Putting you in the picture: the use of visual imagery in social work supervision

Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Ephrat Huss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The literature has consistently documented the impact of the work on the health and wellbeing of individual practitioners and the tensions they experience when mediating organisational demands with the needs of service users. Simultaneously, the quality and content of social work supervision has become increasingly vulnerable to both local and global systemic issues impacting on the profession. It is timely to explore effective short-term, self-regulatory methods of support for professionals. As a means of complementing and enriching their supervision experiences and practice. We describe an arts-based intervention in which five groups of social work professionals in England (n = 30) were invited to explore guided imagery as a tool for reflecting on a challenge or dilemma arising in their everyday practice. Evaluation data was captured from the participants’ pre-workshop questionnaire, visual analyses of the images generated and the social worker’s narratives and post-workshop evaluation. We discuss the potential application of using visual imagery as a tool to bridge gaps in supervision practice and as a simple pedagogic tool for promoting contemplative processes of learning. Visual imagery can be used to strengthen social worker’s integration of different demands with their emotional supports and coping strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-453
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number3
StatePublished - 4 May 2018


  • Social work supervision
  • arts-based research
  • coping strategies
  • social work support
  • visual imagery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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