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07 Dec, 2011

Coaching & Supervision: Questions & Answers by Pam Lidford

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coaching Academy Info|Coaching Academy News|Continuous Professional Development|Trainer In The Spotlight

Coaching & Supervision: Questions & Answers by Pam Lidford

The Coaching Academy’s Senior Trainer, Pam Lidford, answers your questions about supervision.

How often do supervision sessions happen?

It varies on the coaches requirements.

Usually 4-6 weeks apart though it can be a longer gap, ie up to 8 weeks. All Coaching bodies now recommend supervision and give a guideline ratio of 1 hour supervision for every 8 hours coaching (1:8) up to 1:15

Do you conduct them on the phone?

Yes, though they can be done face to face if appropriate for coach and client and if part of a coaching circle, supervision can take part in groups

What is the role of a supervisor?

Supervisors have three main functions:  (Kadushin 1976) (Proctor 1986)

1) the educational development of the practitioner and the fulfilment of potential
2) the practical and psychological support to carry through the responsibilities of the role
3) the promotion and maintenance of good standards of work and adherence to policies and good practice

What actually happens in supervision sessions and the roles of the supervisor and coach?

The process usually involves the coach presenting a specific case, issue or questions that are concerning them to their supervisor during a session. The aim is to acquire a deeper understanding of what is taking place for:

a) the client,
b) for the coach and client relationship and;
c) for the coach.

This provides the coach with a deeper understanding about their work and role as a coach, steers them towards good practice and leaves them feeling guided and reassured. It can also include session content that the coach wishes to discuss or explore as well as any tools or interventions they used in the session.

The supervisor is used at different stages of a coaches’ journey and is now seen as paramount for good practice in the same way as in counselling, therapy, social work and clinical psychology.

Supervision offers a time and place for reflection on a coaches’ work with a senior colleague. The purpose is to support the coach with any work assignments that are complex or difficult so they can gain clarity around their professional practice in order to enhance the work with their client.

They are there for the coach to discuss, share and explore thoughts, feelings and situations that arise during coaching sessions they take part in.

The supervisor is there to ask them questions, listen to their anxieties or challenges, offer them support and reassurance around difficult or challenging client cases and give them ideas and suggestions to continue their learning and professional development.

Mirror and self exploratory work may be part of a session especially if the coach knows they feel particular emotions or find their mind wandering when working with a client, ie frustrated, bored, etc

As a trainee the coach may use the supervisor for clearer guidance and to share and explore any anxieties they experience at the start of their journey. A senior coach may look for a more equal and consultative approach.

What kinds of things are brought to the discussion?

Lack of rapport and or empathy for/with a client and what makes that client difficult to work with, reassurance and support to get the coach to experience important insights that free them up to work more effectively with this particular client and future clients with similar characteristics. These kind of scenarios are often brought to supervision sessions.

Leading on from that, a coach may be too supportive and not challenging enough and vice versa, supervision will help the coach to recognise this and may lead onto further personal development in order to understand and then address any underlying issues that need working on.

Coaches sometimes feel stuck as their client isn’t progressing but they don’t fully understand why, this is a topic for supervision.

Peter Bluckert has a table of client ‘types’ Excellent, good, average, poor and inappropriate to intervene right now. Some coaches (trainee and experienced) find themselves working with the last 2 or 3 categories and can get stuck, lost or start to attempt to rescue.

Exploring this in supervision sessions helps the coach to gain another perspective and be able to make the appropriate choices regarding working with such clients (or not).

Your client may have a struggle or dilemma with an issue at work that is outside of your coaching expertise or comfort zone, your supervisor can provide you with reassurance and or guidance.

You may suffer a confidence challenge and wonder if you are really able to make it as a personal or executive coach. You will find the space to safely explore and understand what is going on for you at this moment and receive the support you require to aid you in moving through this challenge back towards confidence.

Your supervisor will also support your professional development through understanding and working with your learning style, form of intelligence, main drivers, developing your inner supervisor, giving and receiving feedback as well as working with and developing your learning cycle. You may bring personal as well as professional topics to a session.

Peer supervision or coaching is often the chosen option for new coaches due to ‘no cost’ being incurred, however, if the trainee coach does not have some intervention by a senior experienced coach who has a sound understanding of supervision processes, it could hinder the development of the trainee, as peers may be too inexperienced to comprehend some of the complexities and in turn prevent the coach from their best practice.

Supervision serves the interests of the coach and client as it ensures you are working ethically and responsibly, it also supports your education and learning. Their job is different to a trainer as they are expected to provide information and also look out for any poor practice in order to support the coach in developing and improving their professional skills.

A supervisor is someone who should have good professional experience and practice, know their topic well, understand supervision and have been through the process themselves. It is suggested supervision may well become one of the main methods of regulating the emerging profession of coaching.

Coaches may use their supervisor as mentor, trainer/teacher, coach, for personal as well as professional development. It is now expected when applying for corporate tenders, that the coach will have supervision as part of their ongoing professional development.

1 Response to "Coaching & Supervision: Questions & Answers by Pam Lidford"

1 | Shoana Taylor

January 24th, 2012 at 9:30 pm


This article is a pot of gold. I’m much much clearer on the detail around coaching supervision now and the points at which one can enter into a supervision process along the coaching career path . Thank you Pam!

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