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IASW National Social Work Conference & AGM

  • Hogan Suite, Croke Park
  • 8.30 Registration, 9.30 Conference, 4.30 AGM
  • 17 Jun 2016

Price €20 members/€40 non-members

Promoting Best Practice in Social Work Supervision


Price includes lunch and refreshments

Conference programme available to download from the right side of this page.

Directions to free parking at the Hogan Suite can also be downloaded from this page. 


The conference will be chaired by Nicola Byrne, Program Manager with Strategic Portfolio and Programme Management Office (SPPMO) in the National Mental Health Division 


Conference Programme

8.30 – 9.30         Registration, tea & coffee

9.30 – 9.40         Welcoming address Dónal O'Malley, Chairperson IASW

9.40 – 10.30       Social Work Supervision for Changing Contexts: Themes from Practice and Research (Liz Beddoe)

10.30 – 11.20     Relationships, Supervision and Social Support as Fundamental Building Blocks for Resilience in Supervision (Paula McFadden)

11.20 – 11.50     Tea/Coffee Break & View Poster Presentations

11.50 – 12.40    Making links between Reflection and Social Work Practice (Carmel Halton)

12.40 – 1.00       Q&A

1.00 – 2.00         Lunch

2.00 – 3.15         Parallel Sessions


  • Practitioner Research Symposium (Chaired by Sarah Donnelly)
  • `Going live’: Supervisor and peer observation in ‘real time’ for practitioner development (Liz Beddoe)
  • Safer Decision Making - Implementing Reflective Practice as an Integral Component of Social Work Supervision (Aisling Coffey)
  • Making links between Reflective Inquiry and CPD (Carmel Halton)
  • Recognizing early indicators of burnout and using supervision to build resilience in front like social workers (Paula McFadden)


3.20 – 3.30         Launch of IASW Working Document Promoting Quality Professional Supervision: IASW Standards for Social Workers

3.30 – 4.00       Q&A, Discussion and Close of Conference

4.30 - 5.30 AGM - All IASW members welcome!


Promoting Best Practice in Social Work Supervision

Good social work supervision underpinned by reflective practice is key to high quality service provision and in particular, to ensuring that that social workers have the skills to understand and analyse complexity, engage in critical thinking and provide safe and effective intervention. High quality professional supervision is essential to the development of reflective practitioners and to the development of practitioners ready and able to meet the many complex challenges of social work. Providing staff with the knowledge and skills to engage in high quality professional supervision supports social workers to develop professional confidence and identity and to provide safe and effective services.

A number of national and international standards and policy documents on social work supervision also view supervision as a key mechanism through which workers develop the skills and capacity for reflective practice. Yet despite the acknowledged importance of, and centrality of reflective practice to social work there is documented evidence internationally that social workers are not getting the opportunity to reflect on their practice and that supervision can be overly managerial and prescriptive, driven by statutory requirements and risk management.

"Meta analysis research supports the role of supervision in promoting positive outcomes such as job satisfaction, role clarity and organisational commitment, and in reducing adverse outcomes such as stress, burnout and intention to leave." (Mor Barak et al, 2009)

The Irish Association of Social Workers strives to improve the standards and quality of professional social work practice and views the promotion of best practice in professional social work supervision as a means to achieving this aim. As such, the IASW National Social Work Conference 2016 focuses on Promoting Best Practice in Social Work Supervision, further developing the 2015 conference theme Building Professional Resilience. Topics to be explored at this year’s conference include

  • best practice in supervision
  • supervision and changing contexts
  • use of supervision to build resilient practitioners and to increase staff retention
  • protected time dedicated to professional supervision as an effective investment of an organisation’s resources
  • developing reflective practice in supervision
  • use of peer groups in supporting reflective practice



Social work supervision for changing contexts: Themes from practice and research (Liz Beddoe)

Abstract   Internationally many social work professional bodies require practitioners to participate in regular clinical supervision. Supervision is believed to support continuing development of professional skills, the safeguarding of competent and ethical practice and encompass oversight of the wellbeing of the practitioner. This address will explore what supervision might be needed over the stages of a social worker’s career and considers whether diversity in the modes of delivery of supervision, including supervision between members of different professions, might benefit social work.  

Biography   Liz practised as a health social worker for 12 years, specializing in women’s health. She has taught since 1994 and established the new School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work in 2008. Liz was a founding member of the Social Workers Registration Board, chaired the Board’s Education and Practice Standards Committee, is a past vice-president of the ANZASW and was awarded Association life membership in 1990.

Liz is on editorial advisory boards for Australian Social Work , International Social Work and the Asian Social Work and Policy Review and is a reviewer for a number of professional journals. Liz is co-editor with Sue Gair of James Cook University of the journal Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education and edited a special themed issue on critical reflection. Liz has guest-edited journal special issues on social work education (2006) and health social work (2010) for Social Work Review; health and wellbeing for Social Work Education (2011) and on supervision in social work for Australian Social Work (2012). Liz has published articles on social work education, supervision and professional issues in journals in New Zealand and overseas.

Liz is a founding member of the Re-Imagining Social Work Collective , a collective of social workers, social work academics, researchers and others who share a passion for, and a commitment to the development of modern, progressive, inclusive, democratic, and culturally responsive social work services in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Relationships, Supervision and Social Support as Fundamental Building Blocks for Resilience in Supervision (Paula McFadden)

Abstract   Supervision frequency and quality has been reported as of critical importance for social workers ability to manage difficult and stressful cases.  This is confirmed in a UK wide study on burnout across all areas of social work practice and with child protection ‘leavers and stayers’ interviewed as part of a Northern Ireland study.  Furthermore, a systematic review confirmed that supervision and social support are related to workers higher levels of job satisfaction and feelings of efficacy and job satisfaction.  The current presentation will highlight the key messages relating to all of these findings and make a case for refocusing on relationships at work as a mechanism for enhancing supervision and social support to promote worker resilience.

Biography   Dr. McFadden is a social worker who has worked in child protection and with older people. Her doctoral research interest in burnout and resilience in child protection social work practice in Northern Ireland.  Dr. McFadden currently is a lecturer in social work at Queens University Belfast and delivers training across Health and Social Care Trusts in relation to burnout awareness and resilience building at three levels.  These include front line staff, front line managers and senior managers and leaders.  Resilience theory is applied to interventions to provide a framework to develop structures and ideas for ensuring staff well-being is core to organizational culture development in large complex, Health and Social Care Organizations.


What is Reflection:  Making links between Reflection and Social Work Practice 

Dr Carmel Halton has been a social work academic and educator for over 30 years. She  occupies the roles of   Director of Social Work Practice, Director of the MA/Postgraduate Diploma in Practice Teaching and Supervision  and Director of the Master of Social Work Programme at University College Cork. She is the elected educational representative  on the Social Work Registration Board (CORU). Previously, Carmel  worked for many years as a social work practitioner and probation officer. Her research and publication interests include: probation, social work education, CPD, social work research  and practice, supervision for professional practice and  the use of peer support in practice and research.  She is committed to promoting and researching  outcomes of reflective inquiry in professional and post-qualifying social work education. Recently she co- authored a book ‘Continuing Professional Development in Social Work’ which was published in Autumn 2014 by Policy Press. A complete list of her publications are available on her UCC  IRIS webpage. 

Carmel Halton will also run a workshop in the afternoon which will focus on Making Links between Reflective Inquiry and CPD

The IASW would like to acknowledge the generous funding support of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to support the conference



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