Supervision is a service I have just started to offer to other coaches; as this is something I feel passionate about, I want to grow my own skills as a coach supervisor and as such, I'm currently undertaking a Diploma in Coaching Supervision with Coaching Development in the UK.
And its not about 'supervising' coaches; rather, it's about supporting them as they gain a 'super vision' about how they're growing and developing as a coach. Read on to find out more and if you're interested in individual or group supervision with me, please use the Learn More button below.
Why coaches seek supervision?
Coaches may seek coach supervision for a variety of different reasons. Ultimately, it’s about their continuing journey and evolution as they grow, develop and resource themselves so that they can make a difference to the clients they partner with. However, many coaches may not fully understand what coach supervision is, or realise the benefits to be gained from it.
Some of the benefits of coaching supervision can include “increase self-awareness, confidence, objectivity, resourcefulness and capability” (Tkach & DiGirolamo, 2017). Increasingly the main coaching bodies of the ICF, EMCC or AC are either mandating, recommending or supporting that coaches engage with coaching supervision as part of their continued professional development.
What is Coach Supervision?
The word ‘supervision’ can conjure up a range of different thoughts depending on your experience, including but not limited to; someone telling you what to do; managing you; or someone to whom you report and are accountable to. However, in coach supervision, it might be more helpful to think of supervision as being two words: ‘super’ and ‘vision’.
Coach supervision is about co-creating an equal partnership between the supervisor and coach to facilitate the coach to develop a ‘super vision’ about how they are being and developing as a coach. This is achieved by working with the coach in three primary domains that are encapsulated within the supervision triangle and illustrated in Figure 1.
The ICF also defines coaching supervision “as a collaborative learning practice to continually build the capacity of the coach through reflective dialogue for the benefit of both coaches and clients” (International Coach Federation, 2020).
Management: Coach working as a professional
This domain encompasses how a coach is managing their coaching practice and working as a professional coach. This can cover a broad range of areas such as contracting, ethical and safety issues, planning and time management.
Support: Coach as a person
Coach as a person is around supporting the coach in areas such as well-being, self-care, resilience and confidence. It also helps the coach realise where their personal issues and challenges may be getting in the way of their professional practice.
Development: Coach growing as a coach
A professional coach is one who continues to grow, learn and develop. Supervision, through reflective learning, can help facilitate this development through activities such as creating awareness on blind spots and parallel processes; exposure to models and theory; and a refinement of coaching competencies and skills.
Different types of coach supervision
There are two approaches to coach supervision: individual coach supervision or group supervision.
Individual coach supervision
Individual coach supervision is provided for an agreed period of time, session duration and frequency. An initial contracting session, similar to that which occurs in coaching, will co-create the supervision engagement and cover the procedural, professional and psychological areas of contracting. A typical supervision engagement may be for 6-12 months, with sessions running between 30-45 minutes and occurring every 6-8 weeks.
Group Coach Supervision
Supervision can also be effectively conducted in small groups of around 6-8 coaches. The supervisor will contract with the group to create the supervision agreement. The same group of coaches will then meet for a defined number of sessions over the course of a 12-18 month period and will undertake a variety of activities that are facilitated by the supervisor. These may consist of individual supervision, in front of the entire group, group discussions and other activities – all of which are designed to encourage shared learning and growth for the entire group.
What happens in a supervision session?
At the heart of supervision is a question to the coach: “What is the supervision question?” This is where the supervisor is asking the coach to try and articulate what it is they’re trying to resolve. This can be quite a broad question! It could be a practical or practice question; or a niggle that the coach has noticed whilst working with particular client; or frustration about the lack of progress they’re making; an ethical dilemma; or something about how the coach is being present and focused; or any such similar questions.
However, through supervision, a coach will be able to gain clarity on the actual question and start to understand what’s going on behind the question, story or challenge they’re bringing to supervision. Supervision can work at the psychological contract level and unearth blind spots, assumptions, or identify parallel processes between the coach and client. Through awareness and reflection, this will enable the coach to grow and develop.
Whilst supervision incorporates many aspects of coaching, it can also be more direct and at times directive, especially around areas involving ethics or professional codes of conduct. The supervisor may ask questions in a more direct manner than in coaching. The supervisor will also know that the coach will understand certain aspects such as coaching competencies, coaching models and ethical frameworks and bring this into the supervision process. The supervisor may also refer to other models or theories that can help the coach expand their own knowledge.
And importantly, just as in coaching, the supervisor will hold a safe, trusting, and non-judgemental space, so that the coach can reach a deeper level of reflection and awareness
Confidentiality in supervision paramount. A coach needs to feel safe and also understand the extend and limits of confidentiality. This will be thoroughly covered during the initial contracting session. Furthermore, as a coach undertaking supervision, it’s possible to discuss particular client concerns or scenarios without revealing information such as names or companies. The primary focus in supervision is on the coach, not the client.
For credential holders with the ICF, 10 hours of coach supervision may be counted towards a credential renewal as core competency continuing coach education (CCE) units, providing the supervision has been undertaken with a suitably qualified coach supervisor.
Cochrane, H., & Newtown, T. (2018). Supervision and Coaching: Growth and Learning in Professional Practice.Routledge.
International Coach Federation. (2020). Coaching Supervision. Retrieved from https://coachfederation.org/coaching-supervision
Tkach, J. T., & DiGirolamo, J. A. (2017, March). The state and future of coaching supervision. International Coaching Psychology Review, 12(1), 57.