Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Supervision and the dynamics of collusion : a rule of optimism?

Revell, Lisa; Burton, Victoria


Profile Image

Dr Lisa Revell
Lecturer in Social Work / Director of Student Experience


In the UK, Serious Case Reviews and Inquiries undertaken over the last five decades continue to evidence that children are both silenced and rendered invisible as a result of parental behaviour and professional inaction. There have been recent calls for practitioners to enact greater professional curiosity in child protection practice, whilst simultaneously acknowledging that practitioners have less opportunity to be curious in overly bureaucratic and unsupportive environments. Good-quality supervision may provide one mechanism to encourage professional curiosity, but supervision and the supervisory processes therein have received scant attention or scrutiny within such inquiries. Whilst supervision can act as a conduit to encourage good practice, ensuring compliance with standards and promoting the positive well-being of individual practitioners (the core conditions under which professional curiosity may flourish), we hypothesise that complex relational dynamics have the potential to disrupt such endeavours. In the discussion that follows, we shall first seek to explore the tenets of good supervision, before scrutinising the potential pitfalls, with a focus on how one specific factor, the rule of optimism, may be transposed onto the supervisory relationship and, as in front line practice, how it may stifle professional curiosity in the supervisory relationship.


Revell, L., & Burton, V. (2016). Supervision and the dynamics of collusion : a rule of optimism?. The British journal of social work, 46(6), 1587-1601.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2015
Online Publication Date Nov 11, 2015
Publication Date 2016-09
Deposit Date Nov 24, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal British journal of social work
Print ISSN 0045-3102
Electronic ISSN 1468-263X
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 6
Pages 1587-1601
Keywords Child protection; Safeguarding; Supervision; Professional curiosity; Rule of optimism
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in British journal of social work following peer review. The version of record Lisa Revell, Victoria Burton; Supervision and the Dynamics of Collusion: A Rule of Optimism?, The British Journal of Social Work, Volume 46, Issue 6, 1 September 2016, Pages 1587–1601 is available online at:


You might also like

Downloadable Citations