Supervision of paraprofessionals in the human service field

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Umlah, Catherine Ann
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ABSTRACT This research study examines the supervision of paraprofessionals in the human services using a qualitative methodology. It focuses on the views of the paraprofessionals, who were all women, with the central research question: What are paraprofessionals’ views of supervision in the human service field? The literature on this topic is scarce and the goal of this research is to improve our understanding of the most effective supervisory practices for paraprofessionals and ultimately to improve practice in this area. The qualitative methodology was based on a phenomenological approach and used one on one interviews to capture the views and experiences of the participants. The findings indicated that women paraprofessionals clearly value and benefit from supervision and respond best to approaches that are highly supportive, empowering and collaborative in nature, and use a variety of formats including one on one sessions, group meetings and peer support. It is important to ensure adequate job orientation and relevant training. The supervisory relationship is key to the success of supervision and should include ongoing feedback and validation. Concerns regarding safety in the workplace as well as burnout need to be addressed to improve working conditions and job satisfaction for the paraprofessional. Issues related to oppression and culture are important in understanding the unique experience of the paraprofessional and need to be addressed by both supervisors and the agencies that employ them. Further research on this topic is recommended.
supervision, paraprofessionals, social work