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It seems that there is no shortage of special causes which deserve a “day” of recognition – and coaching and coaching supervision is no exception.   The week commencing 15th May has been identified as International Coaching Week and within that week, Friday 19th is being heralded as International Coaching Supervision Day.  

 

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Because supervision is for life, not just for accreditation...!

Posted By Anne Calleja, 01 July 2017

It’s Monday morning 8.00 am and I am going through information one of my supervisees has sent me in preparation for our call later today…..

I want to take time out to reflect and be prepared for the call, since the supervisee has put a lot of effort into their preparation. It is all paperwork:  coaching logs, CPD, training logs, personal statement and ethics, in readiness to submit for accreditation

And now this takes me back I hear the echo of my supervisor when I was training and putting off completing the paper work for accreditation – his advice was “Just do it!”

I remember the process well. At the time I was reluctant to repeat the experience,  and yet here I am an accredited and registered member of many professional associations.  So much has shifted…

I reflect in the moment on my journey first in business, then as an Executive Coach and latterly as a psychotherapist.  As a Coach I remembered questioning why I would need supervision. Wasn’t supervision for trainees? Was I not old enough and wise enough already?! I smile wryly at that memory, now in the moment…

It was when I embarked on my psychotherapy training that I encountered a different philosophy.  In this field supervision is a compulsory component of accreditation, yet it’s not just to keep you on the straight and narrow. It was for someone impartial to share your dilemmas, crises, emotions and triggers. I remember well the days reaching out to my supervisor when all seemed doom and gloom and wondering whether I would ever get through the non–ending reflection and completion of paperwork,


And now, here I am today at the other end of the ‘tunnel’, helping an experienced coach through their application for accreditation.  It feels so vital to seek support for many aspects – administration, reflective practice, emotional support - as well as bringing client dilemmas, learning more about models and interventions.

We all learn in different ways, I prefer to learn through participative discussion, and then will follow up with reading and putting theory into practice.  So this is a thank you to my long suffering supervisor of 10 years - who has been with me as guide, support, mentor and encouragement…as well as keeping me motivated to complete the paperwork!

I wanted to grasp this moment to share this with you, no matter how & why you start it …. supervision is for life, not just for accreditation!


Anne Calleja MSc, DMS, Dip. NLP EHP, PDCHYP, BSCH, BACP Reg, UKCP Reg, MAC, APECS, CIPD.

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What do my breakfast and my supervision have in common?

Posted By Sue Stockdale, 01 July 2017

No two coaching clients are the same.  Just like no two mornings are the same for me. And if we get into a habit of assuming that things are always the same, we can fall into the same patterns of behaviour, which may not be effective. 

To counteract this danger, I always eat something different for breakfast. Sometimes its cereal, sometimes toast or a smoothie.  This stems from my belief that if we want to improve as coaches, no matter how we do it, we need to get used to being uncomfortable, and not just rely on habits, patterns or models that have served us in the past. 

Today, after boiled eggs and toast, it’s time to begin work. I have a series of coaching supervision calls with coaches who operate as internal coaches within an organisation. The sessions are usually one hour in duration, and I go into each session expecting that the coach will have done some preparation beforehand.  At the beginning of the supervision relationship, the coach receives a supervision notebook containing questions and ideas to consider so that they come to the call prepared and focused.  It makes it more enjoyable and productive for both of us, when they have done a bit of preparation beforehand.

When I am doing telephone work I am often in my office which overlooks open fields and lots of trees.  It’s very peaceful and I hope that this environment influences how I operate and that the calm energy is transmitted through the phone too.

At the end of our conversation I always ask the coach for their feedback about the session.  We can step out of the content, and review “how the session went” together.  If I don’t do this, how do I know if I have done a good job, and what I can improve for the next time? It’s interesting to notice that often what the coach has found valuable is different to what I thought was impactful.  It helps us both to become more aware of how (where?) the supervision is of value. 

