Supervision in Coaching

Just as coaches are ‘there’ for their learners, supporting them, encouraging them and being a sounding board for what is happening in their work lives, so coaches also need to have support mechanisms and forums.

Like coaching, definitions around coaching supervision vary. Bachkirova, Stevens and Willis (2005) say coaching supervision:

‘…is a formal process of professional support, which ensures continuing development of the coach and the effectiveness of his/her coaching practice through interactive reflection, interpretive evaluation and the sharing of expertise’.


Much of the thinking around coaching supervision stems from the experiences and activities undertaken by those in the formal relationship and support areas, such as counselling et al. It has subsequently been adapted to be embraced by the coaching profession.

Hawkins and Shohet (1989, 2000) outline a number of foci of supervision all to provide development, resourcing or quality control:

  • To provide a regular space for the supervisees to reflect upon the content and process of their work
  • To develop understanding and skills within the work
  • To receive information and another perspective concerning one’s work
  • To receive both content and process feedback
  • To be validated and supported both as a person and as a worker
  • To ensure that as a person and as a worker one is not left to carry, unnecessarily, difficulties, problems and projections alone
  • To have space to explore and express personal distress, re-stimulation, transference, or counter transference that might be brought up by the work
  • To plan and utilise their personal and professional resources better
  • To be proactive rather than reactive
  • To ensure the quality of work


Like coaching practice, supervision entails contracting and often the use of a model to provide structure and focus to the discussions.

There also needs to be the development of a strong relationship with trust, openness and clears roles and responsibilities present. The clear use of review and reflection by the coach facilitated by the supervisor is important. The coach and supervisor must complete agreed actions.

There is an unwritten ‘rule’ that for every 10 hours of coaching there should be an hour of supervision held. Although a lot is spoken about supervision the coaching industry hasn’t been the best at translating this into supervision activity. Increasingly though its role and importance is increasing, to the point of training and qualifications being now available.

Bachkirova, Stevens and Willis (2005) Oxford Brookes Coaching and Mentoring Society,

Hawkins and Shohet (1989, 2000) Supervision in the Helping Profession. Open University Press, Milton Keynes