The Catholic University of America
The Relationships among Supervisory Alliance, Style, and Supervisory Tools, and Client Goal Attainment in Social Work Field Supervision

Dr. Dorothy Daly Van Dam


The relationship between client goal attainment and social work field supervision has been a neglected area of empirical study in social work.  Multiple studies have found the supervisory relationship to be a predictor of student satisfaction (Bogo, 1993; Fortune & Abramson, 1993).  However, there are gaps in knowledge and lack of empirical evidence on the impact of this relationship on client outcomes and about how and to what extent field supervision affects client outcomes.  This study attempts to close the gap.  In light of the growing importance and attention to evidence-based social work practice, attention to evidence-based field supervision is important also. The study attempts to provide a rationale for three dimensions of the supervisory relationship: alliance, style, and tools used in supervision that is grounded in research evidence.  It provides a model for future research on the relationship between field supervision and client outcomes. Data was analyzed using Bivariate Correlation and Multiple Regression Analysis.  Bivariate Correlation revealed that there were significant correlations among some of the independent variables.  The scores of the supervisors and students on alliance suggested collaborative and mutual understanding of the goals of their work, the tasks undertaken to reach the goals, and relational bonds considered essential for the completion of goals and tasks.  The scores of the students on alliance and those of the supervisors on tools suggested that there is a strong relationship between the students’ alliances with their supervisors and the tools used in supervision. The Multiple Regression Analysis revealed that the model was not significant suggesting no significant linear relationship between the client goal attainment and supervisor and student congruence on alliance, style, and tools.  There is a vast need for more research to understand this relationship to contribute to evidence-based supervisory practice to strengthen this aspect  of the social work profession.  The findings of this study will help inform social workers on aspects of the relationship that may increase student learning and competence in order to increase client goal attainment.