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Book Shelf: Supervision in Coaching

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Coaching supervision is the latest area in publication of books for coaches.  Edited by Jonathan Passmore and supported by the Association for Coaching, Supervision in Coaching: Understanding coaching supervision, ethics, CIPD and the law is a 2011 addition to books on this topic. Chapters in each of the four parts of this book are authored by a variety of coach practitioners, with Jonathan Passmore writing the introductory chapter that provides an overview of the entire book.

What is interesting about the contributors to this book is that 17 are psychologist/counselors from the UK; seven are business people from the UK, and the remaining five are business people from the US.  This aligns with the beginning of the coaching supervision movement in the UK by psychology professionals who have become coaches and bring with them the supervision mindset from psychology and counseling.

The first part of the book focuses on various approaches to supervision, the majority of these approaches being drawn from social work, nursing or counseling practice. Passmore acknowledges “Even the relevance of supervision has been in question.  Given the diverse nature of coaching, diversity in continuous professional development can be considered a strength.”  Part 2 looks at coaching ethics and the law, looking at the development of ethical standards as they relate to issues facing coaches and their continuous professional development.

Part 3 looks at continuous professional development from both the UK and US perspectives. The field of management is looked at in relation to coaching and the path to recognized professionalism. The next part looks at personal reflection as an approach to continuous professional development and includes case studies from UK, US, and Europe.  Passmore concludes by stating “coaching is moving forward with the aspirations of becoming a profession”.  As a reviewer, I disagree that coaching desires to become a profession in terms of a traditional profession.  Coaching needs to be professional (as with management and consultancy) which will allow for agility to meet the needs of an ever changing world.

As I reviewed this book I could see that replacing the word ‘supervision’ with ‘mentoring’ or ‘consultation’ and the book would be no different.  So that is a point I would like to make. Bottom-line – this is a valuable resource yet the title is suspect when the industry has not agreed upon a term for this activity.  As I looked at the books being published on Coaching Supervision they emanate from the UK and psychologists, with Peter Hawkins being involved in the movement toward supervision in the coaching profession.  In my opinion, authoring books and/or conducting research for professional coach associations is one way of marketing a term with the intent that it becomes the industry standard.

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