Coaching and professional supervision with Marion Gillie: frequently asked questions
- What is ‘supervision’?
- Do you only supervise Executive Coaches?
- What is the difference between coaching and supervision?
- Who needs a supervisor?
- How do I choose a supervisor?
- Is supervision more than just a place to reflect?
- What sort of things will we cover?
- How often will I need supervision?
- What level of coach do you supervise?
- What is Gestalt supervision?
- I see you are an APECS accredited coach supervisor. What does that mean?
- How much does it cost?
- Do you have a code of ethics?
What is ‘supervision’?
When I go to my own supervisor, I like to think of the session as ‘super –vision' i.e. the notion of taking a look at my work from above, from difference perspectives. It is somewhere that I can talk about my work as a coach with someone who can help me to develop my effectiveness as a coach, will help me attend to the ethics of my coaching practice and how to handle complex boundary issues; it also enables me to deepen my self–awareness and strengthen my skills as a coach, and helps me to handle challenging coaching situations. [back to top]
Do you only supervise Executive Coaches?
No. In my practice, as well as coaches, I also supervise internal and external consultants who specialise in Organisation and Management Development. I think of this as Professional Supervision. [back to top]
What is the difference between coaching and supervision?
In coaching, the role of coach is to work with the coachee to reach their own conclusions and solutions, and generally speaking, the coach holds back from providing expert advice. Similarly, in supervision, I see my role as supervisor predominantly as raising awareness in the supervisee in the ultimate service of the coachee and their organisation. Like Proust, I believe that “we do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves” and hence my approach is predominantly a coaching style and the sessions offer the supervisee the opportunity to further develop the art of learning ‘skilful enquiry’ – to enquire about what’s going on in their coaching practice and learning to make a different kind of sense of their experiences through reflection on their coaching session. Where supervision and coaching differ, however, lies in the notion of supervisor as overseer of ethical standards and professional competence. If I hear something that I believe might be unethical or unprofessional, I see it as my responsibility to put my concerns on the table for open discussion. Similarly, working with coaches who are relatively new to coaching, I am happy to step into the role of ‘educator’. [back to top]
Who needs a supervisor?
Anyone who takes their professional practice seriously, and wants to engage in an active process of continuous professional development. In addition, professional coaching bodies such as APECS, the ICF, the AC, the EMCC and CIPD are now either insisting or advocating strongly that members receive regular supervision of their coaching practice.
For leaders, supervision gives you the opportunity to reflect on your practice with an experienced ‘sounding board’ and talk through tricky issues will help both you and your ‘followers’. [back to top]
How do I choose a supervisor?
When I chose my supervisor, I wanted to work with someone who was similar enough that he/she would understand the world in which I work, and who was different enough to bring something new to my work. The criteria that I held in mind were these: someone who had significant experience that I could learn from, someone who would both affirm my competence and help me look at my blind spots, someone with both experience of working as a coach in the kind of organisations that I work in, yet had deep insight into the complexities of human psychology. [back to top]
Is supervision more than just a place to reflect?
A lot has been written about the 'reflective space', i.e. a place where someone can open up and think aloud about themselves, their work and what matters to them. Supervision certainly provides this. The supervisor needs to be someone who recognises how important it is for the coach/consultant to talk about anything that is impacting on their work, no matter how challenging it is to be open about. For example, I recently supervised a coach who was experiencing sexual advances from a client, and needed to explore how to handle this. Topics like this are often experienced as ‘taboo’ and people can feel at best embarrassed and at worst feel shame in raising such issues, so supervision needs to be a place where the person feels safe and unjudged. So, is ‘that all’ supervision is? No, but as a foundation, this non–judgemental ‘safe space’ is crucial. Without it other aspects of supervision, such as the sharing of experience, sometimes challenging and sometimes teaching will not be accepted and utilised. If that trust is absent, whatever else one offers as a supervisor is likely to be rejected. [back to top]
What sort of things will we cover?
I like to encourage my supervisees to explore their work from many different perspectives, including:
- The coach's own interventions: how they are working with their clients and how they can expand their flexibility and skill set;
- Their relationship with their clients: what's working, what their blind spots are, what patterns are emerging in the work that they may not be aware of;
- The wider context of the coaching work: how they are managing the interface between the coaching contract with the coachee and the sponsoring organisation;
I also pay attention to patterns that arise between me and my supervisees, as this can often mirror what is happening between them and the person they are coaching. [back to top]
How often will I need supervision?
It really depends on how many people you are coaching and what other personal development you are involved in. For example if you have a large number of coachees and supervision is your main source of support and development, then you would probably benefit from more frequent sessions, say, monthly. Typically I see (or have a telephone session with) my supervisees for an hour or an hour and a half every four to six weeks. [back to top]
What level of coach do you supervise?
The needs of new coaches tend to be different from those of experienced coaches. Although my supervisees tend to be more experienced, I do work with newer coachees, particularly if they are prepared to audio record their actual client work, and use the audio to explore how they can expand their range of perspectives and skills. Whatever your experience, I am more than happy to have an initial, no obligation conversation to help you to decide if we could usefully work together. [back to top]
What is Gestalt supervision?
Gestalt is concerned with raising awareness of how we engage with those around us in meeting (or not) our needs and live satisfactory lives (or not). By focusing on the ‘here and now’ interactions between the supervisor and supervisee, the supervisee can learn how he or she builds good coaching alliances, or how they block this process. Gestalt also uses ‘active experimentation’ to raise awareness, e.g. by inviting the supervisee to ‘speak as’ their client, they can gain insight into the client’s world; by inviting the supervisee to ‘speak to’ the client (on an empty chair) the supervisee can gain insight into what they might be holding back from saying aloud; by drawing the various stakeholders in the client’s situation and representing them in the form of a ‘sculpture’ the supervisee can get a better perspective on the wider system. All of this can make Gestalt supervision very creative, and lead to a number of insights that may not have been reached using other forms of supervision. [back to top]
I see you are an APECS accredited coach supervisor. What does that mean?
Whilst there are a number of professional bodies that now accredit executive coaches, very few accredit coach supervisors. In the UK, the most significant of these is probably the Association for Professional Executive Coaches and Coach Supervisors (APECS). To become an APECS Accredited Supervisor, the person needs to have significant experience as an executive coach, needs to be able to articulate their approach to supervision (what influences that approach, what it 'looks like' in practice, what benefits to the supervisee are sought etc.). In addition, APECS expects their accredited supervisors to have engaged in a high level of both personal and professional development. Thus if you are supervised by an APECS accredited supervisor, you know that you will be getting a well qualified person in terms of coaching qualification and amount of experience. I would encourage you to visit the APECS web site to get a clearer idea about the standards this organisation sets. [back to top]
How much does it cost?
Different supervisors have different structures for charging. I believe that we should take our supervision as seriously as we expect our coachees to take their coaching, so I charge my supervisees a similar rate to the one at which they charge themselves out as coaches. For people employed in an organisational setting, I normally suggest a fee commensurate with the level of responsibility the person holds in that organisation. Of course, whether we choose to work together, and at what rate is always by mutual agreement. [back to top]
Do you have a code of ethics?
Yes. As an APECS accredited Coach Supervisor, I subscribe to their Code of Ethics, which strives for the safest and most effective conditions for clients (those being supervised), the clearest and most transparent understanding with host companies who commission Coaching Supervision and the highest professional standards for their coaches and supervisors. [back to top]