9 Reasons Why Coaches Avoid Supervision

06 Aug 2017

As a part of our A-Z Coaching campaign Lucy Hare, coach, Barefoot course tutor and coach supervisor, explores the value of coaching supervision.

One of the things I notice when I run supervision groups is how often coaches leave at the end of the day fired up, ready to return to their businesses refreshed and re-energised. It’s made me curious about why more coaches do not attend supervision more regularly, and how we can redress that balance.

While coaching provides intense human connections, paradoxically we can also become isolated, bound by confidentiality and working alone. Supervision can give us the support and challenge we need to continue working at our best. I think many coaches mean to get supervision, but it gets squeezed out by other more alluring or lucrative calls on their time.

In this short blog I would like to have a look at the most common reasons for not showing up for supervision, and why we should be wary of missing this wonderful opportunity for growth and inspiration, after all, there is nothing quite like being in a room full of coaches. Things happen!

Before you read on…….

Take a pen and paper and write down all the reasons you have kept away from supervision in the last year. Be honest with yourself.

Now read on…..

Which of the following did you write down?


“I’ve been too busy”

Then you need it more than ever! Supervision is not an add-on to our work as coaches – it sits at the very core of our work. It should be the first thing in your diary, not the last. Other work should be built around it, both practically and professionally.


“I’m not busy enough”

Supervision can keep you going when work is quiet. If I hadn’t attended a supervision group when I first qualified, I don’t think I would be coaching now. It continued the momentum of my training and kept me connected with the coaching community.


“I can’t afford it”

Did you know that as a self-employed coach you can claim supervision costs against tax? If funds are limited find a budget-savvy way of getting what you need; a pack of Barefoot supervision cards to help you reflect, peer supervision with another coach, online groups which may be cheaper than face to face, or a trainee supervisor who is looking for volunteers. (Try contacting organisations that offer supervision training like Barefoot Coaching.) After all, you can’t really afford not to do it.


“I’m worried I might sound foolish”

This is completely normal and it is up to the supervisor to create a space of trust where coaches are able “to say the unsayable, to recognize the unthinkable” (Shohet 2008). This is the only way effective supervision can take place. It can be very reassuring to hear others bring similar issues to the session, and hugely valuable to discuss ideas together.


“I don’t know what supervision is.”

There are many definitions for supervision – but for me group supervision offers a safe place to bring our concerns, our ethical and practical issues, our questions, and our triumphs. We can ask for support or challenge, embed new learning, take time to reflect, and of course enjoy the alchemy of a group of coaches.


“I’m fine, I really don’t need it at the moment.”

Beware the three C’s! Don’t get comfortable, complacent or cozy! One of the key reasons for attending supervision is Discounting, or blind spots. We can’t see what we don’t know. Take a few minutes with your journal to reflect on exactly which sort of coach doesn’t need supervision.


“I’m just starting out, I don't need supervision yet?

I would say "Yes, you do!" Supervision reminds you that you are a coach after you leave an intensive training course. I found my own coach at a supervision group. She helped me set up my business and was a wonderful role model. Also as a new coach, you will have a freshness of approach which is invaluable to any supervision group.


“I’m a very experienced coach, so I don’t need it any more.”

Have you stopped growing as a coach? Have you stopped challenging yourself? Is that ok? We continually ask our clients to challenge themselves, to take risks and push themselves out of their comfort zones. We need to ask this of ourselves too. Being a coach demands that we always question, always reflect, always grow. Supervision can help check we are doing these.

So, which reasons did you write down on your list? What most regularly stops you coming to supervision? We owe it to our clients, our profession and ourselves to look after our professional health. So get your diary out, and book some supervision straight away. You and your clients will reap the rewards. 


Barefoot Coaching offers all coaches lifelong CPD through events and expert supervision - in groups, one-to-one and online. Find out more at www.barefootcoaching.co.uk/events-cpd-and-supervision.   

Follow Lucy Hare on twitter @LucyArtsLondon.