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Coaching SuperVISION: A Reflective Practice

Posted by Sukh Mishraa, PCC | April 6, 2018 | Comments (13)

When I signed up for coaching supervision over two year ago, it was to conform to the engagement requirements of a coaching organization. At the time, I was not appreciative of this term in their contract that required all coaches to have regular supervision as part of their continuing professional development (CPD).

After the first few sessions, I started to experience a clearer head and lighter heart during professional engagements, especially in my coaching sessions. In supervision, I got to reflect on my coaching work, address my assumptions/intrusions and start to witness a higher self-awareness of my thought patterns. Being supervised by a trained supervisor helped keep me true to the coaching profession by allowing me to reflect on my clients, my relationship with them and how I was showing up as a coach. Since then, I’ve used coaching supervision on a regular basis and am currently enrolled in a coaching supervision certification program.

The topic of coaching supervision is often met with a bit of skepticism since it’s not well known and is not explored by all coach training programs. Thus, coaches are unaware and uninformed and may even have a negative reaction to the word “supervision,” especially if they are in the corporate world.

Clarifying Coaching superVISION

Coaching superVISION is the practice where coaches get to reflect on their coaching work. It is an interaction between a trained supervisor and a coach for the purpose of the coach to expand their “vision” in order to observe their work and explore the potential for blind spots and/or unconscious bias. Unlike coaching sessions, where the focus is the client and their frame of reference, coaching supervision it’s the expanded view of inter-related elements which have a bearing on coach’s work.

Many coaches reflect on their coaching sessions, but the practice of reflection with a partner can help us see what we cannot see. A coach supervisor is trained to support coaches in illuminating the corners and rooms that we are not paying attention to.

What makes supervision powerful is the multitude of tools available for this expanded view such as the supervisor, the relationship between the coach and the supervisor, the relationship between the coach and the client; the coach themselves, and the broader system that all are part of. It empowers the coach to consider the following:

On the Coach’s Side

  • How is the coach showing up during coaching work? Is the coach overprotective, too caring, acting as a savior,  playing the a victim or being an advisor?
  • Who is the coach “being” with the client?
  • What is being triggered within the coach while interacting with the client? How’s that impacting the coach’s presence? Is there a potential of transference or countertransference?
  • What relationship dynamics exist between the coach and the client? How do these dynamics play out in coaching sessions?
  • What is the coach picking up from the client? Consider what the subtle and even unaware
  • What is the coach carrying that actually belongs to the client? Think about feelings, thought patterns and behaviors
  • How is the coach’s view/perspective—present or interfering with the coaching work? Is the coach leading or directing the conversation or projecting their own stuff?
  • What role is the coach performing that need to be given to the client?

On the Supervisor’s Side

  • What’s being triggered in the supervisor, and what’s the potential parallel in the coach-client and the coach-supervisor relationship? What information can be useful?
  • What intuitive guidance is available to the supervisor that when shared with the coach, could be useful?
  • What is the supervisor observing in the coach that actually belongs to the client?
  • What is the supervisor observing as a blind spot for the coach? For example, a blind spot could be the coach’s closeness to a sponsor of the coaching work, the client’s closeness with the coach, the client’s closeness with the sponsor, or a power position that the coach holds

Coaching supervision contributes towards enhancing the capacity of the coach to work with a greater range of challenges, at greater depth and with increased impact. It serves all stakeholders, including the current clients and their stakeholders/sponsors (the companies these clients work for) as well as the coach and the coach’s future clients. A well-resourced coach is likely to add far more coaching value as compared to the one without it.

To realize the passion of helping others realize their dream, a coach’s journey generally commences by joining a coach training program, followed by practicing the coaching models and tools to build greater confidence before starting to coach clients. From then on, it can be an isolated journey, especially with our commitment to confidentiality. It may feel like you have to figure your challenges out by yourself, but that’s not true.

Regular coaching supervision is a required practice by European and Australian coaching bodies, while the largest coaching body, International Coach Federation (ICF) recognizes it as part of a coach’s CPD and has recently announced that up to 10 hours of coaching supervision (delivering and/or receiving) will be counted toward Continuing Coach Education requirements.

