Mentor Coaching vs. Coaching Supervision

Article by:  Amanda Cahir-O’Donnell, M.Ed.Mgmt., B.Ed, Dip.Pers.Mgmt., FIITD, Chartered Fellow of CIPD, FAC, PCC, Accredited CSA Global Coaching Supervisor.

This article is very relevant to all ICF coaches who are interested in one-to-one development with a Mentor Coach or Coach Supervisor.  The differences between Mentor Coach and Coach Supervisor have been clarified by the ICF in the last couple of years; following a rich debate in the coaching world.  As a practicing coach, you may be wondering ‘what is the difference’ and ‘who can best support my development.’  The answer to this question very much depends on your experience as a coach and what your ultimate goal is within your coaching practice.

In brief, a Mentor Coach is defined by the ICF as someone who will provide (a) coaching for the development of one’s coaching (b) coaching for personal development and (c) coaching for business development.  A Mentor Coach is essential for you to engage with in order to progress your ICF Accreditation Journey.  For example, I engaged a Mentor Coach when I wanted to achieve my goal of becoming a PCC with the ICF.  Mentor Coaches typically focus on specific competencies that you need to develop as a coach to attain a certain level of competence.  Mentor Coaches are long established within the ICF Accreditation Framework.  Coaching Supervision is a growing trend internationally and this led to the need for the ICF to clarify the distinctions.

ICF defines Coaching Supervision as follows:  “Coaching supervision is the interaction that occurs when a coach periodically brings his or her coaching work experiences to a coaching supervisor in order to engage in reflective dialogue and collaborative learning for the development and benefit of the coach and his or her clients.”  Coaching supervision offers the more experienced coach a richer and broader opportunity for support and development.

In coaching supervision, there is a lot more focus on “who you are and how you are being with your clients in the broadest sense.”  It provides a wide-angled lens to review your coaching practice with a fellow practitioner.  I personally trained as a Coaching Supervisor with the Coaching Supervision Academy in the UK in 2014 and their ethos is as follows: “Who you are, is how you supervise/coach/lead.”  Unexpectedly, this programme had a powerful impact on me as a coach as well as training me as a Coaching Supervisor.

I was giving advice to an individual recently who has decided to train as a business coach.  My advice was this:  Once you start on the coaching journey, your own learning and development will be central to your ongoing success.  At different points, we all need Mentor Coaches or Coaching Supervisors and you need to choose what is right for you at a particular point in time.   Either way, I believe that this investment in yourself as a Coach is invaluable.