The Importance of Supervision for Social and Health Workers

To be precise, it would be necessary to say that the subjectivity of the practitioner is “put into play”, more than into play, in the sense that it is not only the cause of his being there in the position of practitioner, but it is also the ” cause” of the very nature of the relationship that he establishes from time to time with the other (user or patient).

What is monitoring?

Supervision is a tool to rework and restructure the modes of communication and organization of the work context, through listening and welcoming the social and health worker, to prevent professional exhaustion (Il rischio di burnout negli operatori sociosanitari, by Franco De Felice, Barbara Cioccolanti, Edizioni Goliardiche, Psicologia di comunità, 1999) and improve the quality of services and the well-being of workers.

In the field of personal services, there is a growing demand for an intervention capable of dealing not with the users or clients of the service but rather with the workers who exercise their professional functions there.

The management of personnel in the psychosocial, socio-educational, training, rehabilitation and socio-health sectors is increasingly becoming a need, a request for intervention.

From a historical phase where the supervision of operational teams was understood above all as an emergency intervention, to be activated when the service was going through a critical phase, we have moved to a time when the support of operators and work groups, through supervision, takes on the character of a normal and physiological instrument of accompaniment and growth of service (Giorgio Cavicchioli, Narrare i gruppi. Clinical and social perspectives. Year II, Vol. I, March 2007, La supervisione nei servizi alla persona. The Healing Relationship).

SUPERVISION AS A TOOL (S., Premoli, Il soggetto in divenire, Libreria Cortina, Milan 1966)

Without supervision, the practitioner runs the risk of a psychic overload that could lead to a situation of wear and tear, called “burn out”, which will negatively mark his ability to respond adequately to the request formulated by the user.

A sine qua non of supervision is the openness of the operator to the request for help, starting from a situation of discomfort.

By being open to a request for help, the practitioner has the possibility of entering into the supervisory relationship by going to occupy the place that his user/patient occupies in the relationship with him.

Supervision concerns the practitioner-user relationship, a relationship that the practitioner undertakes to integrate into the supervision, as well as the fragments of the relationship. By “reject”, we mean anything which, at the end of an exchange, poses a problem of “meaning” to the practitioner in the sense of guilt or, in any case, of perplexity.

Rejections are brought to supervision to be “processed” in the sense of a search for meaning that reflects not only the psychic economy of the practitioner but also of the user engaged in the relationship with him at that time. . (S., Finzi, Misurazione, original calco nell’analisi di un caso di psicosi infantile”, in “Il piccolo Hans” n.53, 1984, Dedalo, Bari).


The actors of the contract must always be at least three in number: the Institution, the operators and the supervisor;

There must be a clarification of the request and the objectives;

Management must have an enclosed space, separated and protected from any outside interference with a predetermined weekly or fortnightly frequency;


Supervision is in itself recognized as a “working practice” because it involves doing something within the framework of a professional working relationship. This is why it is considered that supervision should be scheduled during working hours and should not cost the practitioner money or time.

Group supervision activates, in an experiential and pragmatic way, collaborative processes, helping the operator in emotional, professional, planning, relational difficulties, mutual recognition and trust, awareness and acceptance of differences and professional skills, detection of training needs, sharing of group work strategies, stimulation of a working climate based on: collaboration, solidarity, participation, autonomy, listening and creativity, understood as the search for new solutions.

Author of the article: Dr Letizia Ciabattoni


Il rischio di burnout negli operatori sociosanitari, di Franco De Felice, Barbara Cioccolanti, Edizioni Goliardiche, Psicologia di comunità, 1999;

The supervision comes strumento di lavoro, articolo sula natura e il ruolo della supervisione nella pratica degli operatori psico-socioeducativi, pubblicato sula rivista: PROSPETTIVE SOCIALI E SANITARIE, n. 14, 1993, di Premoli Sergio;

Di Mattei V., Prunas A., Sarno L. (2004). The burn-out negli operatori della salute mental: quali interventi? Psicologia della salute, II;

Giorgio Cavicchioli, Narrare i gruppi. Prospective cliniche e sociali. Annon II, Vol. I, March 2007, Supervision nei servizi alla persona. Curare the relation che cura;

Cavicchioli G., Bianchera L., (2005) Supervisione e consulenza nell’organizzazione cooperativa sociale. Percorsi di apprenticeship and cambiamento nei gruppi di lavoro. Roma, Armando Editore; Braidi G.,

Cavicchioli G., (2006) Conoscere e condurre i gruppi di lavoro. Experience of supervision and intervention nei Servizi alla persona, Milano, Franco Angeli;

Lama, Antonella, Prendersi cura dei curanti: i gruppi di psicodinamica per operatori sanitari, 2009, Franco Angeli;

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