I’ve just returned from a wonderful coaching supervision conference in Montréal, Canada, organised by the Americas Coaching Supervision Network. I don’t often describe conferences as wonderful. Sometimes, they’re interesting, sometimes they’re stimulating, sometimes they’re worthwhile, sometimes they’re just ok. So what was different about this one?
Well, there was a familiar gang of UK friends and colleagues who travelled over on the same plane, and who all seemed as excited as I was. Perhaps this was because for many of us, we had not been to Montréal before nor had we been to this conference (the first one was last year) and we were all privileged to be offering a session or a demo to contribute to the programme.
On our first morning after arriving, and before the conference actually started, we walked into the hotel dining room and the Latin American participants were there (from Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico). They jumped up and greeted us with such warmth and enthusiasm. While I had met some of them virtually, there was such delight as we recognised each other and put real faces to the names and voices and images from our Zoom connections, and we could shake hands and hug. This was inspiring. They were so appreciative that we had come to Montréal, and I felt very welcome.
During the conference (attended by about 80 supervisors from a dozen or more countries from around the world), we were treated to some great sessions. These included a workshop with Tatiana Bachkirova exploring the fascinating domain of ‘self as instrument’, which is so vital in our own development as practitioners – see her article on ‘The self of the coach’ here. We also had some exploratory conversations around ethics in supervision, internal supervision, marketing and education, bringing heart to supervision and cultural challenges in supervision.
I facilitated a live group supervision session (pictured above) where we explored a client issue from which we identified possible elements of parallel process. My paper for the workshop is here.
On the second day, we again participated in a live workshop with Karyn Prentice and Elaine Paterson, working with a creative, reflective practice. We were then able to attend further live demonstrations (both group and individual) including several sessions working with different creative tools including cards, Lego and a ‘metaphor magic box’.
Throughout the two days, we were gently facilitated to get to know and work with both new and familiar colleagues in a way that felt spontaneous, easy and fun. I was struck by the whole group’s energy to immerse ourselves in our time together, and by people’s eagerness for the demonstrations. Perhaps this had to do with the deep levels of experience in the room, together with a curiosity and eagerness to share and learn that felt fresh and vibrant. Equally, too, the time to sit and chat, explore new ideas, and reflect on the workshops simply felt unhurried and caring.
While there was a lot of experience and wisdom in the group, there wasn’t much ego. The energy of sharing, generosity and hospitality was for me palpable; and as I reflect now, I can see how all these conditions are fundamental to creating the space that allows us to reflect, learn, and continue to grow, which is after all at the heart of supervision.
Many of us stayed on in Montréal and in Canada, and I really appreciated giving myself the time to explore the city, climb Mont Royal (a 20 km round trip from my hotel). There were other events offered during the evenings and after the conference that also added to our whole experience. The final occasion for me was a gentle walking tour of the city on the Sunday morning, when I had time to chat with and get to know several more colleagues away from the learning space of the conference. This hopefully created new professional friendships that will enable us to share our practice and flourish across the oceans.
My heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to Damian Goldvarg, Lily Seto and Nathalie Dubé for creating and providing such a wonderful, relational space for our learning in this growing field of supervision in the Americas. The next Americas Coaching Supervision Network conference will be in Mexico in May 2020.