Thursday 3 October 2019

Thank Heavens: A Good Text!...

You know that feeling - you're slogging through worthy and thoughtful, and probably valuable, texts on whatever it is you are studying, and suddenly you stumble across one that is written to be read, thought-provoking, exciting even - and thoroughly re-energising.  Thus me, studying for my Coaching Supervision Qualification.  Yes, yes, Hawkins and Shohet is essential reading, and their 7-eyed model is not without merit; and de Haan can't be ignored, and has some real insights; and then there's some good essays in some of the collections (The Heart of Coaching Supervision and Full Spectrum Supervision)... But to be honest it can all get a bit wearisome.  And then someone (whom I can't remember, or I would call down blessings on her (or conceivably his) head) suggested Hewson and Carroll's Reflective Practice in Supervision. So I dutifully bought it, it arrived, and the clouds parted, the sun came out, and birds began to sing.

It's not just that it's well written - though it undoubtedly is.  The authors have thought carefully about what will be useful to busy practitioners and have structured and signposted the book well. And it's not just that the content is good - though again it undoubtedly is: it gives the clearest idea of what is distinctive about supervision that I have read; and has a number of simple but profound frameworks that one can instantly recognise as useful, but also as worthy of further reading and thought.  But also, it builds on, refers to, and expands many of my particular areas of interest.  Michael White of Narrative Therapy fame, is an acknowledged reference point, as is Nancy Kline, of the Thinking Environment, for example.

So do I really like it because it speaks to my prejudices?  I think not, for I disagree with it (and with White and Kline) in various important ways.  In fact, interestingly, it offers a particular approach (the Consolidation Stance) that fills what seems to me to be the biggest gap in Kline's model. Nancy seems to assume that once one has had the right thought(s) then right action will follow as day follows night.  Not so Hewson and Carroll. They recognise that more is needed (as indeed does Scott, in his ground-breaking Shifting Stories, where the last part of the model, Enriching the Plot, addresses precisely that issue... but I digress...)

So if you happen to be studying to be a Coaching Supervisor, this is highly recommended.  Or if you are a coach, I think there is a lot to learn from this.  But above all, if you are thinking of writing a book for practitioners, have a look at this as a model - and compare it with other, worthy but weighty texts: you will learn a lot.

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