].

MAPOSA, S. 2006. Social worker shortage puts children at risk. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 24/05/2011].

MASTEN, A.S. 2011. Resilience in children threatened by extreme adversity: Frameworks for research, practice and translational synergy. Development and Psychopathology, 23(2):493-506. [Online] Available: http://journals.cambridge. org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8255627 [Accessed: 02/03/2012].

MASTEN, A.S., CUTULI, J.J., HERBERS, J.E. & REED, M.J. 2009. Resilience in development. In: LOPEZ, S.J. & SNYDER, C.R. (eds) Oxford handbook of positive psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 117-131.

MASTEN, A.S. & WRIGHT, M.O. 2010. Resilience over the lifespan. In: REICH, J.W., ZAUTRA, A.J. & HALL, J.S. (eds) Handbook of adult resilience. New York: The Guilford Press.

MORRIS, L. 2005. The process of decision-making by stressed social workers: to stay or leave the workplace. International Review of Psychiatry, 17(5):347-354. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02/02/2011].

MUSKAT, B. 2013. The use of IASWG standards for social work practice with groups in supervision of group work practitioners. Social Work with Groups, 36(2-3):208-221. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02/05/2013].

NARAIN, J. 2011. Baby whose mother strapped him in front of fire for three days dies after social services missed 17 chances to save him. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 01/02/ 2012].

NEW DICTIONARY OF SOCIAL WORK. 1995. Cape Town: CTP Book Printers.

ONG, A.D., BERGEMAN, C.S., BISCONTI, T.L. & WALLACE, K.A. 2006. Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(4):730-749. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 01/02/ 2012].

PARIS, A. 2012. Building resilience through reflection – Developing social workers and practice educators. Paper presented at a workshop at the University of Birmingham 6 July 2012. [Online] Available: Building-Resilience-and-Reflection-for-Developing-Staff [Accessed: 17/06/2013].

PARGAMENT, K. I. & CUMMINGS, J. 2010. Anchored by faith: Religion as a resilience factor. In: REICH, J.W., ZAUTRA, A.J. & HALL, J.S. (eds) Handbook of adult resilience. New York: Guilford Press.

RUSS, E., LONNE, B. & DARLINGTON, Y. 2009. Using resilience to reconceptualise child protection workforce capacity. Australian Social Work, 62(3):324-338. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 04/06/2012].

RUSSEL BERNARD, H. & RYAN, G.W. 2010. Analyzing qualitative data. Systematic approaches. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

SAYERS, J. 1991. Talking about child protection: stress and supervision. Practice, 5(2): 121-137. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 04/06/2012].

SCHURINK, W., FOUCHÉ, C.B. & DE VOS, A.S. 2011. Qualitative data analysis and interpretation. In: DE VOS, A.S., STRYDOM, H., FOUCHÉ, C.B. & DELPORT, C.S.L. (eds) Research at grass roots: for the social sciences and human service professions (4th ed). Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.

STANLEY, N., MANTHORPE, J. & WHITE, M. 2006. Depression in the profession: social workers’ experiences and perception. British Journal of Social Work, 37(2):281-298. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02/02/2011].

STOREY, J. & BILLINGHAM, J. 2001. Occupational stress and social work. Social Work Education, 20(6):659-670. [Online] Available: 02615470120089843a. [Accessed: 05/05/2011].

SUMSION, J. 2004. Early childhood teachers’ constructions of their resilience and thriving: A continuing investigation. International Journal of Early Years Education, 12(3):275-290. [Online] Available: 66976042000268735#.VSeEHiAaLIU. [Accessed: 02/06/2011].

THAM, P. 2006. Why are they leaving? Factors affecting intention to leave among social workers in child welfare. British Journal of Social Work, 37(7):1225-1246. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02/06/2011].

TRUTER, E. 2014. South African social workers at risk: exploring pathways to their resilience. Vanderbijlpark: North West University. (Thesis – PhD). [Online] Available:

TRUTER, E., THERON, L.C. & FOUCHÉ, A. 2014. Indicators of resilience in resilient South-African designated social workers: professional perspectives. Social Work Practitioner-Researcher, 26(3):305-329.

TUGADE, M.M. 2011. Positive emotions and coping: examining dual process models of resilience. In: FOLKMAN, S. (eds) The Oxford handbook of stress, health and coping. New York: Oxford University Press.

UNGAR, M. 2006. Resilience across cultures. British Journal of Social Work, 38(2):218-235. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 02/06/2011].

UNGAR, M. 2011. The social ecology of resilience: addressing contextual and cultural ambiguity of a nascent construct. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(1):1-17. [Online] Available: x/full [Accessed: 20/07/2012].

UNGAR, M. 2012. The social ecology of resilience. A handbook of theory and practice. New York: Springer.

UNGAR, M. 2013. Resilience, trauma, context and culture. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 14(3):255-266. [Online] Available: full.pdf+html [Accessed: 05/10/2013].

WALKER-WILLIAMS, H.J. & FOUCHÉ, A. 2015. A strengths-based group intervention for women who experienced child sexual abuse. Research on Social Work Practice. In Press.

WARD, C.C. & HOUSE, R.M. 1998. Counseling supervision: a reflective model. Counselor Education and Supervision, 38(1):23-33. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 08/05/2013].

WEIGAND, R.F. 2007. Reflective supervision in child care. The discoveries of an accidental tourist. Zero to Three, 17-22. [Online] Available: http://www.christina [Accessed: 08/05/2013].

WEISS, E.M. & WEISS, S. 2001. Doing reflective supervision with student teachers in a professional development school culture. Reflective Practice, 2(2):125-154. [Online] Available:

[Accessed: 08/05/2013].

WOOD, L., NTAOTE, G.M. & THERON, L. 2012. Supporting Lesotho teachers to develop resilience in the face of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28(3):428-439. [Online] Available: 2011.11.009 [Accessed: 15/01/203].

YÜRÜR, S. & SARIKAYA, M. 2012. The effects of workload, role ambiguity, and social support on burnout among social workers in Turkey. Administration in Social Work, 36(5):457-478. [Online] Available: 03643107.2011.613365 [Accessed: 02/02/2013].




How to Cite