By Michael Cullen
Book Review: "The Heart of Coaching Supervision"

Book Review: "The Heart of Coaching Supervision"

The Heart of Coaching Supervision: Working with Reflection and Self-Care, Eve Turner & Stephen Palmer, eds., Routledge, 2019

Our previous book review on “Coaching Supervision, Advancing Practice, Changing Landscapes” (Jo Birch & Peter Welsh, eds. Routledge, 2019) posited that the book was like an art gallery of various supervision artists displaying their positions and thoughts on supervision as diverse pieces of art.

This book review, courtesy of the input from AoCS Book Club members, reveals that “The Heart of Coaching Supervision” may be considered a planetarium showcasing a range of stars, planets, and systems that can be currently found in the current galaxy of coaching supervision pioneers/practitioners cum astrologers.

Too oblique a metaphor? Well, considering the range and scope of the chapters in this mighty pocketbook, one struggles to capture it all in just one image/review. Our reviewers had equally wide-ranging reactions and thoughts about the contents and positions taken throughout this highly-engaging compilation.

Overall, the consensus was that this book touched each of us differently; challenging our own concepts of what coaching supervision is or, is supposed to be. Discussions ranged from the practical applications, to the characters and characteristics of the contributors (many of whom we know), to the suitability and purpose of coaching supervision.

Like the profession of coaching itself, coaching supervision appears to be struggling to establish its foothold as a legitimate, credible, and necessary practice. Now that coaching has been accepted and recognized in the corporate world, more and more companies are using coaches to create a coaching culture wherein leaders use a coach-approach as a means to guide their teams; will internal coaches become redundant as a result?

Similarly, with the recent introduction of coaching supervision into the coaching field, one has to wonder if peer-to-peer coaching will simply fold in coaching supervision approaches also as a guide rather than recognizing it as a separate, specialized practice. This book goes a long way to allay that concern. The ten, brief, case studies (presented in chapter ten), bring the subject into sharp focus and heighten both the reality and the complexities of it all.

The Heart of Coaching Supervision”, challenges the reader, coaches, and coaching supervisors alike to examine where their focus lies and what informs it. While this is by no means a simple task, each chapter concludes with a series of practice points, discussion points with questions, suggested readings, and references for readers willing to boldly explore past, new, and emerging territory; thus giving one serious pause for thought.

Indeed, as many of the book club members remarked, this book demands slow reading and the intentional setting aside of quiet time for reflection and contemplation.

And so, just like a visit to a show at the planetarium, “The Heart of Coaching Supervision” is at its best when the reader chooses to relax, explore, absorb, transcend, and marvel at the unfolding universe of coaching supervision.


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