What is really going on in the group supervision of Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) - an exploratory study using thematic analysis.

Ridley, Neal (2017) What is really going on in the group supervision of Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) - an exploratory study using thematic analysis. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of Essex.

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Abstract

This research explores the content of group supervision sessions for Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) to further understand ‘what is really going on’. There has recently been a re-emergence of interest in group supervision and Educational Psychologists are increasingly involved in this work (Dunsmuir, Lang and Leadbetter, 2015, p.9). There is currently a paucity of research in the UK that has directly explored the content of group supervision sessions; research to date has tended to survey supervisory practice or focus on eliciting the views of participants about supervision through the use of questionnaires and focus groups. This research addresses this gap and begins a process of exploration into what really happens within group supervision sessions. Within the local authority in which this research was carried out, group supervision is regularly provided to ELSAs by Educational Psychologists (EPs). The core aims are to support ELSAs with their professional development and to ensure that they practice safely and appropriately. This research involved the recording and subsequent transcription of three group supervision sessions. Themes within the data were then identified using an inductive approach to thematic analysis. This allowed for a rich and complex picture to emerge allowing an insight into what was actually happening within the group supervision sessions. Eleven main themes and forty-six sub-themes were identified whilst exploring the contributions of both the ELSAs and the EPs. The identified themes were found to be consistent with Hawkins and Shohet’s (2012) functions of supervision which is a commonly used framework for supervision within educational psychology in the UK (Dunsmuir et al., 2015, p.9). The findings were then considered in the light of experiential learning (Kolb, 1984) along with an approach to support this process – ORID (Marsick and Maltbia, 2009) and a psychodynamic understanding about group processes (Bion, 1961). The research suggested that within the group supervision sessions ELSAs were exploring their skills, knowledge and understanding of the casework in which they were involved along with experiencing a degree of emotional support. It was also evident that both the ELSAs and the EPs were exercising an element of ‘quality control’ within their work. The research also highlighted the need for a greater attention to group processes, particularly those of an unconscious nature, in order to develop the supervision that ELSAs receive. It is suggested that a psychodynamic perspective may be helpful in achieving this goal.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology awarded by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in association with the University of Essex. Available to download on 9 July 2023.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology, Edpsych Updates
Subjects: Learning & Education > Educational Psychology
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Research
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2104

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