Integrating Mindfulness into Coaching Supervision

Mindfulness in Coaching Supervision

Integrating Mindfulness into Coaching Supervision


Mindfulness has played a part in coaching for several years now with a number of books on the topic attesting to its popularity in the coaching profession.  

It is less frequently considered in terms of its use in coaching supervision.

I believe it can make a significant contribution to supervision and in this article I set out to explore practical ways of integrating mindfulness practices into supervision sessions.

Before we explore the role of mindfulness in supervision, however, let’s take a quick look at where it came from and some of its practices and assumptions.

From there we’ll take a look at some practical ways to use mindfulness as well as what can get in the way of its successful integration.

A Brief History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness, with roots in ancient Buddhist meditation, has gained significant recognition in modern psychological practice. 

Its journey from its origins in Buddhism to its current status as a widely-accepted psychological practice can be largely attributed to the pioneering work of Jon Kabat-Zinn. 

Kabat-Zinn, a molecular biologist by training, became interested in the potential of mindfulness meditation to alleviate suffering and enhance well-being after attending a meditation retreat led by Zen teacher Seung Sahn.

In 1979, Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Here, he developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, an eight-week course designed to teach mindfulness meditation to patients with chronic pain and stress-related disorders. MBSR combined traditional Buddhist mindfulness practices with elements of Western psychology and medicine, providing a secular and accessible approach to mindfulness that could be integrated into mainstream healthcare settings.

Kabat-Zinn’s work on MBSR sparked a surge of interest in the scientific community, leading to a growing body of empirical research investigating the effects of mindfulness meditation on various aspects of physical and psychological well-being. 

His seminal book, “Full Catastrophe Living” (1990), further popularised mindfulness, detailing the MBSR program and providing practical guidance for cultivating mindfulness in everyday life.

Following the success of MBSR, other mindfulness-based interventions emerged, such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), developed by Zindel Segal, John Teasdale, and Mark Williams. MBCT integrated mindfulness practices with cognitive-behavioural therapy techniques, demonstrating effectiveness in preventing relapse in individuals with recurrent depression (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002).

The adoption of mindfulness practices in Western psychology can be seen as a testament to the pioneering efforts of Jon Kabat-Zinn and other researchers who recognizsed the potential of ancient Buddhist teachings to address modern psychological challenges. 

Through their work, mindfulness has been transformed from a spiritual practice to a widely accepted, evidence-based approach that continues to shape the fields of mental health, coaching, and professional development.

Some Key Mindful Practices

Mindfulness refers to the non-judgmental awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the present moment. 

This mental state can be achieved through various practices, each with its unique approach to cultivating mindfulness.

Mindful breathing

This foundational practice involves focusing on one’s breath as it flows in and out of the body. By directing attention to the breath, practitioners can anchor themselves in the present moment, allowing thoughts and emotions to come and go without judgement. This practice can be performed sitting, standing, or lying down, and helps to develop concentration and calmness.

Body scan meditation

This practice encourages individuals to systematically bring their attention to different parts of the body, from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. By doing so, they can become more aware of bodily sensations and develop a deeper connection with their physical selves. This heightened body awareness can contribute to stress reduction and relaxation.

Loving-kindness meditation

Also known as “metta” meditation, this practice involves generating feelings of love and compassion for oneself and others. By repeating phrases such as “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe,” practitioners cultivate an attitude of kindness and empathy, leading to improved emotional regulation and interpersonal relationships.

Walking meditation

This form of mindfulness practice involves being fully present and attentive to one’s body and surroundings while walking. By focusing on each step, the movement of the body, and the sensation of contact between the feet and the ground, individuals can experience a deeper sense of connection with the present moment and their environment.

Mindful eating

This practice involves paying close attention to the experience of eating, such as the taste, texture, and smell of food, as well as the feelings of hunger and fullness. Mindful eating can help individuals develop a healthier relationship with food, enhance the enjoyment of meals, and reduce overeating or emotional eating.

