In coach supervision, you can expect to learn more about yourself as a person and professional, and how you can be more effective with your clients.
Coach supervision is globally recognised by coaching bodies as a practice which enhances, develops and supports qualified coaches across all experience levels and business sectors. Some coaching bodies require supervision to be part of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), whilst others recommend it and allocate CPD points without supervision being mandatory.
Supervision is distinct from other coaching-related modalities, with coaches usually encountering it after they have completed their initial coach training. While appropriate to make use of coach supervision after initial training, it is in this period that it is sometimes met with apprehension, due to lack of exposure during training. Coaches are likely to have had a primary coach trainer, perhaps a course supervisor and/or mentors, but these roles take a different form to coach supervision in its proper form.
Here are some clearly categorised roles to make sense of the what coaches encounter in their journey before coach supervision (overlap in these roles is commonplace).
Teaches coaching models, skills and theoretical frameworks academically and through practice
Develops coaches’ use and integration of coaching skills: core competencies, business practices related to coaching etc
Coaching Course Supervisor
Supports coaching trainees in administrative requirements of a course and touches on learning through practice
Coach supervision distinguishes itself from these roles because it is pertinent to coaches’ lived experience in engaging with real-world clients. Consequent to coaches having comfortably integrated their use of the basics (core competencies), supervision provides the space to reflect on their strengths, developmental areas and relationships with clients, whether those are seen to be individuals or sponsors (for the remainder of this article, read “clients” as inclusive of a sponsor where relevant).
Zooming in on these elements, supervision sets itself apart by drawing specific attention to the nature of the relationship between coach and client. In this space, coach and supervisor explore how the former shows up in relation to specific clients and circumstances, shedding light on the many factors which may have influence. Robin Shohet and Peter Hawkins introduced the 7-Eyed Model of Supervision, one of a number of useful ways to uncover these relevant elements:
- The coach’s system and client situation
- The coach’s interventions
- The relationship between the coach and their client
- The coach’s own experience
- Parallel process
- The supervisor’s self-reflections
- The wider context
Using this or other models as a roadmap, the subtleties of coaches’ relationships with clients can be made clearly visible, their influence on the whole situation recognised and appropriate resolution designed. In coach supervision, coaches can expect little attention if any, to be placed on the technicalities of coaching (i.e. the coach’s use of core competencies).
Rather, through reflective practice the supervisor assists the coach to holistically discover how the personal impacts the professional (e.g. how the coach’s psychological working-styles impact their effectiveness), holds a supportive space (e.g. using a humanistic approach to bring symptomatic relief to what is going on for the coach), identifies developmental directions (e.g. deepening and broadening the coach’s insight into their coaching model and theoretical frameworks), and the interplay between these (safety and ethics, relationship and learning, systems and culture).
You will notice the complexity and depth of this practice. Aptly, coaches are encouraged to select their supervisors considering:
- They are specifically trained as supervisors
- They are in regular supervision themselves
- They maintain their own continuous professional development
- They are accountable and ethical (e.g. belong to a professional body)
- They are specifically trained in a valid psychological modality (core to supervision is psychological-mindedness)
Whilst acknowledging the value of peer-coaching, having one’s own coach, and “peer supervision”, coach supervision comes to prominence in how it coherently and powerfully surfaces and transforms all the factors relating to coaches’ experience of their practice.
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