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The why and what of coaching supervision

I have ceased to be amazed at the number of times I get asked, “but why do I need a supervisor? I’m a certified coach. Don’t you trust me?” So I decided to sit down and share my thoughts on the subject. Let me start by saying that I don’t view supervision as nice to have but as a MUST have for any professional coach who holds his/her clients’ best interests at heart.

What is “supervision”?

In essence, it’s a peer to peer relationship intended to help the development and wellbeing of the coach. It can work in a number of ways:

  • One-to-one supervisor to coach where the supervisor is generally a more experienced coach and this adds a mentoring element to the dynamic

  • Co-coaching – peer to peer

  • Group supervision – where a supervisor meets with a group of two or more coaches

  • Peer group – co-coaching in a group

All are excellent ways to help, support and grow as a coach. In my experience, the traditional supervisor-coach relationship is the most powerful since it facilitates growth in experience and skill set for the coach and offers a “safe haven” for discussing any confidential matters. Supervision offers an opportunity for a reflective dialogue to help YOU grow just as you help your client to grow.

What’s in it for you as a coach?

Great question. There are a number of excellent benefits to having a coach supervisor. Benefits such as:

The ongoing development and sharpening of your skills. As a professional, I’m guessing that you have your client’s development and wellbeing at heart. In which case, constantly seeking to build on your own is vital.

Supervision will give you a sounding board for checking out ideas and thoughts you may have on innovating the way you work with your clients.

You may, from time to time, have specific concerns related to a client and need a confidential ear. You can do this with a supervisor and maintain your own client confidentiality as your supervisor will know what questions to ask – and what not to ask.

Your supervisor will also be on hand to offer a wake-up call on ethical conduct.

At a professional development level, supervision will add to your portfolio of continuing professional development (cpd). This is an important element for any accreditation you may seek with a professional body such as the Association for Professional Coaching (APC).

Finally, supervision will boost your personal confidence in your skills and your value as a professional.

Routes to connection

I often get asked if supervision has to be face to face. The simple answer to that is no, it doesn’t. There are a number of routes that can be taken and the final decision has to be one taken by the coach, with consideration given to time, distance and personal preference. Options may include:

  • Face to face

  • Telephone

  • Online – Skype or a similar service

  • E-mail

  • Chatroom facilities (be careful if you choose this route)

This is a highly professional “partnership” and needs to be undertaken as such. Some things to consider are:

  • Do you have or desire a formal “contract?”

  • What methodology and route will be used

  • Timing and schedule

  • Boundaries

  • Requirements of your professional body

In essence, this is a coaching relationship between you, the coach, and your coach (the supervisor) and should be approached just as earnestly as the relationship with your own clients.

What it comes down to is providing the very best support for YOUR clients – the most important person in the coaching equation.

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