What is Coaching Supervision?
We explore benchmarking, the discussion of ethical dilemmas and adding perspective on the quality of coaching practice

What is Coaching Supervision?

Supervision on a 121 or group basis is the formal opportunity for coaches working with clients to share, in confidence, their case load activity to gain insight, support and direction for themselves and thereby enabling them to better work in the service of their clients.

As a coach you have the professional capacity to help bring about important changes for individuals, groups and organisations, however your work can also deeply influence people who are in a life-changing situation or transition and who may be rendered vulnerable and possibly dependent.

Coaches need supervision and increasingly corporate clients and procurement specialists are making evidence of regular supervision part of their quality assurance process. A supervisor is a more experienced coach who:

  • Helps you benchmark your practice against best practice
  • Works through ethical dilemmas with you
  • Brings a perspective about the quality of the coaching practice

Coaching supervision draws on the best practice of psychotherapy and counselling supervision and places it within a coaching orientation. As such, it upholds the principles of coaching and mentoring and the coaching relationship. 

The ICF Board have adopted the position of "strongly encouraging" supervision and say:  
“Coaching Supervision is a collaborative learning practice to continually build the capacity of the coach through reflective dialogue for the benefit of both coaches and clients. (It) focuses on the development of the coach’s capacity through offering a richer and broader opportunity for support and development…and creates a safe environment for the coach to share their successes and failures in becoming masterful in the way they work with their clients.”

What does a supervisor do?

This is not a checklist or mandatory set of areas to cover, but may well include:

  • Clear Contracting and creating a working alliance, including help with multi-party contracting where appropriate
  • Establishing good boundaries
  • Enhancing reflection when working with content and process
  • Attending to the coach’s personal development; opening up new areas of competence for the coach
  • Deepening coaching presence
  • Building the coach's internal supervisor
  • Offering new perspectives to the coach
  • Increasing the coach’s range of interventions and tools
  • Being sensitive to the coach’s learning style
  • Bringing in aspects of coaching psychology as appropriate
  • Working with Parallel Process
  • Giving constructive feedback
  • Offering experiments and applications through which the coach can learn
  • Working systemically – with the coach, the client and the wider field
  • Ensuring that standards and ethics are maintained

How does a coach gauge the quality of a supervisor?

AoCS members are all trained and experienced in coaching supervision, most are accredited, and all subscribe to a code of ethics and hold professional indemnity insurance (where available). They retain membership of their own professional body and actively maintain their CPD.

AoCS cannot provide endorsements or recommendations, but suggest you set up a short trial period with a new supervisor to see if you're compatible, just as coaches do with their clients.

As a further guide to Coach Supervisor requirements:

  • Significant training and experience in supervision (although some may also be training or newly qualified)
  • In touch with developments in the field of coaching and with current coach training
  • Knowledge of corporate life and organisational systems, and to the ability to ‘read’ organisations
  • Psychological theory especially as it relates to professional life and relationships
  • Sensitivity to the coach’s situation
  • Ability to work with different coaching and learning styles
  • Adopt ethical and professional standards
  • Be in regular supervision themselves


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Become part of our online family. Connecting and empowering each other to succeed. We want to give supervision wider exposure and a larger 'share of voice' in the coaching community. Come and join us!

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