Later in the day I take time to write up my notes from the call, reflecting on what I learned and how the we both reacted to the issues that were raised.  I can glean as much benefit from the thinking time afterwards as I can from being “present in the moment” during the call.   There are reflection pages in the coach’s notebook so that they can also write their observations after the session.  I find myself wondering, “What did they learn?”  Did it seem like supervision or coaching  for them?  What, did they not say ?   My aim is to use the ‘plan, do, review’ process to keep improving as a coaching supervisor.  That helps me get out of my comfort zone!

 

Sue Stockdale

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Ski-Vision

Posted By Henry Campion, 01 July 2017

‘Metaphor underlies all forms of understanding whatsoever, science and philosophy no less than poetry and art.’ Ian McGilchrist

For me, supervision is like skiing - and I love skiing. The ascent in the cool, bright mountain air, the silence of a fresh fall of snow, emerging to the heart-lifting vision of snow-capped peaks stretching off to the horizon on every side. Then the moment of gathering and launching myself down the run, sensing the pull of gravity, responding to the angle of the slope, the quality of the snow, and the condition of the piste, my body and all my senses attuned to the flow of movement as I weight and unweight my skis in rhythmic turns. 

At the end of the run, I pause to catch my breath, to relish the sensation - and to reflect on how it went. Were there moments when I was ‘in the zone’, totally immersed it what I was doing; or even better, skiing mindfully, aware both of skiing and of being aware of skiing? Were there moments when I lost my concentration, where I hesitated, where fear caused me to lean back and lose my balance?  What did I do to cause or allow these things to happen? What will I do differently on my next run?

As a supervisor - or, as I prefer, a reflective partner - my experience has many of the same qualities: the anticipation of engaging with this particular coach, reviewing my notes as the meeting approaches, then centring myself and holding them in my awareness before launching into the session. We start gently, wide turns giving time to re-connect and re-contract, to re-create the holding space between us before engaging with the client issue the coach has brought. What does this client hold for the coach, what is the emotional pull behind the content?

I listen with my body and senses attuned until something tugs at my awareness. The slope steepens as I draw the coach’s attention to what I have noticed and we begin to explore the coach’s experience of what was going on in relation to the client, and perhaps the wider system. What images or feelings are being evoked, how those might be playing out between us in this moment, what insights are emerging? We continue together in the flow of our conversation, sometimes side by side, sometimes leading, sometimes following, but always in touch, sensing, experiencing, moving in the moment.

At the end of our time, we stop to reflect on how the meeting has gone, what has been discovered or learned on the way, and what implications that might have for the work with the client. After we have parted, I do my own reflection - just as I would after an exhilarating ski run.       

Henry Campion

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A Step into the Forest

Posted By Ken Smith, 01 July 2017

A new supervisee today.  The universe currently sends me internal coaches who are quite new to coaching.  It’s an invitation to put on the expert hat.  I resist this to an extent, partly holding to the principle that supervision is a reflective process, partly to rein in my need for expert strokes.  I’ve learned that with many new coaches only so much deeper reflection, only so much modelling of their process is helpful.  

So I’ve been allowing myself to be a bit more discursive, offer a little information and ask a few more straightforward questions: “so what’s the contract … what’s the client come to you for … what else have you tried …?”  Today’s supervisee talks about a garrulous, unfocussed client who seems to keep slipping out from under her questions.  It leaves her wondering about whether she’s getting it right; is it enough just to be a sounding board for her client, she asks.  I say that coaching is about something changing and that yes, while, people come to coaching to be seen and heard, there’s an expectation that, as a result of it, they can make a clearer choice about doing something differently - or at least be clearer on whether they are ready to make a change.  Is your client ready, I ask.  We talk about goals, their importance and the need to set and carry them lightly, allowing whatever needs to emerge to do so.

Getting it right, to add value, has been a theme for so many of the coaches I’ve supervised.  So we talk a little about who is responsible for what in a coaching conversation.  All coaches want to do right by their clients but during our own conversation a few hints emerge that my supervisee has a bit of “be perfect” pattern.  We’re just over the hour and the session’s been positive with a fair amount of laughter, enough for me to be a touch bold and, attempting a small glint in my eye and half a smile, ask “how long have you been a perfectionist?” She finds the supplementary question “how do you know when you are getting it right in other places?” intriguing and we spend a little time on where her reference points for her rightness in a couple of other contexts.   More laughter and more reflections and, after this brief paddling it slightly deeper waters, we find our way back to the importance of contracting and using the contract as the anchor point for conversations that keep going off on tangents.  

