I decided to write this article after reading an article in Coaching at Work which said that one of their participants at the conference suggested the word Supervision “sounds like you’ve done something wrong”.

Louise Sheppard agreed “yes, it’s imbued with power, and has negative connotations which can get in the way”

I have been involved in so many conversations regarding what word can replace Supervision. In the States they use Mentor, which doesn’t go far enough. After a supervision session last week, I fed back the following words to a supervisee who I learn from as much as he hopefully learns from me. (it is a two-way process!)

“As a supervisor I switch between supervising, coaching mentoring, teaching and of course learning from you. On reflection I don’t normally say to supervisees I am switching from one hat to another, probably as you and other supervisees know what is going on whist a coachee wouldn’t. It is good to reflect isn’t it!”

This is quite interesting.  Why don’t I contract and set boundaries with a supervisee as much as I would with a coachee? Within supervision contracting, re-contracting and setting boundaries are probably the topics that arise the most. This is a topic which I will take to Group Supervision as I need to explore this further.

I started Group Supervision in 2008 at the same time I started training to be a supervisor at CSA, when I must admit I was a very green coach. At the 6-month long training programme initially I was overawed by the people around me who had all of this knowledge and experience which was all very fresh to me. By the end of the 6 months I felt very confident in my own abilities as in many ways I had different expertise to other people around the room

After being taught and supervised by people like Edna Murdoch (CSA), there is no way you can ever think you have done something wrong or feel that there is a power struggle going on. The only way coaches can see how supervision works is to try it with a supervisor who they believe they can get on with well. (no different to the rapport that needs to exist between a coach and a coachee)

I explained to the Association for Coaching how I found accreditation for both coaching and coaching accreditation to be so difficult to achieve, I believe it is a bit more straight forward now. I have just assisted two of my supervisees to attain accreditation, helping them to batch their work, support them in achieving their own deadlines and having some fun at the same time.

I accept I fell into supervision by going to a meeting with Peter Welch and we subsequently set up the Association of Coaching Supervisors (www.associationofcoachingsupervisors.com ) Whether you are a green coach like I was or 13 years of experience as a coach now, supervision is vital to us becoming better coaches for our clients in the future. I am not a natural reflector, so supervision helps me to reflect and see things from a different perspective.

What I like about coaching and supervision is that you never actually get to the end of your learning and of course we meet so many different types of people whilst we work. I am passionate about supervision as much as I am about coaching. How can we expect our coachees to adapt if we can’t adapt ourselves?

Parallel process is something else which happens a lot which you normally only pick up at supervision. I realise this esteemed audience will fully understand this, but many coaches don’t. It is evident that there is massive growth in the internal coaching sector how may internal coaches get supervision and how much of that supervision is external? How does an internal supervisor manage to separate themselves from the organisation and the culture? Not an easy dilemma?

So, if you are still worried about the word Supervision, try it for yourself and see the difference it makes to your coaching and of course how it benefits your clients.


Coach Supervisor Neil Williams is a founder member of the Association of Coaching Supervisors and takes supervision incredibly seriously. With saying this, he finds that supervision is enjoyable, reflection and working together with coaches is developmental for both parties.