By Michelle Lucas
The supervisor’s catch-22 situation… a solution is on its way!

The supervisor’s catch-22 situation… a solution is on its way!

One of the joys of supervision is the longevity of the relationship.  Whereas coaching relationships will tend to last 9-12 months, supervision relationships often last many years. Indeed, some supervisees only change supervisors when their existing supervisor retires. The depth of the work we do in supervision means that a trusting relationship is vital, longevity facilitates this and allows the supervisor to notice developmental shifts overtime.

Given this context, how though do supervisors avoid becoming habituated in how they work with their supervisees?  i.e. how do they keep their practice fresh?  Clearly, the supervisor like any helping practitioner will engage in continuous professional development, extending their repertoire through training and further reading. 

However, I have noticed a curious difference between how coaches and supervisors embed new approaches into their practice. 

Post-qualification many coaches engage in co-coaching triads as a means of embedding and extending their coaching practice.  This arrangement starts on training courses and is often continued by alumni.  Some professional and member organisations specifically organise events for this purpose.  However, I have yet to come across this happening amongst the supervision community. 

Perhaps, because we are confident as practitioners, we believe we can adopt new approaches without error?  Perhaps because we have enduring and open relationships with our supervisees we can specifically contract to learn together? However, I know that when I have practiced a technique with my colleagues, it builds a much stronger sense of how I want to work with it so that it is congruent with my over-arching style.  Additionally, when I am on the receiving end of a new technique, I develop greater credibility around how I brief the client. This all fits with my principle of not asking my clients to do something that I have not first done for myself.

But if we must practice a technique before we can use it – we are in a “catch-22” situation – outside of a training environment who is going to be our first practice supervisee? And bear in mind that many times we “pick up” a new approach not at a training event alongside others but through reading or social media and even word of mouth. The notion of experimenting with a technique when we don’t fully appreciate how it might impact on the supervisee is surely un-professional at best and verging on unethical at worst!?!

Now that the global supervision community is growing – it feels to me that we are well placed to start building some rigour to how we extend and embed our practice.

I am delighted that AOCS feel similarly. Starting January 2021, the AOCS is launching a regular monthly co-supervision space for its member community and other interested professionals.

It also seems the AOCS member community agree.  The January 2021 session SOLD OUT within 24 hours and so we are looking at how to effectively increase numbers for sessions from February 2021 onwards. Registration for February 2021 will be released on Saturday 9th January 2021 – so set a reminder.

This is an answer to the old “catch-22” dilemma.  Working virtually, supervisors can come together to practice techniques in a safe environment, to extend our skills and to get genuinely candid and developmental feedback from our peers. 

This feels like good news for supervisors and great news for supervisees, who can enjoy being on the receiving of both new and tested techniques.

Find out more about this new initiative here:

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Michelle Lucas

Accredited Coaching Supervisor

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