Monday 25 February 2019

Supervision in the Thinking Environment

Those who follow this blog assiduously (yes, both of you!) will know that I am a fan of Nancy Kline's work on the Thinking Environment; and also that I have raised questions about it, and in particular the risk of collusion inherent in all person-centred approaches. (I have also blogged about how that risk is mitigated in coaching, here).

At a recent meeting of Nancy's Collegiate in London, I learned that Eve Turner, a member of the Collegiate, had just published a book, The Heart of Coaching Supervision, which contains a chapter on Supervision in a Thinking Environment.

So of course, I rushed out and bought the book (when I say 'out' I speak metaphorically: I bought it on the web...). And very good it is, too.

And today, I tried my first supervision using Eve's Thinking Environment Supervision model. It works something like this:

Part 1

Supervisor: With regard to your (focus) practice, what would you like to think about, and what are your thoughts?

What more do you think or feel or want to say? (and repeat...)

Part 2

Supervisor: What question(s) do you have of me?

Part 3

Coach: What observation, question or input do you have for me that we have not already covered?

Part 4

Coach’s final comments/reflections

Both: what quality do we admire in the other?

I found this very easy to use: it fits in intuitively with my work as a Thinking Environment coach. More importantly, the coach I was supervising found it very powerful: she generated significant learning for herself about a very difficult question she had bought to supervision; some of that in Part 1, where she was allowed to think for as long as she wanted, in ease (as we walked above Ullswater, as it happens); and then encouraged to think for a little longer still.  And some of it in response to the answers I provided to her questions in Part 2, and a reflection I shared in Part 3.

And it clearly addresses the earlier concern I had about collusion (which of course is particularly important in the context of supervision) by requiring the supervisor both to answer questions the coach may have, and also to provide any additional 'observation, question or input' that has not already been covered. That places an obligation on the supervisor to be sufficiently skilled to address (for example) all the issues raised by Hawkins' 7-eyed model, or all the considerations of Murdoch and Arnold's Full Spectrum Supervision.

So a very fruitful afternoon, both for the coach and for me as I continue to learn about supervision - and given I have just started on my post-Graduate Diploma in Supervision, that is just as well!

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