Mindfulness and Non-Attachment

A core principle of mindfulness is that of non-attachment.  

This refers to the ability to observe one’s thoughts and emotions without becoming overly identified or attached to them. It is often described as the opposite of clinging to experiences or desires, allowing individuals to experience a sense of spaciousness and freedom from mental and emotional attachments.

Non-attachment is rooted in Buddhist philosophy, where it is considered a crucial component of the path to liberation from suffering. In Buddhist psychology, attachment is viewed as the root cause of suffering, as it leads to a constant cycle of craving and aversion that creates emotional turbulence and distress.

In mindfulness practice, non-attachment involves observing thoughts and emotions as they arise, without getting swept up, or becoming attached to, them. This requires cultivating an attitude of curiosity and openness towards one’s experience, rather than trying to control or avoid it. By developing this ability to observe experiences without attachment or judgement, individuals can cultivate greater self-awareness, acceptance, and equanimity.

Non-attachment is often misunderstood as a call for emotional detachment or disconnection from experiences. However, non-attachment does not mean being indifferent or uncaring towards one’s experience, but rather cultivating a sense of non-reactivity and non-judgment towards it. Non-attachment can help individuals approach their experiences with greater clarity and balance, leading to enhanced emotional regulation, resilience, and well-being.

Summary of Mindfulness

Practising mindfulness has been associated with various benefits, such as enhanced self-awareness, emotional regulation, reduced stress and burnout, and improved concentration and decision-making. 

These practices provide individuals with tools to navigate the complexities of daily life, fostering greater well-being and resilience. By integrating mindfulness into coaching supervision, both supervisors and coaches can reap these benefits, enhancing their professional practice and personal growth.

Integrating Mindfulness in Coaching Supervision

The integration of mindfulness in coaching supervision can serve multiple purposes. 

Firstly, it strengthens the supervisory alliance by fostering trust, openness, and empathy. 

Secondly, it promotes reflective practice by encouraging coaches to be present, non-judgmental, and curious about their experiences. 

Lastly, it enhances self-care for both supervisors and coaches by facilitating stress reduction and emotional regulation.

Integrating Mindful Practices in Coaching Supervision

Several mindfulness techniques and practices can be applied in coaching supervision, each contributing uniquely to the supervisory process. 

These practices can be adapted to suit the needs and preferences of individual coaches and supervisors, providing a personalised approach to mindfulness integration.

  1. Focused breathing: Incorporating focused breathing exercises at the beginning, middle, or end of coaching supervision sessions can create a sense of calm and focus for both supervisors and coaches. This practice encourages presence and attentiveness, enabling participants to engage more deeply in discussions, reflections, and problem-solving.
  2. Body scanning: Supervisors can introduce body scanning exercises to help coaches develop greater self-awareness and attunement to their physical and emotional states. By becoming more in tune with their bodily sensations, coaches can gain insights into how their emotions and thoughts manifest physically, allowing them to address these aspects more effectively during supervision sessions.
  3. Mindful listening and communication: Mindful listening involves being fully present and attentive while another person speaks, without judgement or interruption. Supervisors can model and encourage mindful listening during sessions, fostering a supportive and empathetic environment where coaches feel heard and understood. Mindful communication, on the other hand, involves expressing thoughts and feelings with clarity and non-judgmental awareness. Developing these skills can enhance the quality of dialogue and feedback during coaching supervision sessions.
  4. Mindful reflection and journaling: Supervisors can encourage coaches to engage in mindful reflection by asking open-ended questions that prompt exploration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judgement. This practice can help coaches gain deeper insights into their work with clients, as well as their own personal growth and development. Journaling can be incorporated as a complementary tool, providing coaches with a space to document their reflections and track their progress over time.
  5. It should be said that the coaching supervision can, of course, do all of these practices for themselves too, allowing greater access to their own feelings and experiences which add to their ability to use themselves as part of the supervisory system (the Eye 6 of the 7 Eyed Model).

