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Gold Rush Coaching Supervision

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A key risk associated with the Coaching Supervision agenda is the blurring of carefully drawn distinctions the ICF has made between the coaching that is credentialed by the ICF and forms of practice applied in other parts of the world where there are differences in the regulatory frameworks for mental health services where the blurring of these boundaries is less of an issue.  As this is the case, the psychology, or therapy based models of “supervision” activity are highly inappropriate for widespread application or adoption across the coaching industry. It is important to bear in mind that the framing of the service being supplied is not therapeutic in nature and where providers do not supply services to vulnerable client populations. I believe that coaching services focused on clients who are “creative, resourceful and whole” (ICF, 2000) according to the mandate of the ICF, do not require the same type of supervision that is applied within a clinical context.

Considerations that need to be made before clinical models are imported

It is also the case that the application of clinical models of supervision should not be conducted without careful consideration of the type of practice and context. As Jeff Auerbach PhD Psychology, MCC, President of College of Executive Coaching and Past ICF Vice-President, states (email dated February 18, 2015):

With over 500,000 mental health professionals in the US (versus approximately 20,000 coaches) I think “supervision” in a helping type of field equals the type of supervision where the supervisor assumes legal responsibility. I think it is rather naïve for coaches to think that they can redefine “supervision” to mean something other than how it is commonly used in the other helping fields. Having two licenses in helping professions myself and having had over 6,000 hours of “supervision” pre-licensure, I find that the type of supervision that most mental health professionals go through is actually very similar, if not identical, to what one of the major coaching supervisor authors, Erik de Haan, describes in Supervision In Action: A Relational Approach To Coaching And Consulting.

The Wiley International Handbook of Clinical Supervision (Watkins and Milne, 2014) cites research conclusions from the past 15 years (3 studies) showing that not all state clinical supervision can clearly demonstrate quantitative, empirical benefits – not to the supervisor from their supervision training, not to the coaching supervisee, and not to the supervisee’s clients. Further, supervision is being questioned for the therapy field in Canada: On the one hand, supervision is central to a clinician or counselors’ learning and practice. On the other, the contribution it makes to a client’s wellbeing is assumed and is not always tested. Matching the practice with evidence within the specific context of application is clearly important. So, if there were to be appropriate application, then there would need to be a compelling raft of evidence based practice and research to assess the efficacy of the models applied to the type of coaching championed by the ICF.

Recent coaching research by de Haan et. al. (2013) finds that the relationship, rather than technique, most affects the success of the client engagement. Page continues (email dated February 28, 2015) by asking for ‘due diligence’ and relying on valid data to “know about the different elements of supervision [and mentoring], how they are experienced by coaches, and what the outcome is of those experiences.”

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