If you’re looking to become a coaching supervisor, you’ll need to choose a good training course.
Just as you did when you first trained as a coach, you will want to ensure it not only delivers the skills and knowledge you need but also gives you the right accreditation, support and community.
However, entering a new profession, even if one closely associated with your existing one of coaching, can prove daunting. The accreditations are different, the core building blocks of knowledge and skills new, and,most probably, the methods of delivery have changed since your early coach training.
In this short and to-the-point article, we aim to lay out the key elements that you need to look out for, clarifying the coaching supervision training field so that you can make an informed decision about where to train.
We will cover:
- Curriculum and content
- Client work
- In-Person or virtual learning
- Entry requirements
- Peer group and networking opportunities
In each case, we will also briefly describe the ICCS details of the element under discussion..
Just as with coaching, it is essential to select an accredited programme to ensure that the training meets the profession’s high standards and that your certification will be recognised by clients and coaching bodies post-completion.
Whilst coaching accreditation is dominated by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), they are far less present in the field of coaching supervision. Indeed, they have yet to recognise supervision training as a distinct discipline and only provide Continuing Coach Education related to coaching skills and credentials.
Instead, the main accrediting body in the coaching supervision field is the European Mentoring and Coaching Council which provides accreditation of training in the form of the European Supervision Quality Award (ESQA).
It would be fair to say that the ESQA is the gold standard for coaching supervision accreditation and we would recommend that whatever course you choose, you ensure that it has this stamp of quality.
That said, in recent years, the Association of Coaching has also launched its own accreditation scheme for coaching supervision training.
Accreditation of the ICCS coaching supervision course
We chose to have our course accredited by all three of the accrediting associations and we are one of only two to have done so.
Our course is both EMCC ESQA and AC ADCST.
In addition, recognising that many experienced coaches who choose to become coaching supervisors are also ICF credentialed, our course is accredited for the maximum number of CCE hours that any single course can obtain from the ICF.
- Look for accreditation from recognised bodies such as the International Coach Federation (ICF), European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), or Association for Coaching (AC).
Curriculum and Content
It is beyond the scope of an article like this to go into the minutiae of what a course should or could cover, but we can lay out the key elements that we believe must be covered.
These would be:
- The 3 core functions of coaching supervision (normative, formative, restorative)
- Intervention styles (for instance Heron’s 6 Categories)
- The 7 Eyed Model of Supervision
- Ethics and ethical maturity
- Psychodynamic aspects of supervision and coaching
- Psychological and theoretical perspectives on coaching to work with coaches from multiple stances
- Group supervision – theoretical and practical
- Contracting and the supervisory relationship
- Navigating difference and cross-cultural supervision
There may, of course, be many other areas beyond this, but we believe these are the critical cornerstones that will allow a coach to stretch beyond merely coaching the coach to supervising the coach.
Review the programme’s curriculum to ensure it covers key components of effective coaching supervision, including ethical considerations, reflective practice, and skill development.
The best programmes offer a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical application, providing opportunities to practice coaching supervision skills through role-plays, case studies, and supervised practice sessions.
The ICCS Curriculum
It would take too long to cover the ICCS curriculum here but suffice to say it covers all these areas and more. You can find the full course breakdown on our Diploma in Coaching Supervision page.
A critical component of becoming a coaching supervisor is gaining real-life experience.
Unlike some field of knowledge, supervision is not something that can be learned and mastered from a book or by listening to a trainer.
It must be practised.
Be sure that any course you choose requires a certain amount of real-life (that is to say, not in the training room) supervision practice with clients.
The ICCS Practice Requirements
Recognising that supervision is something that happens less frequently than coaching, and thus can be slower to build experience in, we ask our participants to complete 25 hours of coaching supervision experience.
This then averages out as about 3 hours a month over the 8 months which is more than realistic to accomplish yet provides enough real-life experience to gain the necessary skills.
In-Person or Virtual
It is likely that most coaches, with the level of experience needed to become a coaching supervisor, would have undertaken their coach training in person.
Times have changed, of course, and now it is more likely that any training you do will be online.
This is even more so the case with coaching supervision given its international appeal and the fact that its rarefied level of experience means schools like ICCS attract highly-experienced coaches from across the world as students.
Thus, a critical first question to answer for yourself is whether you wish to train in person or online.
In-person courses are less common now and the state of online learning through Zoom is so normal that participants enjoy a fully immersive experience without having to travel long distances and stay in expensive hotels. This is even more important for international participants, the majority of whom never had access to supervision training in their own country.
Of course, in-person has certain interpersonal advantages – the chats over coffee, the more visceral human experience during a practice session, and so on – but many schools now find ways to create similar atmospheres in their online courses.
Ultimately, of course, this is a matter of preference, and availability, for you.
The ICCS Virtual Approach
Although our course originally started as an in-person course in 2016, we had the advantage of rebuilding the course from scratch in 2020 since we’d taken a two year hiatus from 2018.
This meant that instead of simply taking an existing structure online we designed it to be native to the virtual environment with more but shorter sessions to avoid screen burnout and to allow for more focused learning on specific themes.
Our course involves 20 sessions of 3.5 hours, 5 smaller Reflective Practice Groups, and one to one mentoring, all delivered virtually.
We have found the timing and frequency to work brilliantly to maintain momentum in shorter bursts rather than multiple days of heavy with large gaps between modules.
You can find the full course breakdown on our Diploma in Coaching Supervision page.
The next thing to look for in the course is the quality of the faculty.
Thankfully, the coaching supervision field is not one in which you can fake it!