We review what she’s learned and, among other things, it seems she’s written down a question I suggested she might like to consider asking her client.  Funny how some of those passing, brief thoughts can be the most pregnant ones.  

It’s been an enjoyable session.  Supervision can be transformational but there surely are degrees of transformation.  I’m pleased because I think I’ve gone to where my supervisee is and then just taken a helpful half a step ahead – which seems today to be enough.

Ken Smith

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Simply Sharing Joy!

Posted By Jo Birch, 01 July 2017

I’m sharing this story because this moment in time felt so significant to me, so fundamental to my essence. Since I bring that essence of me into my relationships with my clients and supervisees this story must therefore relate to my craft as a coach and coaching supervisor. The story reminds me, and I guess confirms to me, that magic happens…and it is not always where I expect it to be! See what you think. How does this story of joy and connection resonate for you and you work? 

I was cycling through the park. As it happens I was returning from my own supervision. I was deep in reflection on the work I had been covering in my session, going over some of my thinking and learning, turning the pedals slowly.

I heard a loud pop…a bit like a gun. I looked up and realised a school were using the running track for a sports afternoon and the 100m sprint group had just left the blocks at the far side of the field. 

It was quite a distance away and I was cycling along a tree lined path. I couldn’t see faces. I could see the children were small. One of these small people, a young girl, maybe 8 years old, was striding out. In the first seconds she seemed to expand her presence, her very being… even though in reality she was tiny. She ripped down the track like a tornado and stretched over the finish line. She was far, far ahead of the pack.

In the few seconds it took her to run the distance I wobbled on the bike…. hoping I wouldn’t hit a secret pothole and end up a heap. I was unable to avert my eyes.

A middle aged man had also been watching as he walked towards me. He was equally mesmerised. He looked around for someone. I looked for him. We were both wide eyed and smiling. ‘She was amazing’ ‘We’ve seen someone really special there, lass!’

I felt a huge surge of emotion between us - a flash of deep connection in our shared wonder at what we had witnessed, both of us present in the moment, holding each other’s gaze for a fleeting second. We passed on by, yet the emotion stayed. I felt tearful and not at all sad, I felt expansive, happy and connected. I felt hopeful and a sense that ‘all was well with the world’. I felt joy.  

A small girl skipped back to her classmates, not knowing anything of the experience of these strangers. 

The moment has stayed with me and I have turned it over and over. 

Why was this so magical? How did we both know ‘something’ was happening here? Did we in fact ‘know’ or am I simply making meaning out of a co-incidence? What (if anything) does this tell me about people? What (if anything) does this tell me about me? 

I may not know the answers to any of these questions (yet) except to say that here-and-now, on this day, two strangers experienced a moment as special, and reached out to connect. I know I’d like more of these moments; more noticing of magic; more sharing of joy; more hopefulness. 

I wonder…might it also be possible that I may somewhere, sometime, have unknowingly touched the heart of another? I smile at the possibility. That is indeed a wonderful thought.

Jo Birch

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A Day In The Life Of A Coaching Supervisor

Posted By Elaine Patterson, 01 July 2017

I notice that my days ebb and flow to a natural energy and rhythm. …. A waxing and a waning….

…. An intentional series of shorter and longer reflective cycles with their stops, retreats and returns which has now become the hallmark of my life and practice …. 

I also notice that no one day is the same.. I love the variety … I always try to offer myself the space and spaciousness I hope I offer to my clients. 

But in saying that I always try to attend to my four touchstones which never fail to inspire, support, resource and sustain me … and without which I feel the poorer…and the day less balanced or fulfilling… 

I always know when my energy is dipping… when my brain starts to clog, when my heart starts to close, when my shoulders start to ache. And I also know that this is when I need to pause to reflect to re-open my mind, my heart and my senses. I have got braver at knowing when to stop.

