Coaching Supervision : Case-study

Catherine was supervising a quite experienced independent coach who had formed a warm and supportive relationship with a client whom she was coaching. In the most recent session this client had expressed feelings of great anxiety about being put in charge of a particularly challenging project. The coach felt a ready concern and sympathy for the client, who was often 'put upon' at work, and encouraged him to renegotiate the boundaries around his responsibility for the project in order to share the load more equally.

Whilst Catherine felt that this was sound advice, she also felt that the coach - who had a tendency to see things in somewhat 'black or white' terms - was not picking up her client's mixed feelings about the project. Although the client felt overloaded, there was likely to be a part of him that quite relished being the lynchpin of the project which was after all a powerful position to be in.

In Catherine's view, the coach's difficulties in being fully in touch with her own ambitious, dominating feelings were getting in the way of her perceiving them in her client. As a result, the client was not helped to acknowledge that his own hidden ambition and wish to dominate often played some part in his getting 'dumped on' at work through being given more responsibilities than he consciously wanted or could realistically handle.

Supervision enabled the coach to perceive more clearly the client's ambivalence about his work overload. She was then able to help him acknowledge and take responsibility for his own part in creating this situation he was in at work and to make some difficult but important choices.