in     by Mary Britton 24-09-2016

Why a Coaching Supervisor? Who has one and how do you choose one?

“Words are secondary… far more important is the space of conscious presence that arises as you listen. That space is a unifying field of awareness in which you meet the other person without the separate barriers created by conceptual thinking”.
Eckhart Tolle

In some parts of the world coaching organisations require their coaching members to be in supervision at all times (eg CIPD, EMCC) Some clients will not contract a coach who does not provide evidence of an ongoing and active supervisory relationship. ICF do not require coaches to be in supervision. However ICF do recognise that supervision can offer continuing education and effective core competency support for its credentialed coaches – they now count supervision hours as appropriate to be counted as pd and used as CCEUs for credential renewals. In other words ICF now acknowledge the efficacy of supervision in keeping coaches learning and actively growing their professional competence and excellence. If you’d like to get some more quotes and thinking on supervision I recommend this And ICF’s thinking on supervision is here

If you decide that supervision is important for your ongoing development and excellence as a coach; to keep you safely practicing within your chosen code of ethics; or even to keep your practice fresh and creative – and yourself growing as a human being – how do you then choose a supervisor?

ICF strongly suggest that you choose an ICF member of good standing with a credential and with some years of experience as a coach. And that you choose someone who is committed to their own education as evidenced by their record of research, thinking or pd. And, if you are choosing a non-ICF member that you pick someone who knows and understands your code of ethics; is in good standing with their own association or organisation; is willing to understand, honour and uphold the ICF core competencies (including definitions relating to what coaching is, what a coach does and how contracts work); and that they are familiar with a variety of coaching methodologies.

So what else? I strongly suggest that you choose someone who will support you and challenge you. Perhaps someone different from your usual choices? Who will stand alongside you without opinions or ideas which call into question your ability to come up with your own solutions. Who offers an effective process for supervision and who is willing to hear how you would like to be supervised – and willing to try out your ideas within an effective framework. Who regards you as whole, complete, creative and resourceful. Who will keep you safe in supervision sessions and in your practice. Who is willing to listen to you completely, to bring their very best ‘game’ to your coaching practice dilemmas, and who has a range of ways - which they are willing to articulate – to bring some fresh thinking to your aid in discovering, salving and solving whatever you are bringing to supervision. Someone who is willing to call you about what you are not saying. To provide feedback, from their observation of you – and from their experience, to support you in uncovering the things which are hidden from you and which may be obstacles to your best possible self-expression as a coach. Interview them. Ask lots of questions. Get a feel for them and choose them.

Good supervisors, like good coaches, recognise that there needs to be an excellent fit if there is to be sufficient trust and rapport to keep you moving towards your best self as a coach. Good supervisors will happily refer you to other supervisors to ensure you get the sort of supervision you would like. Good luck! 

Mary Britton
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