By integrating these mindfulness practices into coaching supervision, supervisors can create an environment that fosters deeper self-awareness, emotional regulation, and reflective practice for both themselves and their coaches. 

These techniques can enhance the overall effectiveness of coaching supervision, resulting in more meaningful and productive sessions that support the ongoing professional development of coaches.

Non-Attachment in Coaching Supervision

Non-attachment can also be used as an approach within coaching supervision to cultivate a more mindful and compassionate supervisory relationship, and to support coaches in developing their own non-attachment skills.

Cultivating a mindful and compassionate supervisory relationship: 

Non-attachment can help supervisors approach coaching supervision with a sense of openness, curiosity, and non-judgment. By cultivating a mindful and compassionate supervisory relationship, supervisors can create a supportive and non-threatening environment for coaches to explore their experiences and challenges. They can encourage coaches to approach their coaching practice with a non-judgmental and curious mindset, promoting a more collaborative and growth-oriented approach to coaching.

Supporting coaches in developing their non-attachment skills

Supervisors can also use non-attachment as a guiding principle when supporting coaches in developing their own non-attachment skills. They can encourage coaches to develop a more mindful and observant attitude towards their thoughts, emotions, and experiences, without becoming overly attached to them. Supervisors can help coaches explore their experiences with a sense of curiosity and acceptance, rather than judgement or criticism.

Encouraging self-reflection

Self-reflection is an important aspect of developing non-attachment skills. Supervisors can encourage coaches to reflect on their experiences and explore their emotional responses to challenging situations without becoming overly attached to them. By doing so, coaches can develop greater self-awareness and emotional regulation skills, which can help them approach their coaching practice with a more non-judgmental and equanimous mindset.

Incorporating non-attachment as an approach within coaching supervision can help coaches develop their mindfulness skills, enhance their emotional regulation and resilience, and promote a more collaborative and growth-oriented coaching practice. By cultivating a more mindful and compassionate supervisory relationship, supervisors can create a supportive and non-judgmental environment for coaches to explore their experiences and challenges.

Overcoming Barriers to Mindfulness Integration

To integrate mindfulness practices into coaching supervision effectively, it is important to prepare the environment  by creating a comfortable physical and emotional space. In addition, where necessary, contracting for the approach the supervisor is taking. Supervisors should introduce mindfulness practices to coaches by clarifying objectives and expectations, providing resources and guidance.

Nonetheless, supervisees might struggle with some parts of mindfulness despite recognising its benefits.

To address the barriers associated with integrating mindfulness into coaching supervision, supervisors can adopt several strategies to enhance the acceptance and effectiveness of mindfulness practices. 

Specifically, they can provide evidence-based information about mindfulness, seek permission, accommodate different learning preferences, and manage time effectively by incorporating short, focused mindfulness exercises within sessions.

Providing evidence-based information about mindfulness

Supervisors can present coaches with empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of mindfulness practices to counter scepticism and misconceptions. Studies have demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness for stress reduction, emotional regulation, and improved cognitive functioning (see below for list of references). By sharing peer-reviewed research and reputable sources, supervisors can foster greater trust in the value of incorporating mindfulness into coaching supervision.

Seek permission

A risk with mindfulness is that the practitioner, in this case the coaching supervisor, may (ironically) become over-attached to mindfulness as a solution and proceed to use it without gaining the supervisee’s permission.  This can be seen when a supervisor attempts to “ground” a supervisee at the stare of a session by asking them to take some deep breaths.  Without permission and agreement, the can be counterproductive and make it harder to reap the benefits of mindfulness.

Accommodating different learning preferences

Coaches may have diverse learning preferences and styles, which can impact their receptiveness to mindfulness practices. 

