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Narrative Coaching and Supervision

Why Narrative Coaching and supervision?

Essentially supervision is reflective practice as is Narrative Coaching (NC). Both have an interest in and focus on the individual as a coach.


People attracted to NC often characterised by deep personal commitment to personal and professional development.


Basic connections between NC and possible topics for supervision


Stories about myself as coach impact on:

  • my presence and my connection with clients

  • my ability to be compassionate and candid

  • the coaching conversations that trigger my anxiety, memories or shadow

Stories I tell myself about my coaching:

  • impact on what I hear and notice about my client and their stories

  • inhibit my ability to fully notice the how and what in my client’s stories that binds them to their current situation, reflects their values and hold the seeds of future change

  • reflect alignment between values and aspirations as a coach – especially as and when the coach has to deal with the realities and ethical dilemmas of self-employment or being a contractor or employee.


Hay (2007; 4-5) referred to super-vision “ … the process of helping you step back, metaphorically, from your work so you can take a meta-perspective …” i.e. perspective on the field and supporting development using analysis and supported personal development. An NC approach can clearly provide and support super- vision.


To unpack that further, it is useful to use 3 P’s of coaching Philosophy, Purpose and Process as described by Peter Jackson and Tatiana Bachkirova.¹


Philosophy

NC focuses the coach and the coaching on the inner world. This reflects NC’s person-centred and psychological approach to coaching with the related noticing of the impact of shame and the shadow. The value of a connection between supervision and NC is illustrated by Patrick Hobbs’s comment about the need for supervisors to be aware of and sensitive to shame. He states “…if a coach comes from a paradigm that has little time for failure or any thinking that is not seen as positive, where will they take their failures and their struggles?” ² NC offers a powerful pathway for such deeper coach introspection and development.


Purpose

I believe the purpose of supervision is to develop self-awareness and self-management as a coach within the context / system chosen to coach. The adage “who you are is how you coach” signals the need to be integrate and align ‘me as person’ with ‘me as coach’. There is also an ethical / integrity aspect to supervision which arises from opening one’s usually solo practice, to external scrutiny. Therefore the purpose of an NC approach to super-vision is to provide a reflective space with an experienced practitioner to explore and expand deep personal and professional enhancers and inhibitors to their full presence including ethical, systemic and developmental aspects of being a coach.


Using an NC approach also provides a pathway to address an issue raised by Patrick Hobbs about an aspect of the ICF competencies³ that ‘part of the challenge for coaches and supervisors is to find their own way of living and working with the recognition that we can be both wounded, confused and resourceful.


Supervision also has a role in facilitating the coach cross a threshold from one place of knowing and understanding of self to another deeper place. This construct has a spiritual dimension i.e. accessing a higher self or way of being with greater meaning for the person.


Process

The NC approach is useful for supervision. Serious play, silence and deep introspection are powerful in both coaching and supervision.


The NC model of Situate, Search, Shift and Sustain is totally transferable to and useful for supervision. Specifically in the supervision process, the 4 phases of NC could mean that in:

  • Situate: the student observes and reflects about WHAT IS in their current coaching

  • Search: what might they explore to coach differently, WHAT IF they could experiment new approaches?

  • Shift: WHAT MATTERS for them and for the client? What might they need to try out next? How can they change their approach to deepen their awareness or their coaching impact?

  • Sustain: WHAT WORKS in their new experiment that they could make sustainable?

NC focuses the coach and coaching to the inner world. This reflects NC’s person-centred and psychological approach to coaching with the related noticing of the impact of shame and the shadow. The value of a connection between supervision and NC is illustrated by Patrick Hobbs’s comment about the need for supervisors to be aware of and sensitive to shame. He states “…if a coach comes from a paradigm that has little time for failure or any thinking that is not seen as positive, where will they take their failures and their struggles?” ⁴ NC offers a powerful pathway for such deeper coach introspection and development.


Supervision can support the coach cross a threshold from one place of knowing and understanding of self to another deeper place. This construct has a spiritual dimension i.e. accessing a higher self or way of being with greater meaning for the person i.e. the focus for NR. It would be useful to explore further this connection.




References

Turner, Eve and Palmer, Stephen (Editors) 2019 The Heart of Coaching Supervision Routledge

Birch, Jo and Welch, Peter (Editors) Coaching Supervision - Advancing Practice, Changing Landscapes 2019 Routledge

 

¹ Chapter 2 Turner, Eve and Palmer, Stephen (Editors) 2019 The Heart of Coaching Supervision Routledge


² P76 Chapter 5 Working in the Shadows Patrick Hobbs / Birch, Jo and Welch, Peter (Editors) Coaching Supervision - Advancing Practice, Changing Landscapes 2019 Routledge


³ P84 Chapter 5 Working in the Shadows Patrick Hobbs / Birch, Jo and Welch, Peter (Editors) Coaching Supervision - Advancing Practice, Changing Landscapes 2019 Routledge


P76 Chapter 5 Working in the Shadows Patrick Hobbs / Birch, Jo and Welch, Peter (Editors) Coaching Supervision - Advancing Practice, Changing Landscapes 2019 Routledge



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