By Nadia Peeters
Peter Hawkins´ Seven Eyed Supervision Model

Peter Hawkins´ Seven Eyed Supervision Model

In the past weeks I have started two new Supervision Groups, a collaborative space of support, self-discovery and professional development for coaches, which is gaining more and more presence in Spain.

The work consists in reflecting together on various topics of our coaching practice. This time of pandemic is showing us the importance of taking care of ourselves and seeking support. Especially if we are dedicated to accompanying others, it is an aspect of our professional life that we should not neglect.

The coaching supervision methodology offers many techniques and models to guide a coach´s reflection, and one of the most important ones is the Seven Eyed Model of Coaching Supervision. It was originally created in 1985 by Peter Hawkins for supervising psychotherapists, and then further developed with Robin Shohet for other helping professions. Hawkins, a thinker and expert in leadership and organizational change, subsequently adapted the model together with other colleagues from the Bath Consultancy Group to be applied in the context of coaching, mentoring, team coaching and organizational consultancy (1995). It is currently taught internationally in all trainings for coaching supervisors.

It is a relational and systemic model: in it's relational aspect, it explores the relationships between coach, client and supervisor, observing how these influence each other and how all elements behave in relation to each other, i.e. the systemic part of the model. This also makes it an interesting model to apply in coaching, with clients who want to explore relational topics.

The 7 eyes

The supervised coach articulates their Supervision Question, for example ""I want to understand how to unblock the process with a client who is not making the expected progress.", and the model proposes seven different perspectives ("eyes" or "modes") from which to look at the case and generate new awareness in the coach.

Eye 1: The Client

This first mode discusses data about the client, his or her company or environment, agreed coaching objectives, frequency of sessions etc, and also details about how the client presents him or herself to the coach: the first impression, the way they sit, posture or way of speaking. It's about describing the observable without falling into the tendency to interpret what we are seeing and make up a story.

Eye 2: The Coach´s Interventions

The second eye explores the different interventions the coach has tried with the client. It is interesting to look for example if you choose one type of intervention more often than others or what you have decided not to do. The reflection seeks to generate new ideas to apply in the next session with the client.

Eye 3: The relationship between coach and client

I find the third eye fascinating. Here we look at the relationship that exists between the coach and the client, to reveal dynamics or patterns that are operating and of which the coach is not aware. In this eye it is very common to use metaphors, which communicate very well the most hidden information.

Eye 4: The Coach

Eye 4 focuses on how the coach is experiencing the coaching process. What sensations, emotions, reactions or memories it arouses. Sometimes interaction with a client can stimulate coach responses related to their own life, and understanding that can prevent them from being projected on the coachee. This mode also covers the coach's needs for his or her well-being and professional development.

Eye 5: The Parallel Process

The fifth mode invites us to see if there is any parallel between what is going on in the meeting between the supervisor and the supervised coach, that is, during the supervision session, and the coaching relationship that coach has with his client. For example, a coach might be unconsciously treating his or her supervisor, just as his or her coachee is treating him or her. The supervisor's ability to gain awareness about relational dynamics in supervision, and articulate what he or she is observing, provides valuable information for the coach´s reflection.

Eye 6: The Supervisor

This eye goes hand in hand with the previous one and addresses the reflections or sensations that arise in the supervisor during supervision. Instead of interpreting them as their own, the supervisor puts them at the service of the supervisee as signs that might reveal something about their case.

Eye 7: The Wider Context

The last eye invites us to consider the coaching case as part of a much broader context, organizational, sectoral, social, cultural, etc. A systemic look at how these external influences might be acting on the client's situation, or to understand that what seemed like an individual coachee´s challenge actually reflects the impact of dynamics and patterns present throughout a system.


And for those who are interested in reading more about supervision, I recommend Peter Hawkins and Nick Smith's book, "Coaching, Mentoring and Organizational Consultancy. Supervision, Skills & Development", Open University Press, McGrawHill (2013)

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