Sometimes practically, it is not always possible to invite all four touchstones into my life every day. But over a week I seek their balance. I also find that they provide a speedy self-diagnosis for when I start to wobble…and become less of the person I want to be… 

My touchstones are:

1. Making Connections

2. Finding Inspirations

3. Taking Action

and

4. Making Space For Me 

Taking each in turn:

1. Making Connections

Each day I need to reach out to make connections with people, ideas, trends, and / or with nature. These connections ground me, and my work. They provide a home and put a context around me...

2. Finding Inspirations

Each day I need to feed my heart and my soul. I need to feed off quotes, ideas, nature, poetry, art and drama to inspire me, to keep me open, to see different perspectives, to get me out of myself, to see a bigger picture, to be alive….

3. Taking Action

Taking action, making a contribution, making a difference is fundamental to me. I enjoy my peace and solitude but I know I am always called to act (hopefully wisely and creatively) in some way in service of something bigger than myself. 

and

4. Making Space For Me

Attending to my own self-care is foundational for me. Life is busy. Our daughter is disabled. I know from bitter experience that if short change my reflective practices – my Nordic walking circuit, my meditation or my journaling practices – or if I short change my self care with a lack of rest, sleep or balancing massages I notice I get tired and grumpy

So how does all of this translate ….??

I love mornings! 

My week days start at 6.00am with getting my daughter to school on her school bus. Then a Nordic walk round the local fields to get out into the fresh air come rain or shine. This is my thinking time and the exercise sets me up for day. 

The drive home sees me setting my priorities for the day. 

At home as the cafetaire brews I start to write, doodle or draw in my journal. 

Then onto the WORK of coaching or supervising clients on Skype or in London; to answering calls and emails... 

At lunchtime I like to stop and to meditate. I pause for breathe.  I have a great tape, which works every time. Sometimes I sleep. Then I return to more of the same feeling refreshed. 

The late afternoon sees me slowing down, searching for inspirations, journaling or writing .... and finding time for family and friends. I ban the computer in our house at 8.00pm….I feel that the constant distraction of the screen stops us from being present to ourselves, to others and to the wonderful life around us..


Elaine Patterson

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Just a perfect day

Posted By Michelle Lucas, 01 July 2017

Many coaches when I meet them for the first time ask what prompted me to become a coaching supervisor.  In truth I became a coaching supervisor by chance – it wasn’t something I had planned.  However, now that I’m here, there is no place I would rather be! 

My portfolio is roughly 50:50 coaching clients and supervision clients – with the occasional coach development programme thrown in for good measure. Of all of this, it is the supervision work which I enjoy the most.  There is a wonderful energy working with coaches who are passionate about their own development – and the nature of supervision relationships also means that we tend to work together over a longer period of time. 

So what does that mean for my “average day”?  Well, a couple of weeks ago, I had an almost perfect one.  It was a Friday, a day when many coaches choose to work from home and so it usually has a supervision focus.  I am based in Weymouth, Dorset – which is pretty much a long way from anywhere – and so being able to work via phone or skype is really convenient for me.

In the morning I had two individual supervision clients – both of whom were trainees at the same coaching school where I had trained. So on both occasions I had to be careful … managing myself to bring just enough of that shared experience to keep rapport, whilst watching out for the potential for collusion. The first session was fascinating, we discussed two of her 4 practice clients. She also shared that she was struggling with “how to reflect”.  This is a common “confession” and one I too have struggled with in my own journey as a reflective practitioner.  I see the role of supervisor as a flexible one and so I donned my “coaching the coach” hat to support her to create a specific action plan.  By contrast with the second supervisee, we spent the whole hour exploring her experience with one client. The phrase “peeling the layers of the onion” was very apt. I find it intriguing how certain clients offer a disproportionate amount of learning.  

In the afternoon I ran two supervision groups – whilst they each had the same structure, I needed to take a very different approach with each of them.  My groups have a flexible attendance, so on each occasion the mix of participants will be different.  Some will have worked together before, others will be working with people for the first time.  This level of variety and complexity suits my personality style – I like to keep things fresh, yet at the same time I recognise that in a group supervisees need a sense of stability and safety. 

Therefore before each group session, I put considerable thought into how this particular configuration of coaches are likely to be feeling about the group supervision call.

