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  • Writer's pictureKarine Guibert

What is supervision?

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

- Photo Kevin Nalty -

Supervision is a collaborative learning space that aims to strengthen the capacities of the supervisee by helping them taking a step back and by providing a systemic look at their interactions with their environment. Through confidential reflexive conversations with their supervisor, the supervisee explores what is happening in them and continues to develop their skills, while ensuring the ethics of their professional practice. It is an integration point that allows them to better control their impact on others and gain maturity in their posture and their professional activity.

Supervision is intended for all professionals who support people and teams (manager, coach, HR, psychologist, etc.). It can be practiced individually, in groups or between peers. The sessions are based on concrete situations and challenges brought by the supervisees. The techniques and tools used by supervisors to support their clients in this reflexive practice are eclectic and thus adapt to the diversity of cases, contexts and objectives of the supervisee.

How is supervision different from coaching?

  • Supervision approaches all topics in a systemic way and analyses the impact of the supervisee’s practices and posture on their clients and their stakeholders

  • The focus of supervision is a collaborative work of reflection, with or without action, and includes elements of learning and mentoring

  • Supervision has 3 functions:

    • Formative: skills and performance development

    • Normative: development of professional, ethical and deontological practice

    • Restorative: personal development

How is this different from mentoring?

  • Mentoring supports the professional mainly by helping them to develop their technical skills. The mentor, often an experienced peer, guides them in their professional steps towards accreditation, promotion or a higher level of competence. The sessions consist in identifying what is already there and what is missing to reach the next level of maturity and capacity in one’s professional practice.

  • Supervision provides a 360 degree-support and development space where the professional explores their practice with a fellow practitioner. The focus is more on the reflective practice and the being of the professional. The focus is broader than skills, it also addresses the history, style, mindset of the supervisee, with a systemic perspective.

As a professional helping others, we are our own instrument: who we are determines how we support our customers and employees. Engaging in a supervision practice, which will serve as both a beacon and a safeguard, is essential to continually reflect on ourselves as practitioners, to remain aware of how we relate and interact with to others.

According to you, what is the best metaphor to illustrate supervision?


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