Whilst, in the early days of coaching, often inexperienced coaches (qualified or not) would set up their own training course, this does not work in coaching supervision where proven experience and high-level accreditation is a critical component.
The distinction one might look for in a faculty teaching supervision is more around current practical experience versus legacy experience.
We believe that it is important that those training coaching supervision are still active in the field.
Indeed, it is why our own founder, Nick Bolton, no longer teaches on the programme since he “retired” from active coaching and supervision practice some years ago to focus on growing his group of schools.
Our approach is to bring in active experts who are face the reality of coaching and supervision work as it is today with all the changes our professions are going through.
Of course, they must be qualified as coaches and coaching supervisors but, quite frankly, this really goes without saying!
The ICCS Faculty
Each of our faculty is active and supervising and coaching multiple clients personally, within organisation or both.
We enjoy of a mix of corporate and executive coaches, personal coaches and therapist coaches, each of whom bring their unique experience to the learning,
See you full faculty here.
An interesting area to explore when choosing a coaching supervision course is the level of experience required to join the programme.
In recent months, we have had several conversations with highly-experienced coaches who were asked about the experience level of the other participants.
This is understandable. With the best will in the world, a coach with 2000+ hours of experience wants to be mixing with coaches of a similar experience not due to unwarranted judgment but simply because of the quality and depth of the discussions that are likely to ensue.
Some renowned coaching supervision courses only require 100 hours of coaching experience which is barely enough to become ACC with the ICF. As much as we don’t want to promote exclusivity for its own sake, we do believe that the supervision profession must be served by us as trainers. We act, for good or bad, as gatekeepers to the profession and we believe that the entry requirement should see that a coach has sufficient experience to really work in a supervisory capacity.
Other aspects to consider is whether you will need to be part of a professional association, the nature of the coaching qualification you undertook and any specifications for CPD you have taken.
It is essential to evaluate these criteria and determine if the programme aligns with your current qualifications and experience.
The ICCS Entry Requirement
When it comes to the experience level to become a coaching supervisor, we recognise that any number is always going to be arbitrary.
That said, it is vital the school has a criteria.
For us that number is 500 hours.
Some may argue that it should be higher, some lower.
Indeed, we are flexible on this to a degree, especially when the coach who wishes to become a coaching supervisor has a clear and compelling reason to do so and a context in which they can do the work. In those cases, we consider we would be doing a disservice to not allow them to train with us.
Beyond this, we deal with applicants on a case by case basis when it comes to their coaching qualifications – often experienced coaches started their coaching before full courses were even developed.
We do not require coaches to be members of professional associations.
Peer group and networking opportunities
An often forgotten aspect of joining a course is the extent to which you will engage with and connect to your peers in that community.
We believe this is a vital part of any learning and, indeed, this seems to be born out by evidence given the poor completion rate of online learning undertaken by an individual in their own time and by themselves.
Of course, any live training programme will likely involve you learning with a group (unless it is done in a webinar format, but this is improbable in the coaching supervision field).
However, beyond the formal training, we would recommend you choose a programme that offers peer networking opportunities to help stay motivated and connected to your choice to become a coaching supervisor. This may include a community of practice, additional learning opportunities, post-qualification supervision and so on.
The ICCS Community Network
Community has always been a part of how we run our training and it is no different with the Diploma in Coaching Supervision.
After joining our programme, you will immediately join our ICCS Community where we offer additional free workshops and lifelong supervision as well as a forum to get to know one another.
Most coaching supervision courses will last somewhere between 6 to 12 months and we believe this is a reasonable time frame to learn and develop the skills you need to a level of competence that can be certified.
We have heard of courses that are a day or two long but these do not lead to accreditation or any kind of certification beyond, perhaps, CPD status.
Whatever you do, be sure that the course you join is long enough to embed the skills at depth. Supervision is a practical, relational skill rather than merely a theoretical one that can be learned quickly.
The ICCS Duration
We have designed our course across 8 months with a qualification time frame of one year. This allows plenty of time to gain the necessary skills and experience without leaving it open-ended with the consequent drift and never-ending nature of the qualification that can result from this.
This is an easy one – well, in theory, at least!
What does the course cost, can you afford it and does it offer you the value you require for that fee.
If the course is virtual then the costs will be the course plus and reading material.
If the course is in-person, you might need to factor in additional expenses, such as travel, accommodation, and even time of work.
In the end, this one is down to you and what feels OK for you. A high-price course is not necessarily better but a low price course is not necessarily good! Weigh up the benefits looking at all the factors above.
The ICCS Cost
You can find the course fee on our Diploma in Coaching Supervision page.
Researching Your Course
Here are a few steps you can take when researching your course option.
- Research multiple programmes to ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of the available options.
- Gather information from various sources, such as online resources, reviews, and recommendations from your professional network.
- Attend information sessions and webinars to learn more about the programme’s offerings and ask any questions you may have.
- Have a conversation with a course consultant, or equivalent, from each school and see who resonates with you.
- Reach out to programme alumni to gather feedback on their experiences and the overall effectiveness of the training.
Selecting the right coaching supervision training course is a critical decision that can significantly impact your professional growth and success.
By considering the factors discussed in this article, you can make an informed choice that will lead to a rewarding and fulfilling career in coaching supervision.
Keep in mind that investing in a quality coaching supervision training programme can yield long-term benefits and help you become a more effective and well-rounded supervisor.
With the right training, you will be well-equipped to support other coaches in their development and contribute to the overall advancement of the coaching profession.
Whether you choose ICCS or another coaching supervision school, we wish you well on your new journey.