This is a welcomed change that encourages coaches to reflect on their craft with a supervisor in order to expand their view of their coaching work. Coaching supervision empowers you to  transform your practice and expand your awareness of how you’re showing up as a coach. It also creates benefits for all coaching stakeholders.

sukh mishra headshot

Sukh Mishraa, PCC

Sukh Mishraa, PCC, transitioned into professional coaching in 2012 after having held leadership positions with Citibank NA and NIIT. She believes “Leadership development is incomplete without Leadership Coaching” and supports organizations in their initiatives toward deepening and expanding the leadership pipeline. She’s an ICF Registered Mentor Coach, a founding director of the online coach training company PEER Coaching India, and a Certified Coach Supervisor.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (13)

  1. VS Kumar says:

    Thank you for sharing in detail. All of us surely benefit by having a feedback through super Vision..

    VS Kumar

    • says:

      Mr. Kumar, I’ve benefitted big time with supervision.

      In coaching, It’s like, “we can’t see what we can’t see,” and supervision can light up those corners.


  2. Thank you, Sukh. I chose Coaching Supervision training as I entered my twentieth year of the profession as I heard from trusted, experienced colleagues like you how it was taking their coaching to an even greater depth. Because I work globally I was also aware Coaching Supervision is a requirement in some organizations and countries and want to stay head of the trend.

    • says:

      Marilyn, interestingly enough, what was once a discomfort (requirement of supervision) became an opportunity for me to learn and grow. Pretty much how it pans out for our clients,


  3. Elizabeth Okada says:

    Nice article Sukh. Having just completed by training as a Coach Supervisor and been receiving supervision for a number of years, it’s wonderful to see that there is a developing awareness of the benefits of supervision around the global coaching community.

    • says:

      Elizabeth Hi,

      Read your comment today.
      Missed you as a partner in the ICF chapter group supervision program.

      Should chat up,


  4. A well written piece explaining why many of us have chosen to become Coach SUPERvisors and engage them to support our ongoing professional development. I still believe that the name does not accurately reflect the roles and value of the relationship and interactions between coach supervisor and coach.

    • says:

      Edy Hi,
      You are so right.

      The name can dissuade many to even try supervision.
      But I promise, that once any coach experiences it , the name simply doesn’t matter.


  5. says:

    Dear Sukh,
    Thank you for writing about this important issue! It is true that already many organizations require that coaches working for them are having coaching supervision. I am, for example accredited to work for the European Union institutions as an executive coach, and supervision is given to their internal coaches as well as a requirement for the external ones.
    As I am working as a mentor coach, coach trainer and executive coach, I have now enrolled on a university program for coaching supervision (Oxford Brookes) in order to have a deeper understanding and evidence-based tools for coaching supervision. As ICF coaches we need to take coaching supervision to a better level – it is part of our professional credibility!
    Kind Greetings,

    Raija Salomaa, PCC, PhD

    • says:

      Raija Hi,

      For all of us who are so committed to coaching, Supervision becomes naturally the next step.

      And we end up discovering so much more,


  6. says:

    Thanks for this Sukh – extremely insightful piece for somebody like me who has just got her ACC credential and is looking for a supervisor. It is however not very straightforward to find a list of supervisors through the coach finder. Any tips of how best to look for a supervisor?

    • says:

      Riddhima hi,

      Would you like to chat up sometime?
      You may email me and we’ll connect


  7. Sam Magill says:

    Thanks so very much for this well articulated description of Coaching Supervision. I have been proving supervision since my training with the Coaching Supervision Academy in 2009-2010. I now teach the year long training in supervision in North America and am recruiting our fifth cohort here. CSA has been offering training in the UK for 13 years.

    My own, more metaphoric description of supervision is this: Supervision: the act of waking up to what happens in practice – Sam Magill
    ‘As coaches, we are regularly immersed in the world of our clients. We are called to be fully present and connected in such profound ways that we can evoke questions in ourselves and in our clients that have only crouched beneath the surface activities of our lives.
    Whether we are new to coaching or have been at it for a very long time, it is utterly natural to, in a sense, fall asleep to the effects of these connections, to the intentional practice of being present. In the process, we become less aware of our own practice and, while acting instinctively is very often a good thing, over time we develop unconscious patterns that may or may not be right for our current client.
    Supervision of coaching is like climbing up in a tall tree, or standing on a hilltop looking out over the sea and the landscape around us. It is also like polishing a mirror that has become fogged with activity. It is also like revisiting our truest self from which our best coaching emerges.
    Unlike coaching for performance or to build a new strategy or life, coaching supervision has no intention to go anywhere. On the contrary, it is about the coach coming home and turning on the lights again rather than bumping around in the dark. It is a balancing antidote to the very legitimate demand for concrete results expected by coaching clients.’
    Sam Magill, January 2011

    Thank you again, Sukh.
    Sam Magill

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