How to Choose your Supervisor

How to Choose your Supervisor

In this highly interactive webinar we explored the question of how to choose our coaching supervisor. Participants included independent consultants/coaches, mentors and OD practitioners all with some coaching in their portfolios.  Their experience of supervision varied, which enriched our conversation about possible different approaches that people can take to find a supervisor to suit them. 

During the session, we explored the following themes:
what do we mean by supervision and what purpose does it serve
how to choose our supervisor

Our dialogue evolved around our acknowledgement and recognition that while coaching and mentoring are hugely rewarding and fulfilling to us as practitioners, much of the work involves being alone, before and after sessions, moving from one session to another.   So, how do we attend to our own wellbeing and fitness (mental and physical), particularly with the demands in the corporate world often dominated by emphasis on results, outcomes, competition? 

We agreed that supervision meets a number of key needs for us, giving us an opportunity to offload, unwind, get support, boost our confidence, solve knotty problems, get some answers and recharge our batteries.   In the process of reflecting on our work, our practice, our clients and on ourselves, supervision provides a container to explore these domains that help to keep us fit for purpose.
While peer support (often random) can be very helpful and fruitful, there is something unique about a contained, committed supervision relationship, that is dedicated to our learning, wellbeing and growth. 

How do we choose our supervisor
Here we identified a number of key questions that may help us to choose.  For example: 
How do I learn, who do I want to learn from and with
How do I like to work and what sort of relationship will support that
What do I want to know about the supervisor that will enable me to make a choice

At the heart of supervision is change to practice so we can ask ourselves: what do I hope for and/or need and want to enable me to grow personally and professionally?  Where am I in my learning and growth and where do I go next?  

How do we find this supervisor 
Here we identified a number of key questions that we might ask a prospective supervisor.  For example: 
What is your coaching and/or supervision model that informs you in your practice
How many supervisees do you work with and thus what is your availability
What would a normal session look like: how structured, how conversational
How do I feel when in the conversation with this person (be that face to face or virtually)
Willingness to work flexibly in terms of geography, time of day, methods 

This session modelled the process of supervision - a co-created dialogue, with input from everyone, answering questions, exploring options and hopefully offering some gentle guidance about the steps we can take to choose our supervisor, which is a unique, trusting and generative relationship that supports us in our practice. 


The following list is by no means complete but offers some links and reading that may be of interest:

EMCC UK - Guide to Supervision
EMCC International - link to accredited coaching supervisors 
Association of Coaching Supervisors - Find a Supervisor

Further Reading:

Clutterbuck, D., Lucas, M. & Whitaker, C. (2016) Coaching Supervision: A practical guide for Supervisees Routledge Oxon

Sheppard, Louise (2017) How coaching supervisees help and hinder their supervision International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring Special Issue No 11, June 2017