To address this, supervisors can offer a variety of mindfulness exercises, allowing coaches to explore and select practices that resonate with their preferences. For instance, some coaches may prefer movement-based mindfulness practices (e.g., walking meditation or yoga), while others may find greater value in stillness-based practices (e.g., focused breathing or body scanning). 

Supervisors can also adapt their instructional methods, such as providing visual aids, audio recordings, or written materials to cater to different learning styles.

Managing time effectively

Time constraints can be a significant barrier to incorporating mindfulness practices into coaching supervision sessions. 

To help with this, supervisors can integrate short, focused mindfulness exercises that can be easily incorporated into existing session structures. 

For example, a 3-minute focused breathing exercise at the beginning of a session can help set the tone for presence and attentiveness without requiring substantial time investment. 

Additionally, supervisors can encourage coaches to practise mindfulness independently, outside of sessions, and provide support in developing a sustainable, time-efficient mindfulness routine.

Assessing the Impact of Mindfulness Practices

Evaluating the effectiveness of mindfulness integration is crucial for refining and adjusting practices. However, assessing its impact on coaching supervision can be challenging since it involves subjective experiences and outcomes that can vary widely between individual coaches and supervisors. 

However, there are several ways that a supervisor can assess the impact of mindfulness on coaching supervision, including:

Gathering feedback from coaches

One of the most direct ways to assess the impact of mindfulness on coaching supervision is to gather feedback from coaches who have incorporated mindfulness practices into their coaching practice. 

This can be done through regular check-ins, surveys, or focus groups, where coaches can provide their perspectives on the benefits and challenges of incorporating mindfulness into their coaching practice, and how it has impacted their professional development.

Monitoring changes in coaching practice 

Another way to assess the impact of mindfulness on coaching supervision is to monitor changes in coaches’ coaching practice over time. 

This can involve tracking changes in their coaching style, approach, or effectiveness, and identifying any changes that may be attributed to the incorporation of mindfulness practices. 

Supervisors can observe coaches in coaching sessions or review recorded coaching sessions to identify any changes or improvements in their coaching practice.

Using validated measures

There are several validated measures available that can be used to assess the impact of mindfulness on well-being, emotional regulation, and cognitive functioning. 

Supervisors can use these measures to assess changes in coaches’ mental health, stress levels, or cognitive functioning, before and after incorporating mindfulness practices into their coaching practice. 

Examples of validated measures include the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ).

Comparing with other coaching supervision approaches

Finally, supervisors can compare the impact of mindfulness on coaching supervision with other coaching supervision approaches, such as traditional or cognitive-behavioural approaches. 

This can involve identifying differences in outcomes or effectiveness between coaches who have incorporated mindfulness practices into their coaching practice and those who have not. 

By comparing the impact of mindfulness with other approaches, supervisors can gain a deeper understanding of the potential benefits and limitations of incorporating mindfulness practices into coaching supervision.


Integrating mindfulness practices into coaching supervision offers numerous benefits, including enhanced self-awareness, reflective practice, and self-care. Supervisors and coaches are encouraged to explore and adopt mindfulness practices as part of their professional development. 

As the field of coaching supervision continues to evolve, mindfulness practices are likely to play an increasingly important role in fostering growth and enhancing the effectiveness of coaching supervision.



These resources cover a range of topics related to mindfulness, including its theoretical foundations, practical applications, and benefits for well-being, as well as specific guidance on incorporating mindfulness into coaching and supervisory contexts. By exploring these references, supervisors and coaches can deepen their understanding of mindfulness and its potential to enhance professional practice and personal growth.

Author Details
Nick is the founder and CEO of the International Centre for Coaching Supervision and Animas Centre for Coaching. Along with his love of coaching and supervision, he is a a passionate learner with a fascination for philosophy, psychology and sociology.
Nick is the founder and CEO of the International Centre for Coaching Supervision and Animas Centre for Coaching. Along with his love of coaching and supervision, he is a a passionate learner with a fascination for philosophy, psychology and sociology.
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