By Kate Pinder
Book Review from our Book Club: Supervision in the Helping Professions

Book Review from our Book Club: Supervision in the Helping Professions

by Hawkins, P. and McMahon, A. with contributions from Robin Shohet, Judy Ryde and Joan Wilmot. Published by OUP, McGraw-Hill, 2020 

This is the 5th edition, with Peter Hawkins as the common denominator and updates the 2012 4th edition. Members of the book club had different editions, often a key textbook during their training, and the one member who hadn’t said she wished she had, as she found it “immensely useful for those new to supervision, praising it for “mapping the territory”.  Learning is supported by the book having some practical exercises as well as exploring the more academic thinking and research findings.

The book club sometimes spends two meetings on a book before writing a review, and decided to spend our second zoom meeting on the chapters which seemed be the newest – chapters 2, 14 and 15. Chapter 2, headed “The seven capacities of a reflective practitioner” adds ‘embodying learning’ and ‘understanding one’s deeper motivations’ to the five capacities in the previous edition, an indication of the direction of the professions, with the “shadow motivations” being part of the latter capacity, which provoked some discussion in our group.

The book covers all the helping professions and sometimes the coaching “voice” is faint, but it’s very interesting to see how supervision is viewed and defined by the different professions – therapy, social work, medicine, law etc. Different representatives from 11 of those professions reviewed the development of supervision in their professional discipline in chapter 14.

The group discussed whether there might be potential for wider work with other professions for coach supervisors if it were labelled differently and we explored some possibilities, with some members feeling it was important to have that professional expertise if supervising those professionals, particularly with those professions dealing with trauma.

The group discussion developed into not just reading and reviewing a book, but what it provoked in terms of thinking and assessing our own practice; also the variety in our own choice of different supervision theoretical backgrounds over time. Chapter 15 gathered together recent research.  It seems that evidence for the benefits of supervision is scant and what exists is often contradictory.  However, the authors suggest that there is more indication of supervision being beneficial when it is “embodied” – and in the chapter context, they were referring to role play, chair work and fast-forward rehearsal.  This prompted an exploration around whether recordings are still as common in use in supervision – some feeling that they can make the biggest learning impact.

It also prompted us to wonder whether AoCS needs to get together with EMCC and AC to explore setting up more research studies, which other disciplines seem to have found easier to do (Chapter 15).

The book club has five members from three countries currently, and the review above attempts to describe, not only a review of the book, but the sort of discussion it provoked and how the club members work together.

We have room for one or two more members if anyone would like to join us on Zoom. Please contact Kate Pinder (AoCS member [email protected] ) if you are interested.


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Kate Pinder

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