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The key differences between supervision and peer reflection

Supervision and peer reflection are both valuable processes used to support social workers to deliver safe and effective practice. In this blog, we explore some of the key differences between the 2.

The key differences between supervision and peer reflection

10/13/2023 12:00:00 PM

What is supervision?

Supervision is the support and guidance you get from a supervisor, manager, mentor or peer.

Supervision is typically done on a one to one basis. It involves all of the following:

  • discussing ongoing cases and issues arising from them
  • reflecting on and learning from practice
  • supporting and maintaining wellbeing
  • reviewing practice and decision making, ensuring they are in line with legal and statutory guidance
  • reviewing challenges, areas for improvement and things done well

What is peer reflection?

Peer reflection means discussing the content of your continuing professional development (CPD) with a peer. That peer might be another social worker, a manager or another professional.

Discussion can be informal or formal, and can take place in one to one or group settings.

You should discuss one piece of learning (CPD) and consider the impact this learning has had, or will have, on your practice.


Supervision: The purpose of supervision is to support your professional development, monitor progress and allow you to consider and explore your practice. It is typically guided by an elected supervisor. Within a supervision session, your supervisor should provide guidance, feedback and support with regards to your practice, wellbeing and case load.

Peer reflection: The purpose of peer reflection is to discuss what you have learnt from doing CPD and the impact a CPD activity has had, or will have, on your role, practice and the people you work with. Peer reflection offers the opportunity to scrutinise your own practice. It can be an effective way to address challenges, but it doesn’t have to be troubleshooting.


Supervision: Within supervision, the supervisor holds the supervisee accountable for their work. There may be formal evaluation and expectations that the supervisee must meet, but supervision does not have to be done formally. A supervisor should work with you to support your professional development and wellbeing. A supervisor will also, typically, keep a record of your supervision session.

Peer reflection: Within peer reflection, accountability is self-directed. You hold yourself accountable for your own learning and improvement. It is your responsibility to engage with a piece of learning and seek out a peer with whom to discuss this with. The peer has no other involvement in your CPD other than engaging in this discussion. This is unlike a supervisor, who will help in directing and leading discussion during your supervision session.


Supervision: Supervision can look different depending on your workplaces policies and guidance. Typically, your organisation will have a supervision policy. This will indicate the frequency and format of your supervision sessions, and who can act as an appropriate supervisor. It is at the discretion of your employer what your supervision sessions will look like.

Supervision is not a CPD specific requirement but should be done routinely as good practice.

Peer reflection: Peer reflection forms part of our CPD requirements. You must record peer reflection for at least one of your pieces of CPD. You can record CPD, and therefore a peer reflection, at any time.

Supervision and CPD

While supervision can be done at any time and is not a CPD specific requirement, you may still choose to use supervision as the basis for one of your pieces of CPD.

To do this, you should reflect on your supervision session after it has taken place. Think about how you have benefitted from the supervision and what you have learnt. You should consider the impact of this learning, and what changes you have made, or will make, to your practice as a result.

Remember, reflecting on a supervision session is not the same as peer reflection. When you reflect on a supervision session you are reflecting independently. When you do a peer reflection, you are discussing your learning with someone else.

To meet the CPD requirements, you must record a minimum of 2 different pieces of CPD.
You must include a peer reflection with at least one of these pieces of CPD. Record what you have learnt from discussing your CPD with a peer.

For example, if you were to reflect on a supervision session, this reflection would be a standard piece of CPD. You would then need to complete another piece of CPD with a peer reflection.

Another option would be to reflect on supervision and use this as CPD, and do a peer reflection with this piece of CPD. To do a peer reflection with this piece of CPD, discuss with a peer what you have learnt from reflecting on your supervision session.

Peer reflection within a supervision session

You may choose to do peer reflection within your supervision session. To do this, talk to your supervisor about a piece of learning you have recently completed. Afterwards, reflect on this discussion, considering how your supervisors support benefitted your practice or enhanced your learning.

By taking this learning and discussing it with a supervisor (peer), you will have successfully completed a peer reflection.

Further guidance

For more information on peer reflection and supervision, take a look at our guidance:

Read more about peer reflection.
Read more about supervision.

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