The Group Supervision Experience Calls were one of the reasons that led me to join the Association for Coaching UK in early 2012 – they were called Coach Mentor Supervision Calls at the time. I had then been recommended the service by a coach who had also mentioned services like the Co-coaching forums as being great benefits that could be enjoyed by members when developing their practices.
Since my first session in February 2012 I have always been reminded of the introduction of supervision as presented in one of my first coaching books, Career Counselling(1). In the latter Robert Nathan and Linda Hill report that supervision would often be seen as having a threefold function labelled by Proctor (1988) as 'formative', 'restorative' and 'normative'(2).
With regards to the 'formative' aspect, I have no doubt that discussing with my peers some actual instances/situations evaluated in the context of some coaching practices that I may not have been familiar with has been invaluable to my development as a coach. I have also benefited from the positive and critical evaluations from the coaches and the supervisor when sharing a particular issue that I had brought on the call.
In addition to the opportunity to contribute to my assessment and development of my competences as a coach I have experienced how much the sense of community has supported me in the role of independent coach in which I can feel at times “isolated”. I have also on some instances been able to bring difficult issues to a place that I trusted to be safe and gain confidence in my practice and competences as a result of the feedback that I received. These have been my most significant experiences of the 'restorative' element inherent to supervision.
For the 'normative' dimension of supervision I appreciate that the sharing of cases and the relevant discussions with my peers and the supervisors have given me an awareness and understanding of shared professional standards way beyond the textbooks I have read or the actual distinct coaching techniques or theories brought by the coaches. This is also true of the acquisition of a shared pragmatic interpretation of the ethical guidelines promoted by the Association for Coaching UK as these were either implicitly or explicitly part of the issues discussed on the call under the facilitation of a trained supervisor.
In conclusion I am grateful that as an independent coach, I have greatly benefited from the ACGSE calls as a support and reflective mechanism. In the confines of a safe supervision, the sharing of experiences with like-minded practitioners has taken me at times to an uncomfortable zone where the magic happens.
Jean-Charles Gentilly, Chartered MCIPD Career & Leadership Coach
Notes: (1) Nathan, R. and Hill, L. (2006) Career Counselling. London: SAGE. (2) Proctor, B. (1988) Supervision: A Working Alliance (Videotape Training Manual). St Leonards on Sea: Alexia