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“When a supervisee comes to supervision, both people will be changed by the relationship and the conversation that happens between them……(supervision) is a place for everyone in the system to be thought about or held in mind. It is a place to have deep conversations; it is a place to think creatively with a joined heart/mind perspective.”   Joan Wilmot,  “Supervision as Transformation”.

 This is one of my favourite observations about supervision. Working with supervisees these last few months has been taking us all deeper into the territory of  ‘who we are is how we coach’.  And what I have noticed is that the more supervision focusses on what is happening inside the coach as they work with their clients – and attends to what is happening coaches’ lives – the more intelligence, creativity and delight is released for coaching sessions. Coaches’ inner and outer contexts hugely affect professional resourcefulness.

The quotation above reminds me too, that our interconnectness shows up powerfully in the relational work of coaching and coaching supervision. The obverse is true:  blocks in our being and in our hearts, also block our ability to connect fully with clients, to be imaginative in sessions and to intervene in meaningful and powerful ways. Transformative coaching begins inside me – and inside you.  Energetically, who we are in the moment affects every aspect of our coaching conversations.  It will be ‘felt’ at a subtle but real level by our clients.

Increasingly, I know the truth of: ‘the success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener’ (Sharmer/Senge).  In supervision, it is essential that we work with coaches at the overt level of content/contracts/interventions, but it is even more important that we have the care and courage to address with supervisees all the subtle personal and internal influences that can ensure – or impede – truly transformative work.

A simple example: it is the default reaction of some coaches to blame themselves when a session has seemed clunky – and indeed, it is important that we reflect on our role in that clunkiness.  But it is a different level of self-observation, if we can do that in a spirit of loving self-enquiry.  That way, we self-supervise healthily and in an energy of imagination and possibility.  Heart-based enquiry opens up thought and understanding; it also connects us to others and to the deepest layers in our clients.

“This willingness to put our personalities aside, is I believe, an act of love….(we) realise that every case belongs to all of us. When one person is working, we are all working.” R Shohet “Supervision as Transformation”.

What practices support you to open your mind and your heart to yourself and to others? How do you self-supervise? What is your habitual attitude to your less successful sessions?? Are you blocking your learning or enhancing it as you reflect on sessions?

Edna Murdoch, November 2012