For those who are quite new to group supervision (or new to my group) I keep in mind my own sense of anticipation prior to my first group supervision experience (which felt like jumping off the 10 metre board!) For those who have worked with me many times, I notice a sense of reassurance as I relish what wonderful topics they might bring, and my level of trust in how they will bring their insight to support their peers.

In my reflections on one session I noticed it provoked a moment of insecurity for me.  The way in which the coaches worked together was so mature and insightful that I wondered what value I had provided over and above what they brought themselves. Perhaps paradoxically, part of me welcomes this “wobble” – I remember an article by Eric de Haan who suggested that self-doubt is where great questions are born!

Looking at my diary for the Friday I knew I was going to be busy.  So it was important to manage my energy through the day.  Living by sea and being a dog owner, the start of the day is a well-oiled routine.  A brisk walk across the seafront to blow away the morning’s cobwebs and I am then ready for the day ahead.  At lunch time, I have found that the mindful colouring books are a great “fix” – 10 minutes of left brain activity is very generative. Of course as small business owner there’s no shortage of administrative tasks to manage.  So even when I have a busy day I tend to use these activities as “fillers”.  And this day was no exception – I discovered an unpaid invoice mid-morning and was able to chase for payment and get a response before the day was over.  As I said earlier – pretty much a perfect day!

Michelle Lucas

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Dancing my dance - enhancing my presence

Posted By Jo Birch, 01 July 2017

The Edinburgh morning sun streams through the glass door in my office. I breathe in… deeply… smiling. This is joy - meeting the music of life, of connection and of contribution. Inside I am the free spirit of Isadora Duncan’s barefoot dance – using ancient form in the creation of contemporary movement. I twirl. This…this is my dance, and this dance is my work – being in service to the people who choose to work with me, providing supervision, coaching, psychotherapy…and working with colleagues in business and charity endeavours.

I bring myself into presence, being present with myself in order that I might be fully connected to the other. The essence of being together – the foundation of my work. How do I continue to sharpen and develop this capacity in myself? 

Today is Thursday. Thursday is Tai Chi morning. On some mornings I might run from the house, ungainly and without grace, along the prom and use the sea breeze to uplift my spirits…but on a Thursday, whenever possible, I drop into a still space of ‘form’.

I arrive. After many years of qigong, I am now learning Wudang taichi. I’m the least advanced. My learning affected by frequent travel and missed sessions. We chat and smile, and enter our warm up. As we circle the room I drop into space with myself. My heart, mind and will come together and I find the rich stillness in the movement. This ancient art, precise small actions linked together into a graceful form, stimulating acupuncture points, aligning me, bringing me home to myself. Here, my body and spirit begin to fill. 

An hour or so later, as I leave the session I applaud my recently acquired skill of making diary appointments spacious. Good work Jo! I cycle home slowly.

In the afternoon I have a skype supervision session with my own supervisor. More enrichment!  Before the session I prepare, glancing over my list of people. Who shall I bring today? What relationship is calling for attention? What do I least want to bring? I lift up from the list…what else is around for me that might impact on my work? What am I celebrating this month? What are my general struggles? I sketch out some ideas for the focus of our session. Sometimes I follow my loose plan, and, more often, my thinking takes me elsewhere. Magic unfolding!

I bounce out of my supervision ready to move. My office is in the garden so I walk around and chat to my spring shoots! I peep from a distance into the darkness that I know houses the blackbird’s new nest. I water the pots. All this supports my insights from supervision to settle within me.

I check my diary. Today I have an evening session with a fairly new supervisee and a late call to a colleague in the States.

I usually work until around 9pm. I check my diary again, and laugh at my compulsion to do so! What do I have in the morning? Ah! I see Friday starts with a supervision session with a coach in Asia Pacific, then a tutor call with a student on the UK Diploma in Coaching Supervision. Friday is always a busy day. I close my diary. 

I focus on the supervisee about to arrive….ah yes. I remember where we were last session. I wonder what our focus will be this evening. How will we dance together? I settle in my chair and simply breathe in stillness for 10 minutes. I am already with you. Come.

Jo Birch

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