The Evolution of Coaching Super-Vision
We recently published an article entitled “The Evolution of Coaching Super-Vision” written by Damian Goldvarg, MCC, ESIA
As professional coaching has continued to grow in popularity worldwide, coaching supervision has gained a significant role and acceptance in the last few years.
The development of coaching supervision started in Europe (UK, France), and for more than 10 years, the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) has included the practice of supervision as an ethical responsibility and as a requirement to renew coaching credentials. The requirements consist of receiving at least one session quarterly or after every 32 sessions. EMCC offers accreditations to supervision programs (ESQA) and Supervision Accreditations, ESIA (European Supervision Individual Accreditation). (For more information go to emccglobal.org/accreditation/esia)
Since 2018, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) has recognized supervision as a valued practice and allowed coaches who need to renew their credentials to count up to 10 hours
of supervision as Continuing Coach Education Units (CCEUs). The ICF position on coaching supervision states:
“ICF supports coaching supervision for professional coach practitioners as part of their portfolio of continuing professional development (CPD) activities designed to keep them fit for purpose.
“Coaching supervision is sufficiently different from coaching, so training to provide the knowledge and opportunity to practice Coaching Supervision skills is needed. As such, all coaching
supervisors should receive coaching supervision training.”
The ICF research team developed three papers on the state of coaching supervision in 2017, 2018 and 2019. (These papers are available on the website: coachingfederation.org/research/academic-research)
In 2022, the ICF required all team coaches applying for a credential in the pilot program to have received at least 10 hours of team coaching supervision to be eligible to apply for it. ICF decided to lower the requirement to five hours starting with the Team Coaching Credentials in 2023.
One of the challenges in the understanding and development of coaching supervision is that the word “supervision” may have a negative connotation associated with management, guidance
or quality control. I prefer to separate the word in two – super-vision – to emphasize the nature of the reflective practice focused on offering a space to learn about our work for new coaches as
well as for very experienced coaches. It offers the opportunity to explore blind spots, challenges, dilemmas, emotions, and develop new awareness about how “the personal may intrude into the
professional.” (EMCC, 2015)
I will continue to use “supervision” when discussing or quoting specific bodies or authors, as that is their usage, but my personal observations will use my preferred spelling of “super-vision.”
DEFINITIONS OF COACHING SUPER-VISION
The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) defines coaching supervision 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.”
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.” (ICF, 2018)
Based on my experience training coaching super-visors for the last seven years, I developed and adopted this definition: “the collaborative reflective process to enhance the work of the supervisee for the benefit of all stakeholders.” In this definition, I like to emphasize:
• the collaborative nature of the supervisory relationship;
• the reflective characteristic of the activity;
• all stakeholders who benefit from the activity.
Coaching super-vision serves three functions, which have been broadly accepted by professional bodies:
1 – The Developmental Function – Focus on development of skills, understanding, and capacities of the coach/mentor.
2 – The Resourcing Function – Providing a supportive space for the coach to process the experiences they have had when working with their clients. A space to explore emotions and recharge batteries.
3 – The Normative Function – Concerned with quality, work standards, ethical dilemmas, and integrity. (Hawkins & Smith, 2006)
The EMCC has developed a coaching supervision competency model that provides guidance to the practitioners. It is the foundation for accrediting supervision programs as well as practitioners.
Follow the three functions of the supervisor explained above and the systemic perspective presented by the Seven Eyed Model from Hawkins and Shohet.
These are the eight EMCC Supervision competencies:
1 – Manages the Supervision Contract and Process – Establishes and maintains a working contract with the supervisee (and relevant stakeholders)
2 – Facilitates Development – Enables the supervisee to improve the standard of their practice through a process of facilitated reflection.
3 – Provides Support – Provides a supportive space for the supervisee to process the experiences they have with clients and to prioritize their wellbeing as a coach.
4 – Promotes Professional Standards – Supports high standards relating to professional, ethical and reflective practice.
5 – Self-Awareness – Consciously uses and develops the ‘self’ in service of the supervision relationship and process.
6 – Relationship Awareness – Understands and works with the layers of relationship that exist in the supervision process.
7 – Systemic Awareness – Is able to recognize and work with the dynamics of human systems.
8- Facilitates Group Supervision – Skillfully handles supervision group dynamics.
SUPER-VISION AND MENTOR COACHING
It is important to distinguish that for the ICF, mentor coaching and supervision are two different activities. Mentor coaching focuses on providing feedback on coaching skills. The
mentor coach needs to observe the coach demonstrating the skills and provide feedback based on the level of the coach (associate, professional, or master). Mentor coaching is a
mandatory activity during coaching training, to renew ACC credentials, and to apply for the MCC credential. Mentor coaches need to be trained to be able to identify specific behaviors
expected for each competency and provide feedback in a respectful, supportive, and effective manner.
Super-vision does not focus on coaching skills, but rather on the coach’s capacity and reflecting on the work done. The exploration on the “being of the coach,” challenges, taking some distance
and looking at the work done.
In 2022, Routledge published Coaching Supervision: Voices from the Americas, written by the pioneers of coaching supervision in the Americas. Francine Campone, Joel DeGirolamo, Lily Seto
and I edited the book with contributions from 30 supervisors from Canada, USA, Mexico, Argentina, and guests from the UK and France. Some of the topics include: culturally sensitive coaching
supervision, a study of perceptions and practices in the Americas, resistance to coaching supervision, resourcing, restoring and responding through coaching supervision, group coaching supervision, working with virtual technology, and internal supervision.
As coaching keeps developing to meet the needs of clients worldwide, super-vision is becoming a practice not only appreciated by coaches, but also by clients. There is a trend for global
companies to request super-vision for the coaches as part of the contracts. This may provide a competitive edge to companies that understand its value and are willing to invest in super-vision for
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