Social Work Supervisor Ethical Standards of Social Work Supervisors


By agreeing to be listed as a social work supervisor for your state of licensure you agree and attest to the following:

  1. You are licensed and/or certified as a social worker in the state in which you plan to do, or are currently doing, social work supervision
  2. You have met all requirements of your state of license social work board to be a social work supervisor
  3. You are in current good standing with your state of license social work board
  4. That you will inform immediately by email at this address, if you are no longer in good standing with your state licensure board, or if you cannot offer supervision
  5. That you will immediately notify any social work supervisees you may have that you are no longer in good standing with the social work board of your state and cannot provide social work supervision

Further, you agree to abide by the National Association of Social Worker Code of Ethics which can be found at this link:

Provided that your social work supervision is within the NASW code of ethics as well as your state of licensure board of social work regulations, you are within ethical guidelines. suggests that you include the following areas in your supervision.


1. The Supporter

A supervisor should offer support and explore with the supervisee how the act of doing social work effects and influences the supervisee.

  • Help the supervisee to explore the meaning of the experience of doing social work
  • Touch on emotional hurdles faced by a supervisee that relate to issues emanating from his/her immediate work

2. The Supervisor

A supervisor should tailor supervision to each supervisee focusing on these areas:

  • Helping to make the supervisee the best clinician he or she can be, drawing on the talents and abilities unique to that person
  • Assist the supervisee to be comfortable in who he/she is and to include those personal strengths and qualities in the social worker-client/consumer relationship

3. The Case Consultant

A supervisor should offer clear advice on what perspective to take while leaving reasonable options in most situations

  • The supervisor offers advice on practice options, clearly articulating the practice expertise of the supervisor and allowing experimentation within reason, provided there is no immediate client/consumer crisis
  • Offer advice on the situation of the client/consumer and what the client may need rather than solely the nature of the therapist’s work with the client/consumer

4. The Teacher

A supervisor will offer ideas and information on what has worked in his or her practice, what makes sense clinically, and will share recourses

  • The supervisor instructs the supervisee about, and how to implement, intervention techniques
  • The supervisor shares not only his or her own expertise, but also the collective knowledge of the field of practice in which he or she works

5. The Colleague

Supervisors will respect and treat supervisees as colleagues, assisting them to evolve professionally

  • Where appropriate will shares clinical ideas with the supervisee for an individual or family, and work together collaboratively to help the clients/consumers achieve their goals
  • Supervisee and supervisor become more peer-like in their interactions, taking turns sharing ideas and learning together

6. The Advocate

Occasionally clients/consumers or perhaps even the supervisee, will need advice on how to advocate for him or herself. In these cases the supervisor can offer advice and assistance in navigating the appropriate system

  • Encourages the supervisee to take action on behalf of the supervisee or the client/consumer
  • Assists in planning action to garner the resources necessary to ensure the wellbeing of either the supervisee or the client
  • Encouraging the supervisee him- or herself to become more active in helping clients to negotiate for resources and representation

This list is based on the work of Michael Ungar, Phd.  For more information about his work and ideas please follow this social work resource link.