Preparing For Coaching Supervision

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

The key factor, in my view, that distinguishes a professional and ethical coach from a “run of the mill” coach is the supervision regime of the coach. The Ridler Report and recent coaching tenders and literature all have one element in common – the importance of supervision for an ethical, professional and safe coaching practice. Supervision can also be a key element in helping you attain your CPD requirements as a coach.

In “On Being a Supervisee-Creating Learning Partnerships, 2nd edition”- Michael Carroll & Maria C. Gilbert (2011) Vukani Publishing the authors suggest the following useful preparation exercise – “let your mind drift back over your recent work. What surfaces for you immediately? Let your mind wander over the following questions:

  1. What interactions/sessions/clients/interventions were you pleased with?
  2. What was difficult for you?
  3. What were you/are you, uncertain about?
  4. What are you looking forward to in your next working session?
  5. Are there any anxieties about the way you are working with a particular client/group/programme?
  6. Are there any anxieties about your relationship with clients/other tutors/managers etc.?
  7. Are there some doubts/anxieties/feelings just “out of view” which you would rather keep out of view? Identify the feelings as well as the items.
  8. What interactions have you enjoyed most? What were the feelings?

…Immediate preparation for the supervisory session:

  1. Are there any crisis/emergency issues you need to talk about?
  2. Are there any themes emerging for you in your overall work that you would like to review in supervision?
  3. Are there any organisational/training areas you want to talk about in supervision?
  4. What do you want from this session of supervision? For yourself, your clients, your learning?
  5. Are there any areas of the supervisory contract you want to review/negotiate”

Supervision can be accessed in a variety of forms – peer supervision, group supervision and individual supervision. In relation to my own practice, I use a combination of all three elements- why? Peer supervision and group supervision have their advantages – drawing on, and sharing group knowledge and experience, but there may be time barriers, confidentiality concerns and/or confidence issues in sharing some topics in these sessions. Individual supervision provides a bespoke, focused opportunity to have a detailed reflection on my coaching practice.

All well and good I hear you say, but what about the expense? If you are expecting clients to invest in your coaching services, what is stopping you from investing in a supervision programme that ensures that your coaching is the best it can be. It is an investment and the purpose of this blog is to provide some tips to ensure that you get value for money from that investment.

  • Type of Supervision – choose the most cost effective package that fits your needs. This may involve a “pick and mix” approach- using peer supervision or group supervision may reduce the frequency required for individual supervision and thus reduce the cost.
  • What does good supervision cover? The supervision should cover the following elements:

NORMATIVE – ensuring that you are working in a competent and ethical way as a coach- the quality assurance that you can provide for your marketing strategy for your practice.

FORMATIVE – helping to refresh and develop your skills, theoretical knowledge, personal attributes, self-awareness etc. so that you become increasingly competent as a coach.

SUPPORTIVE – There can be sessions that have an emotional impact on you as the coach – sometimes this presents as a conscious effect, sometimes as an unconscious impact. This is where the concept of transference comes into play. Supervision provides a health check and provides a check and challenge mechanism to ensure that the coach and coaching practice are kept healthy.

  • Format for supervision – are you going to rely on a verbal summary of a session or focus on a specific session – some coaches use video/audio. Think of the impact this may have on your client’s engagement, also make sure you cover confidentiality and data protection issues regarding the retention and handling of any material by yourself and the supervisor. Remember to specifically contract with your client regarding this.
  • Make sure the “whole” of you turns up – you do not coach in isolation, to get the most from supervision be prepared to share and reflect on work, home, personal issues etc as relevant.
  • Preparation – build on your own reflective practice skills by reviewing the sessions and identify the topics/issues/themes that you wish to focus upon.

I hope that this blog has provided some useful tips for supervision. A useful introduction could be to attend the British School of Coaching’s group coaching supervision sessions, suitable for anyone who is interested in coaching and mentoring – regardless of the level of experience.

  • Learn about the key elements for supervision – formative, normative and supportive
  • Discover the challenges coaches face in managing a coaching session – and discover tips to assist.
  • Comes with a free gift- REFLECTIVE LEARNING

For more information email

Self-observation brings man to the realization of the necessity of self-change. And in observing himself a man notices that self-observation itself brings about certain changes in his inner processes. He begins to understand that self-observation is an instrument of self-change, a means of awakening.” – George Grudjieff

Martin Hill, Senior Tutor, BSC
Martin Hill, Senior Tutor, BSC

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