Friday 31 January 2020

Coaching Supervision (revisited)

Yesterday, I finished the last assignment for my ILM 7 qualification in Coaching Supervision. I have blogged previously about a question that arose early in the programme about the difference between supervision and coaching a coach.  That difference has become ever clearer as we progressed through our joint exploration, and in particular through the experience of practicing supervising.

But one of the things that most clarified it, was reading the excellent book Reflective Practice in Supervision (about which I have also blogged previously, here and here). Along the way, and almost in passing, Hewson and Carroll remark that one of the key purposes of supervision is to help the practitioner to review and revise their practice framework.  A practice framework, they further explain (and this is from memory - the book is upstairs - so don't assume this is verbatim...), is a set of values, skills, habits, behaviours and attitudes that inform our practice. More often than not (like the engine of a car) it is under the bonnet, as it were, and we don't attend to it. We merely drive (to push the analogy about as far as it will go) and it all works.  

But to become better coaches, we need to look under the bonnet; to tune it up, replace components that no longer work etc. So the supervisor's job (inter alia) is to help the coach to make explicit all those implicit aspects of the work, to examine them, improve or replace them, and so on. This is the formative, or developmental, aspect of supervision.

That's not the only role, of course.  The supervisor has two other key functions. One is the normative function, which is about ethical and professional standards. This is actually an area to which I think I need to pay more attention in my supervision. The ethical aspect is one I am interested in and typically attend to: I love that kind of discussion.  But professional standards, including things like checking a coach has appropriate insurance, discussing membership of appropriate professional bodies etc, is something I can easily forget to raise.  The third function is restorative, which is about helping the coach to process and deal with the emotional weight of his or her coaching client relationships and the issues discussed. I am better at that one.  Attentive readers will have made the links between these and the coaching rooms described in the Hewson and Carroll book, which I blogged about a mere three months ago.

So plenty to think about as I move ahead (and there's a lot more, of course) but for the moment , I think it's time to sit back and put my feet up, and enjoy the feeling of having smashed the (self-imposed) deadline of finishing my work on this qualification before the end of January.

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