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What is Coaching Supervision and Is It Important?

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This taxonomy suggests multiple purposes for coaching supervision. Gray (2010) wonders if it is worth considering a networked approach to supervision, where different supervisors provide support for different purposes. This is consistent with Grant’s (2011) finding that many Australian coaches use different types of supervision depending on their needs at any particular time.

One may go further and ask why coaches need supervision at all – are there not other activities that serve the same purpose? Passmore & McGoldrick (2009) list other avenues for professional development including journaling, training and mentoring. They suggest that different forms of development may suit different coaches and may be of particular value at different stages of a coach’s development. They argue, for example, that new coaches may benefit most from group supervision, and experienced coaches may find journaling and peer mentoring more useful.

The study

We spoke to 29 purchasers of coaching services from 27 different organisations. We asked them whether or not they required prospective coaches to be undergoing supervision, and if so why. If they didn’t require prospective coaches to be undergoing supervision, we asked them why not.

We spoke to 33 executive coaches (table 1). Rather than start by asking them about supervision per se, we began with Moyes (2009) four purposes:
⦁ Do you have a learning plan/objectives of some sort specific to coaching?
⦁ If you find yourself stuck in a coaching assignment, how do you go about becoming unstuck?
⦁ Who do you look to for support if you experience strong unwelcome emotional experiences in a session or assignment?
⦁ What coaching ethics do you ascribe to?
⦁ How do you monitor the extent to which you are acting in service of your coachee’s goals, versus client/organisational goals?

Only after asking these questions did we specifically ask about supervision. In selecting coaches to survey we didn’t include coaches from our own ‘guilds’, since they undergo regular peer supervision as part of their membership.

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