Towards a Practice Framework
We have blogged before about the idea of a practice framework. Here we take the idea a little further.
Supervision sessions often start with the question ‘What do you want to bring to supervision today?’ That frequently leads to a review of, and learning from, the coach’s current practice, fulfilling either, or both, of the formative and restorative functions of supervision (see note below).
However, we believe that there is an element that is often missing: a review of the coach's practice framework: that is to say, all aspects of being a good coach. So we have developed a model practice framework and, over a series of supervisory sessions, we ensure that the coach has reviewed all elements of this, from initial chemistry and contracting meetings to final closure and evaluation; as well as the necessary over-arching disciplines, such as a clear ethical policy. This supports the coach’s CPD as well as ensuring that we fully address the normative function of supervision: developing and adhering to the very best professional standards (see note below).
The practice framework can be used in a number of ways. Many of the elements may come up in the course of reviewing the coach’s current practice. For example, if a coach is in a tricky situation, as well as discussing the options for resolving it, the supervisor would encourage the coach to think about whether better initial contracting would have prevented the problem from arising.
With the practice framework in mind, the supervisor could then record that this aspect of the coach’s practice had been the subject of inquiry during supervision; and that is excellent. Periodically, the supervisor and the coach can then review the framework, and identify any topics that have not yet been explored in supervision, and put them on the agenda.
That reduces the risk of any collusion by the supervisor of avoiding talking about certain issues, simply because the coach never raises them. It will also reassure the coach (and the coach’s organisation, if applicable) that the supervision will be a robust process that will help the coach to develop all aspects of the coach’s professional practice.
Another way of using the framework is to encourage coaches to develop their own practice frameworks. That of course may provoke deeper consideration and learning about what they believe that they are doing when coaching at their best. The supervisor might then share this framework so that the two can be compared: ideally the coaches’ own frameworks will cover everything in this one – even though they may be conceptualised and articulated very differently. But having a model for comparison might both reassure the coaches of the quality of their own frameworks, and also raise for discussion any differences, that could be usefully explored.
Such an approach, of course, could well enrich this framework also; so we imagine updating this from time to time as our coaches teach us what else we should be adding to it.
Formative, restorative and normative are Proctor’s labels for the three classic functions of Supervision. Formative is the educational and developmental aspect; restorative is processing the emotional issues that coaching may stimulate; and normative is about adherence to standards and good practice.
Proctor, Brigid, (1988) Supervision: a cooperative exercise in accountability, quoted in Hawkins and Shohet, Supervision in the Helping Professions, Open University Press (2006).