Home Concepts Strategy Future of Coaching Supervision or Peer Consultation: An Op-Ed Blog

Supervision or Peer Consultation: An Op-Ed Blog

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In the last few years there have been increasing opinions expressed about the need (or not) for supervision of coaches. From what I see, much of this seems to have emerged from European (the European Mentoring and Coaching Council – EMCC, the Association for Coaching – AC) and Australian coaching associations. The International Coach Federation (ICF), in an attempt to be globally sensitive, seems to have fallen for a false expression of this need for supervision‬‬ and is considering incorporating coach supervision as highly suggested (but not required) for both new and experienced coaches.

While this is not a problem if it is not required, it may set a confusing and misguided precedent in the coaching industry or certification of professional coaches. In my career as a psychologist (a term that cannot be used in the USA unless you have a doctorate AND are licensed in your state locale) we were required to be supervised. Due to the fact that our 2000 required postdoctoral counseling hours were either in a mental health center or contracted with a therapist group, we were treating those with diagnosed mental disturbance (the medical model). Psychologists were required to have 2000 hours of supervision before sitting for the state licensing exam. The supervision included case review and guidance, and often a behind the mirrorobservation of the therapy session with a team watching behind a one-way mirror with the patient/client knowledge.

Coaches do not require supervision in an unlicensed profession, but peer consultation is highly suggested and encouraged all along the way.

This is for professional development, self-reflection of the coaching process, challenges that arise, and concerns with the case, or even concerns with the coachs state of mind or engagement.

I think supervision without doubt is the wrong term and creates a view that coaches need supervising or else coaching may be harmful, or unhelpful, or unproductive. In my opinion, the insinuation contained in the word supervision is the problem. We early members of the ICF and trainers of coaches have long fought for a clear boundary between psychotherapy and coaching, and this muddies those waters. Coaching is not a treatment oriented profession, and in fact, prides itself on trusting that the client is creative, competent, and resourceful“…. in other words, we bring forth new wisdom and thoughts and actions for the clients we coach, but we do not fix, treat, or advise them on their course of action in life or business.

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