If you were to ask coaches how they found their way to coaching, many of them will tell you that their decision to coach came as a result of being coached themselves. This is testament to just how beneficial and powerful creating a space for dialogic reflection can be.
Yet so many coaches don’t continue to reap the benefits of being coached, or supervised, post-qualification. I am a big advocate of practising what you preach: I am a coach therefore I am going to have a coach myself. A sort of positive spin on the old adage of having a ‘taste of your own medicine’.
At times, I feel that the invaluable benefits of supervision can be overlooked. Due to the fact that it’s a requirement of the Diploma, some people perhaps approach it with the mindset that it’s an obligation, or perhaps even a chore that they need to do in order to complete their training. In reality, the value that supervision can bring to you and your practice is untold.
In my recent article Food for Thought: Reflections on a Symposium with Robin Shohet I talk about how important questions and reflections are in helping you to realise answers that weren’t apparent before. Supervision very much in tune with this. It’s centred around the coach’s own practice, looking at what’s working, what can be improved, and perhaps what isn’t quite working. Yet more than that, it’s recognising that that space really allows you to have things come up that you didn’t necessarily think about before, empowering you to effect positive change within your practice.
An example? But of course.
Let’s say I have a client that is repeatedly not showing up, or cancelling last minute (a frustration I’m sure we have all experienced at least once), the feelings that this issue brings forth, whether anger, disappointment, or irritation are aspects that I could explore in supervision. It provides the appropriate space to delve deeper into the ‘whys’ and work towards a solution. This might start with a self realisation of “actually I’m holding on to this client” or “I need to let go of this client”, before moving into a solution; so perhaps at this point I might want to add something into my coaching agreement to prevent it happening again.
In another instance a coach might find themselves part of a session in which the client brings a topic that they feel triggered by. What I mean here by ‘triggered’ is something that the client shares that resonates or affects the coach in some sort of way. Perhaps they have been through a similar situation to the one that their client describes. This could bring something up for the coach, a feeling of sympathy maybe.
As a result, they might adapt to a viewpoint of “my poor client”, being very sympathetic, which isn’t necessarily going to be very useful to the coaching relationship. Again this is something that could be brought to supervision. It’s about having that space where you can explore what is happening in your practice or with your client.
Supervision can be very flexible in terms of how often you have it. Even if it’s not a session a month, then it could be every two months. It is about looking at what would work for you based on how many clients you have, and how often you feel you want supervision. I’ve seen a number of instances where someone doesn’t have a supervisor, and one day they hit a particular challenge and aren’t sure how to press on with that challenge. Because they don’t have a supervisor yet, they don’t know who to reach out for and the challenging aspect stops them in their tracks.
Ultimately, it is about recognising the value of supervision, and at least having it ready, should you need it. How useful it is to have someone already in your contact list, that you know that you can reach out to if there is anything that you want to explore at any given point.
And what about those coaches that don’t have any frustrations? Surely they don’t need supervision right? Here’s the thing: There is always something to be gained.
Have that awareness. Even if you think everything is going as good as it can be, and you don’t have any clear challenges, or you think you don’t have anything you feel that you need to bring to a supervisor, it really is beneficial. You’re going to get something out of that dialogue with your supervisor, whether that be in terms of the practical aspect of your business, or in your coaching sessions with your clients.
I really think that we often don’t give enough credit to reflecting on our coaching. Wouldn’t it be great for us all to be more curious about our practice? To vocalise and discuss unsaid thoughts that would otherwise linger only in our minds, and reflect upon them, would bring forth ideas, questions and answers that we may never have considered. In any case, there are always some tweaks that can be done. I don’t believe in perfection, I feel that there is always room for reflection and improvement, and supervision is a great way to facilitate these things.
Let’s take a moment to consider the thinking behind Animas. We are a coaching school that truly believes in, and embraces the power of dialogue as an important part to any approach to a solution. Supervision is merely an opportunity to continue creating space to talk, and move things forward in a dialogic manner. So in having a supervisor, in a way you’re just staying in tune with what Animas is about: Person-centred dialogue as a means for change.
One of my beliefs is that every coach should have a supervisor. Self-reflection following a session can be great, but as coaches we should recognise the power of having someone in front of us to ask us questions, and evoke reflections.
Whether you are facing big challenges or feel that your practice is going exceptionally well, any conversation is powerful because it allows you to reflect. The supervisory dynamic provides the space to keep growing as coaches through questioning, exploration and a sense of self-curiosity. |