Supervision – what’s in it for you?


You may have heard the term coaching ‘supervision’ – but is supervision just for coaches, and what does it actually mean in practice?

Added on 14 July 2015 by Charlotte Sills

Coaching supervision session

In the fields of counselling or coaching, supervision is a professional requirement. Coaches and consultants are ethically required to discuss their work and themselves with a supervisor – to help them look after themselves and their clients.

But supervision can be a support for everyone. It provides people from all walks of working life with an opportunity to think about themselves, their work and their relationships and to get support.

The term ‘supervision’ is often misunderstood. It’s not about someone watching over you and assessing your work in the conventional management sense of the word.  Rather, it’s about a confidential, ‘helping’ relationship where you are given the opportunity to explore and reflect on your work with an independent and impartial third party.

Through the use of empathy, support and challenge, your ‘supervisor’ can help you get distance on a particular issue or concern, think about how you might tackle things differently and support you in carrying out your work to the best of your ability.

It’s a great tool to support a lifelong process of learning and development as well as a critical support for those who are in training to become a coach, counsellor or consultant.

This is some of what supervision can offer:

  • Space for reflective practice. The opportunity, space and time to think, reflect, explore and inquire into successes, listen to your inner voice and name the ‘unthought known’ (to borrow a phrase from Christopher Bollas).
  • A place to develop knowledge. Supervision can act as a support for your ongoing inquiry into how you practice and how you can get even better at what you do.
  • The opportunity to identify blind spots: A space that is safe and supportive enough for you to risk revealing – to yourself and to others – your conscious or unconscious feelings, thoughts and triggers.
  • Recognition and discussion about ‘stuck’ patterns – a place for you to explore how you are relating to others and handling events.
  • Space to think through ethical issues
  • Support for brave ideas – where you can  be encouraged to take good risks
  • A space to develop skills – where you can learn about and ideally practise new skills and creative/innovative ways of exploring and working.

Ashridge offers both individual and group coaching supervision. Find out more.

This week is international supervision week. Ashridge took part in it by hosting an event including Ashridge supervisors alongside Robin Shohet, Joan Wilmot of CSTD and Ben Fuchs of Ashridge and CSTD, all of whom contributed to this blog.

Find out more about events happening near you here: