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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Matthews

Coach Supervision Continuum of Functions

How do you make sure you are getting the most out of your coach supervision? The turning point for me was increasing my understanding of what’s on the menu of options in the roles/processes available to make use of. When I started to know and experience the array of options my perception shifted to being a co-creative equal with my supervisor. Below I share a tool that was the most impactful for me in clarifying the buffet of options. 

Roles and processes of coach supervision

At first I was introduced to the three functions of supervision (Kudushin, 1985), often called the supervision triangle:  

  1. Management, about contractual responsibilities   

  2. Support, about own feelings/responses and 

  3. Education or development, creating my own flavour as a practitioner.  

This offers a framework that is deepens each time you explore it, hanging your own personal flavour and needs on it. At first it took me some time to understand this potential of nuance and how I could use it practically.

The “Functions in Supervision”* framework by Trudi Newton and Rosemary Napper offered valuable insight into how the practicalities could hang on Kudushin's model. Initially the phrase that stuck was “the supervision snake”, which brings a smile to my face as I get the image of a Snakes and Ladders board. The framework depicts a continuum of roles and processes that are available to supervision making it a practice that adapts to your personal needs to enable your transformational growth and development. It started bring three functions of supervision to life being able to name the variety of options. 

Functions in Coach Supervision
"Functions in Supervision" Newton, T. and Napper, R. (2007)

As you can see from the diagram, the continuum has “Support” and “Critique” at its extremes and an array of roles and corresponding processes in between. The authors observe that “Support” is already a function that is accepted by all in supervision, however, “Judgment” as an continuum opposite to support can make people uncomfortable. The authors introduce “Critique” as an engaging process where the coach, along with the supervisor, are able to review the task at hand of the topic brought inviting robust evidence based reflection then increases trust and intimacy. The continuum offers a view of how supervision adapts to our needs in the moment to best encourage us along our development. 

So what does this look like in real life? As coaches we will all recognise a version of the contracting questions “how do you want to use this session?” or “what is my role?”, in supervision this is also key. As a supervisee this continuum has given me ability to articulate what it is I want from my supervisor and the session when working with my presenting topic. This ensures success and value in my work and experience of the session. As a supervisor, this continuum offers me a lens to think through in helping my supervisee identify and contract what will make the session the most valuable to them. 

If you would like to explore your own points of curiosity as a coach to deepen your experience and skill, feel free to contact me,or book a free chemistry session with me now. Go to my webpage to find out more about my coach supervision services.

* Newton, T. and Napper, R. (2007) The Bigger Picture: supervision as an educational framework for all fields Transactional Analysis Journal (37:3p.151) 

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