By Keri Phillips
My approach to note-taking

My approach to note-taking

My approach to Note-taking in Supervision, by Keri Phillips

I have a note pad, but usually make only brief notes, scribbling a word or image which will prompt me in the session or later when I gather my thoughts. Obviously I would not want to be looking away from the supervisee for lengthy periods. My aim is to produce something that I can later send to the supervisee and also prompt my reflections.

When the session is over I make sure that I have enough time, roughly 30 minutes, to put together the note I then send to the supervisee during the next 24 hours. This covers:

  • My recollection of the key points. I do not aim or claim to be offering a fully comprehensive summary.
  • Reference to matters which I may have partly forgotten. ‘I seem to remember that you were a bit irritated with the client, but I don’t recall the reason’.
  • A note of any specific actions where a clear commitment was made by the supervisee. ‘You said you would update me by 18 January’ (such commitments are only invited and made if the supervisee believes it would be helpful).
  • Possible references to further theory/reading.
  • Further linkages, ideas which may have occurred to me during the writing of the notes. These may cover a pretty wide spectrum ranging from intrapersonal dynamics (‘I’m only guessing, but maybe when you were coaching you were distracted by…’) through to systemic, cultural issues (‘Perhaps the client organisation is a place where mixed messages are sent out regarding feelings’). Sometimes I comment on the process that took place between us, where we might have worked together in a different (not necessarily better) way.

At any point between the sessions I may, but certainly not as a matter of routine, send the supervisee an occasional post script. This would be a brief afterthought prompted by my own receipt of supervision, further reading and reflection and ‘gifts from the universe’; the last item being random experiences which can trigger an insight. Any notes sent, whether after the session or later are accompanied by an invitation to the supervisee to get in touch if she/he wishes. I offer 20-30 minute catch-up conversations for which there is no charge.

The notes I write for the supervisee give me material/ideas/inspiration on which I can draw for receiving my own supervision. I use them to consider how my work with a supervisee may be evolving. Equally there might be broader points about my practice as a whole and the options I do/do not take. As touched on earlier, looking across the notes for all my supervisees there may be some contextual aspects in terms of wider global issues, including the cultures of coaching and coaching supervision.

My supervisees seem happy to receive the notes. Hopefully it is a win-win, since certainly it supports and energises my learning.

What’s your approach?


Keri Phillips

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Keri Phillips

Accredited Coaching Supervisor

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