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The Key Role of the Internal Supervisor

Experiential coaching supervision presentation at the OCM CPD Event – 1st July 2010

Edna Murdoch and Miriam Orriss were delighted to be asked to conduct a coaching supervision workshop at OCM’s CPD event in July.

Overview

‘The success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener.’ Peter Senge.

The term ‘Internal Supervisor’ was coined by Patrick Casement to describe perspectives and insights that are available to practitioners as they work with clients. In essence, it is tuning into the entire range of body/mind information offering cognitive, intuitive, somatic information.

Paying attention to the Internal Supervisor provides important data, so coaches can then choose interventions that are genuinely laser-like and perfectly timed. This range of information about the coaching situation becomes available to the coach’s analytical/processing mind, which in turn decides interventions and strategies. With a well-developed Internal Supervisor, comes a major increase in Coaching Presence and powerful, impactful coaching.

On the day

It was great to be joined by 20 experienced coaches who were all interested in the concept of the internal supervisor. We briefly introduced CSA’s Full Spectrum Model, which we use throughout our coaching supervision diploma. It brings together 20th and 21st century knowledge from classic models of supervision as well as attending to the mind, body and spirit.

The Full Spectrum Model

Supervisor coach and client

The organisation field

  • Supervisor tools
  • Energy management (applied quantum physics)
  • Relationship building and sustaining tasks
  • Self-awareness and support
  • Psychological perspectives
  • Coaching/ counselling boundaries
  • Contracting and ethics
  • Systematic awareness of contexts

The economic and political climate

Blue

Thinking/perceptions

  • Quantum physics
  • Systems
  • Psychologies of:
    • Development
    • Change
    • Groups
    • Organisations
  • Sociology of:
    • Organisations

Green

Meta skills, self support, reflection

  • Energy management
  • Presence/mindfulness
  • Internal supervisor
  • Parallel process
  • Who you are is how you supervise
  • Books and articles
  • Reviews

Purple

Relationship building and sustaining tasks

  • Create working alliance
  • Support and challenge
  • Teach and develop
  • Ensure ethical and professional standards

Pink

Tools and actions

  • Psychometrics
  • Multi-party contracting
  • Arts-based approaches
  • 7-eyed model (Hawkins)
  • Developing reflective practice
  • Coaching psychology

Presence

The role of the internal supervisor starts with embodied presence and which creates the space for paying full attention to data  and to the coachee. This is achieved by not doing anything, something that is often counter to the traditional role of the coach. Instead this is about being very centred and reflective.

We asked the participants to work in pairs but not to interact, just to concentrate on being there. While it can be uncomfortable initially this is the place from which powerful conversations occur.
The feedback on this simple exercise was that it’s an immensely useful practice that can be immediately applied.

Preparation for conversations

A lot of coaching training focuses on tasks, models, tools, and working to contracts. There is much less training on the being side, which in our mind is a precondition for accessing the wisdom of the internal supervisor.

To help coaches we worked with the Senge Theory U map and how to come into presence. This includes seeing from where you are, seeing from the heart and seeing from the whole. By moving into a place of presence we demonstrated to participants how they can crystallise the thoughts, images and ideas that occur during coaching and how these are valuable in achieving both insight and action during the coaching session.

The internal supervisor gathers data in three ways. Cognitive information looks at the application of training, skills and models. This is the thinking part of the coaching process. Somatic information is what you feel in your body. It might be the tightness in your chest, discomfort and it can also be counter-transference. Brought into this is what we’ve learned from biofield science and neuro-cardiology, which explains how the heart contains 65% of the same neurons as our brains, and how to bring the heart into alignment with the brain. Intuitive information includes images that arise during sessions and is also supported by understanding the work of Dr Konstantin Korotkov, who has researched how energy is transferred –  including what you might feel, taste, hear etc.

Turning into interventions

To help participants turn these three aspects of the internal supervisor into interventions, we broke back into pairs with a coaching session each way. We asked the coach to stop and reflect, not on their effect on the other person, but on how the practice session was for them. One person experienced images and metaphors that previously would have been dismissed but instead made for a powerful intervention.

Internal supervisor demonstration

To end the workshop, Edna worked with a member from the group. The central image that emerged was one of a coachee being tethered and not flying. This proved to be a powerful image that really enhanced the coaching session.

Feedback

At the end of the workshop the feedback we received was that the coaching sessions, although short practice ones, had a feeling of spaciousness and silence. We discussed how words should only be the connectors between silences. Preparation for presence also allows spaciousness in your work, which leaves everyone feeling refreshed and reenergised, even though the topics discussed can often be deep and sometimes challenging.

Another aspect of feedback was that some of the interventions were not complete sentences as they were part of a shared intuitive conversation between the supervisor and the coach. This highlighted the role of supervisor as enquirer rather than as the expert. By noticing your own processes you can distil them into something that’s very live and in the moment. The internal supervisor will help condense both the spoken and unspoken into deep and powerful interventions.

We felt very privileged to be so warmly welcomed by the OCM and to be allowed to share our work on such a wonderful platform.

Edna Murdoch, Miriam Orriss  Directors, CSA.  2010

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