What is Coaching Super-Vision?

As coaching has continued to grow in popularity, coaching practice, and what’s considered
good practice, has also been evolving, all be it at different rates in different continents.
Coaching supervision is one example, and we believe it has a significant role to play as the
profession of coaching continues to mature. Coaching supervision, or as we prefer to describe
it, ‘super-vision,’ can provide a reflective space for coach practitioners to reflect and learn
from their own practice. For coaches in training as well than for very experienced ones, it offers
the opportunity for the coach to explore issues, think through dilemmas, manage emotions and
personal barriers, and engage in meta-learning, drawing from individual cases and critical
sessions.

Coaching supervision is often misinterpreted as a ‘quality evaluative practice,’ a ‘management
role,’ or an ‘overseeing’ of task, reflecting its title of ‘supervision’ rather than as a collaborative
developmental opportunity, which offers value to all coaches, from novices to the most
experienced through a process which is about reflecting and looking in more detail; super-
vision. It thus serves the same role and is an alternative to Mentor coaching, used by some
professional bodies such as the ICF to support new coaches in develop their coaching skills.
Super-vision offers the possibility of having a ‘vision’ from a distance, accessing different
views as a result of that distance and in effect providing space for an overview or helicopter
perspective of the work taking place in the coaching dyad.

Definitions of coaching super-vision
The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) defines coaching super-vision as
the interaction that occurs when a mentor or coach bring their coaching or mentoring work
experiences to a supervisor in order to be supported and to engage in reflective dialogue and
collaborative learning for the development and benefit of the mentor or coach, their clients and
their organizations.

It has been suggested that supervision in general serves three functions, which have been
broadly accept by professional bodies:

1 The Developmental Function
Concerned with development of skills, understanding, and capacities of the coach/mentor.
2 The Resourcing Function
Providing a supportive space for the coach/mentor to process the experiences they have had
when working with clients.
3 The Normative Function
Concerned with quality, work standards, and ethical integrity

“The ICF holds a similar view: “Coaching Supervision is a collaborative learning practice to
continually build the capacity of the coach through reflective dialogue and benefit to his or her
clients and the overall system”. I like to define super-vision as “the collaborative
reflective process to enhance the work of supervisee for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

In reviewing the wider literature and diversity of definitions, De Filippo (2016) noted,
“While these definitions are distinct, they agree that coach super-vision is
1) a formal process;
2) is interpersonal and can be undertaken one-to-one, in groups or in peer groups;
3) involves
reflection on client work and
4) has goals that include developing greater coaching competence.

Five of the main coaching associations (EMCC, AC, APECS, SGCP, and WABC) include coaching
super-vision as a requirement for coaches seeking accreditation. The European Mentoring and
Coaching Council recommends that coaches get one hour of coaching super-vision for every 35
hours of practice with a minimum of four hours per year. In comparison, the International
Coach Federation (ICF) recognizes coaching supervision as one of the activities appropriate for
continuing professional development and suggests that coaches obtain appropriate coaching
supervision training in order to fully provide the service.

It is worth noting at this stage that the concept of coaching super-vision emerged from the use of supervision in counseling and other clinical settings. In both the UK and Europe, it has been
brought into coaching by individuals working in these domains, who found the practice useful
and adapted traditional supervision approaches for their coaching work. The growth of
coaching super-vision is thus practice led, as is much of coaching, with individuals finding it
useful and continuing to use it as part of their practice.

About Damian Goldvarg 1 Article
Dr. Damian Goldvarg has thirty years of experience providing executive coaching, leadership training, and facilitation in over fifty countries. He is a Master Certified Coach and received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from Alliant University. He is an Accredited Coach Supervisor (ESIA) and Accredited Team Coach (ACTC) and facilitates certifications in Professional Coaching, Team Coaching, and Coaching Supervision in English and Spanish. He was the 2013-2014 International Coach Federation Global President. Damian published eight books on Coaching related topics and several book chapters. He was the recipient of the 2018 ICF Circle of Distinction Award for his contribution to the coaching profession worldwide.

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