How to Choose a Supervisor

Seek out a supervisor who is qualified and competent to remain objective in relation to you and the elements of the system you bring to supervision. Your supervisor does not take a position of oversight, but rather one of supportive and challenging objectivity. They challenge and explore the emerging ‘unknown’. Your coach supervisor is open and responsive to their experiences of you, your system, and their own stuff which becomes entangled therein.

Consider your level of commitment to your own professional growth and development. Take stock of your coaching journey and your intention for being a coach practitioner. The coaching philosophy indicates that your professional journey is your responsibility and ultimately you drive the agenda of your overall development, and what you bring to each supervision session. A coach’s professional journey entails a continuous reframing of traditional, externally driven, professional development criteria, to an internal self- directed adult learning ethos. As part of this journey, it is each coach’s responsibility to choose whom to seek for professional development support and whom to choose for professional accountability.

The supervision modality is distinct from coaching. The supervisor’s professional expertise includes psychological understanding, self-awareness, an ability to work with complex and nuanced systems, a deep understanding of interpersonal dynamics in professional learning contexts, and how change takes place through relationship.

There are several factors to consider when choosing a supervisor

Consider who the supervisor is

  • You may be interested in their background, and their experience in the domain of learning, inter-personal relationships.

  • What are their supervision qualifications?

  • How do they conduct themselves as a coach and coach supervisor?

What investment do they make in their own on-going personal and professional development?

  • Are they in supervision themselves?

  • What other personal development work do they do?

All Social Impact Supervision supervisors:

  • are trained specifically in coach supervision

  • are committed to their own personal and professional development through supervision

Chemistry and Professional Resonance

As with choosing a coach, the relationship is key and it is the greatest determinant of successful supervision. You want to feel comfortable, safe, supported and at the same time compassionately challenged in order to continue to learn and grow as a coach and in your practice. Notwithstanding, when unexpected relational phenomena arise in the supervision relationship, these may afford both parties an opportunity to learn more about themselves, about each other and about relating with others.

Other factors for you to consider, and questions you can ask yourself and your supervisor

What are you looking for in supervision and from a supervisor? As everyone has blind spots, the experience of supervision will deepen one’s awareness in unexpected ways.

At what stage of development are you as a coach? This includes hours of training and experience with clients, but particularly in the supervision context the coach’s understanding of themselves, relational phenomena, and ethical considerations are more pertinent. Where are you in your development from ‘doing’ to ‘being’ and how will your supervisor work with you in this regard? Is the supervisor aware of different needs at different stages of coach development? Can they articulate how they work with coaches at different levels?

In what context are you seeking supervision? Are you seeking Practice Analysis (the focus here is more on client cases) or Supervision (the whole of you in your practice, including practice analysis) … be explicit about what you are looking for. As Social Impact Supervision is aligned with the functions of the Supervision Triangle, our supervisors will work with you in a Supervision modality (which is inclusive of Practice Analysis).

How do you learn best? Is there a match, or can your supervisor adapt to your needs, whilst simultaneously supporting you in your developmental directions?

Are there any boundary issues /multiple relationships? What other personal or professional relationships do you have with this supervisor? Are there any potential conflicts with others in the group?

In Summary

As with choosing a coach, your development journey will most likely entail an experience of working with several different supervisors. One who is supportive with any situation, one where you can see clear evidence of your growth as a practitioner and a supervisor who will challenge you to navigate the norms of the profession in a personally congruent way. Supervision is a bottom-up choice – you make the choice to seek supervision and you choose who the best supervisor is for yourself at this point in your professional journey.

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