Karen Dean and Sam Humphrey state the case for coaching supervision including how a coach utilises self-care

Supervision has been a practice in many sectors for a long time. In law, accountancy, teaching, social work and psychology, supervision plays an important part in the training and development of the individual practitioner. Coaching supervision is seen by nearly all professional coaching bodies as an essential part of a professional coach’s practice. Whilst there are a range of views on the place and purpose of coaching supervision, Kadushin (1992), Hawkins (2006) and Proctor (1988) developed models to describe the function of supervision. The key features of these models are:

A forming aspect – As a coach, you are continuously growing and developing so this aspect can allow you to focus on how you can get better and explore what is changing in the coaching sector that is relevant to you and your work.

A normalising aspect – Coaching can be a lonely business so having an opportunity to normalise your experiences in relation to other coaches can be invaluable.

A restorative aspect – Coaching can be challenging work so this aspect can give you an opportunity to re-energise and resource yourself.

A qualitative aspect – Managing boundaries and working safely serves both the needs of the client and the coach. This aspect affords an opportunity for you to reflect on how you are working and explore in-depth, the work you are doing.

A coaching conversation

You know how it is, you deliver a coaching conversation and sometimes it works brilliantly. At other times it falls short, and you’re left with a feeling of unease or even deep discomfort. Where do you go to actively reflect and understand what just happened?

In our book, Coaching Stories: Flowing and Falling of Being a Coach, all four of these aspects are highlighted in our stories. We reference where supervision supported us both in those times when we were falling and not doing our best coaching. We highlight the good times when we could explore our successes and realise how we were bringing our best coaching selves to the work. We also offer a chapter explaining established psychological ‘Themes and Theories’. This supports the coach to gain insights about what transpired with their client.

As qualified supervisors, we pay attention to three key aspects when working with a coach. Cochrane and Newton (2018), introduced the ‘Supervision Triangle’ and explained its purpose and relevance.

The coach’s professional management of their coaching including the contract, ethics, process, influence of sponsors and line managers, accounting for the relevant cultures and systems.

The coach’s development as a practitioner, their conscious awareness, understanding, learning and growth.

The coach as a person, offering support, care and acknowledgement in their coaching context and wider life.

We know that such formal arrangements are not always available to coaches delivering to colleagues in an organisation. We believe it is important for us all to be aware of the needs and considerations arising from coaching, including how to care for ourselves.

Knowledge and experience

A valuable resource for a coach to access knowledge and experience online, whenever needed, is the powerful innovation me:my™coach. Karen Dean MCC is the originator of this digital learning experience.

me:my™coach is the highly intelligent framework where a coach will:

  • Self-monitor.
  • Reflect.
  • Be provoked with powerful coach supervision questions.
  • Gain fresh insights.
  • Have more impact with their client next time.

The coach can track improvement, as they implement their plan, in future interactions. Self-supervision is at this tool’s heart and is sourced at www.memycoach.com.

International Coach Federation (ICF) has identified key benefits for coaches [International Coaching Psychology Review, (Volume 12, No. 1, March 2017)] who receive Coaching Supervision. These benefits include:

  • Increased self-awareness.
  • Greater confidence.
  • Increased objectivity.
  • A heightened sense of belonging.
  • Reduced feelings of isolation.
  • Increased resourcefulness.

We trust that we have raised the awareness of supervision and its role. We believe that a coach is the instrument of their coaching. Welfare and self-care are paramount.


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  1. Hi Karen and Sam, thanks for this concise exploration of coaching supervision. I had not come across Cochrane and Newton’s book so thanks for signposting that. I have often found a useful way to describe the formative, normative and restorative functions as being “person as coach”, “coach as a professional” and “coach as person”. Whichever way you play with it, these three functions are vital to the effectiveness and wellbeing of the coach and it’s great to see this being discussed ever more widely. Thanks for sharing.


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