In an article I read recently the Bishop of Blackburn is quoted with saying that “education is settling the disturbed and disturbing the settled”. That got me thinking about whether I thought that was a reasonable definition (amongst many others I grant you). A long time ago, a new supervisee asked me to work with him because he thought he was getting complacent- being told all the time how good he was- he felt sometimes he might be coasting a bit and not stretching himself. He said he wanted someone who would be direct with him. Now I faced a little dilemma here. Was this an invitation to a game or was it a recognition that sitting on your own laurels is not a good thing. Maybe both.
If “settling the disturbed” is an aspect of education, I can see how sometimes a supervisee comes to a session thinking that they didn’t do their very best in a coaching session. Maybe they feel they let themselves, or their client down. Together, we can explore ways to do it differently next time. Quite possibly they have done a good job but are tripping over their own scripts. Recognising with greater awareness what was at play in the session and gain perspective to go back into the fray and feel more in touch with the whole piece of work is also what comes into the arena of coaching supervision. It can have that settling effect. Reflective practice brings in the opportunity to see the situation without being sucked into the assumptions that may chaff at its edges and the coaches can ‘settle’ themselves.
On the other hand “disturbing the settled” is also right up the supervision street! The supervisee I mentioned at the beginning, for example, did want to be ruffled, did want challenge to provoke his thinking and check his own assumptions about what he knew and didn’t know, as much about himself as his client. In the right place and right moment good effective challenging can be a wake up call, a reminder to check blind spots and shadow aspects. We may not need to respond to them directly but the greater the awareness we have the more likely we can be available to learn and make needed changes in the space in which we sit and work. Flexibility and wholeheartedness to go into a vulnerable space with compassion and right intention is a good bridge. I’d like to think the Bishop would be with me on that one.
What in your work just now could do with a little healthy disturbance??
Karyn Prentice, Assistant Director CSA www.fletcherprentice.com
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