9.6 Balancing Administrative Supervision and Reflective Supervision

What Is It?

For many programs, one person provides both administrative and reflective supervision. This is a real challenge because the purpose of each is so different. Administrative supervision is a process of accountability and leadership. The administrative supervisor ensures that the home visitor fully performs all aspects of the position and follows the rules and protocols of the program (as well as conducts annual performance reviews).

The supervisor may strategize with a home visitor who is struggling in this context or he or she may need to create and monitor a performance improvement plan. There is a clear power differential in the relationship.

Reflective supervision is a collaborative effort aimed at reaching deeper understanding of the family’s and home visitor’s experiences and of their work together. The supervisor and home visitor share power. The process is more subjective and fluid.

When a supervisor must perform both types of supervision, the responsibilities and activities of each role must be clearly articulated and understood. It may be necessary in the midst of reflective supervision, for example, to stop and say, “We’ve come to a topic here that isn’t part of reflective supervision work. I have to speak to you in my administrator role. Even though I understand the paperwork is challenging, you must keep your files up to date.”