Updated: Sep 7, 2022
I've recently started to offer group supervision. I started with a self-forming group who had similar goals/needs, and now also offer drop in group supervision where we might explore whatever is on participants’ minds, or a particular them, for example, effective contracting.
My original motivation to offer group supervision was that it would be cost effective for participants. Although participants get less individual airtime, there’s a benefit to group supervision that you can’t replicate in one to one sessions.
As a supervisor, I get to hear (lots!!) about other coaches experiences, concerns, dilemmas, dreams, lessons etc.... . I personally get immense value from this, and it supports my own personal and professional development as a coach.
We often work in isolation as coaches, and this can lead to us feel uncertain about what we do and how we do it. I consider myself really lucky to be able to reflect on my own practice with full insight of what other coaches are experiencing in their practice.
So the additional benefit of group supervision is that participants get to hear and share best practice, bumps in the road, doubts, fears and successes with each other! This 'normalisation' is really helpful to me personally, and I'm sure to others who engage with group coaching.
Leon Festinger proposed Social Comparison Theory in 1954, with the main premise being that people use comparison to others to evaluate themselves, and that this helps us to form our identity and understand our place in the world.
Although Theodore Roosevelt said that “Comparison is the thief of joy”, comparison is essential in establishing benchmarks by which we can evaluate how we’re doing.
Think about what you know about yourself. How would you know if you were kind, compassionate, confident, empathetic (or not) if you lived on a desert island where you had no contact at all with other human beings? We rely on comparison to others to accurately assess our traits, abilities and attitudes.
Festinger said that we have an innate drive to evaluate ourselves, and it’s often useful to understand how or what others are doing in order to be able to do satisfy that drive.
In the context of coaching practice, I’ve found that group supervision provides a safe environment where we can share, learn from each other, be inspired, gain confidence, and realise that the questions or doubts that we have about ourselves and/or our practice are more common than we think!