Reflexive authority:

Reflexive authority:

The crucial role of Supervision. The supervisor is the crucial figure, the Third, the individual who enters the dyad created by coach/consultant & client..

The crucial role of Supervision.

In the absorbing film on the 2008 financial crash, The Big Short, a key scene implies that Standards and Poor’s (S&P) one of the three leading credit-rating agencies, were finding it difficult to be objective in their ratings…..as the companies they were rating were also their clients. A better example of a conflict of interest would be hard to find. And this raises a more general point, noted by the Roman poet Juvenal – quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (who guards the guardians?). Who helps to keep those in authority on the straight and narrow, ethically and professionally? Who helps them face the conundrums of office? (These questions are topical as we reflect on the historically important UK Referendum, where the decision to have the referendum, some of the arguments presented, and the consequences likely to arise, were clearly not thought through by leaders.)

The notion of the wavering authority or expert figure is implicit in phrases like ‘physician heal thyself’ and the saying ‘cobblers’ children go ill-shod’. Here the implication is that the professional is failing to tend him/herself or nearest and dearest. There is a failure of reflexivity. We know that authority of any kind is difficult – ‘uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’ wrote Shakespeare – but it is rendered more difficult by the perceived need to be and be seen to be, authoritative. This can evolve into a kind of professional narcissism, whereby asking for help is felt to be a humiliation, and headline-grabbing action is preferred to often discomfiting reflection.

In the modern age psychoanalysts, therapists, coaches and consultants carry on a long tradition of advisors, sages, confidantes – individuals who hold considerable responsibility for shaping the thoughts, feelings and actions of others. The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan once defined the analyst as the person ‘supposed to know’ and we can transpose this to the coach and consultant, who is equally supposed – by the coachee – to know. But what if he/she doesn’t know, or is beset by doubts, has difficulties with a client’s personality, is losing sight of the ethical dimension? That is where the role of the supervisor comes in.

The supervisor is that crucial figure, the Third, the individual who enters the dyad created by coach/consultant and client, as an interpreter and mediator with the vision to see patterns in the coaching or consulting relationships, failures of self-understanding in the coach/consultant, unexplored issues of the clients – and client system – and ethical and professional themes. The supervisor also conveys new perspectives, via fresh models and theories.

Drawing on psychodynamic, systems, Gestalt and postmodern theories and a wealth of examined professional experience, the Tavistock Institute course in Supervision for Coaching and Consultancy develops supervisors who: have a particular insight into the dynamics of the coaching and consulting relationships, can identify resistance and distortions that obstruct or derail the process, and who enable coaches and consultants to enhance their self-knowledge and deploy new approaches that help the client move forward. The course is designed for coaches and O.D. consultants who have at least five years’ experience, and for supervisors who would like to deepen their understanding and broaden their repertoire.

Our course is directed by Dr Eliat Aram and Dr James Mackay, who have extensive coaching, consultancy and supervision experience across both the private and public sectors and who also direct the internationally recognised Certificate in Coaching for Leadership and Professional Development.

The Supervision course is based in central London and comprises 3 x 2-day non-residential modules.

For a brochure and more details of the fee, module dates and venue or if you have any questions, please contact Rachel Kelly: Professional Development Coordinator.

James Mackay
Director, Certificate in Supervision for Coaching & Consultancy

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