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Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2005 Jun;26(5):489-505.

The cultural realities of clinical supervision in an acute inpatient mental health setting.

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  • 1Central Sydney Area Mental Health Service, Rozelle, New South Wales, Australia.


In this paper, the cultural realities of clinical supervision (CS) in acute inpatient mental health settings are explored using an ethnographic approach. Findings suggest that there is a verbal acceptance of CS by mental health nurses but a cultural belief that it has limited experiential value and, thus, a cautious attitude towards its adoption is in practice. This may, in part, be attributable to many nurses believing that they are already undertaking CS, although the informal supervision described does not fit with established definitions of formal supervision. The language used by nurses demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of the benefits of clinical supervision. However, the belief that existing structures inherent to nursing practice already convey these benefits may contribute to the culture of passive resistance to clinical supervision revealed by the findings. This study contributes to current discussions regarding the purpose of CS, the realities of its implementation, and its role relative to existing professional support opportunities.

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