Alternative Title

Gatekeeping practice of clinical social work supervision

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Social service-Moral and ethical aspects, Social workers-Supervision of, Social workers-Mental health, Social workers-Professional ethics, Wounded healer, Gatekeeping practice, Supervision, SW professional ethics


The objective of this exploratory qualitative study was to assess how the field of social work currently maintains and preserves professional social work ethics in the clinical practice field. This study sought to understand how, in a field where the self is one of the main tools utilized, the field ensures that the practitioner’s self is fit to practice and to do so ethically. This is of particular significance in a field that research indicates that high percentages of people are attracted to because of challenging personal life experiences (Lackie, 1982; Marsh, 1988; Vincent, 1996). More specifically, this study centered its research around social work professional ethics as affected by the concept of the wounded healer, a concept that holds that the personal vulnerabilities of practitioners (also referred to as their woundedness) plays an important role in not only motivating them toward the field of clinical social work but plays a potentially integral role in their ability to help people in clinical treatment to heal. Twelve clinical social workers who supervise other clinical practitioners were interviewed for this study specifically about their role and responsibilities as so-called gatekeepers to professional practice (gatekeepers being those who help to maintain and preserve the conduct of ethical practice). The overarching impetus for this research was as follows: How do clinicians who supervise other clinicians know if the wounds of the supervisee have healed enough so that they do not interfere with that practitioner’s ability to maintain ethical practice? Because clinical supervisors hold the important position of gatekeeping in the profession, the findings of this study suggest that clinical supervisors and their gatekeeping practices inherent in and to that role could benefit from an expansion of knowledge around the wounded healer concept. Hopefully, the findings from this study will help to strengthen and standardize the supervisory system and promote more ethical practice.




iii, 89 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma. 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 77-81)

Included in

Social Work Commons