Eve Turner and Peter Hawkins consider how we enhance learning when someone
brings an audio or video recording to supervision
A topic that regularly comes up in supervision is the use of recordings: why, when, what, where and how. This article explores these issues, and how we can get the most benefit from recordings.
It offers thoughts on giving feedback as a supervisor/tutor to someone who brings or submits a recording for review in a way that enhances learning, keeps the review collaborative and a dialogical inquiry and minimises the person feeling judged, criticised and then becoming defensive. We also consider the issues of confidentiality and data protection.
An audio or video recording could be of a coaching or supervision session and of a full or condensed session. In our experience there are occasions when we’re required to provide recordings or do live, sometimes videoed or audio-recorded, coaching sessions, for example, as part of a training programme; as a prerequisite to getting on an organisation’s coaching or supervision register; or as part of gaining a credential or accreditation from a professional body.
We believe the use of recordings is also helpful in our ongoing learning and development; not because we have to undertake them, but because we want to develop our practice, our ‘super-vision’, as described by Ann Collins in the following. Here is our 10-point plan for starters.
Make it work
- We do recordings because they are helpful to our development. It doesn’t mean it is necessarily easy to do them, or that in doing so we avoid thinking we might be judged. Nonetheless, dealing with reality means that both parties can share reactions and ideas in the moment, thus supporting development and awareness in the moment.
- We contract with our coaching or supervision clients around the use of recordings when we begin working with them. We always gain specific consent to record a session and are clear how the recording will be used, who will hear it and how these boundaries will be managed.
- We follow data protection legislation in the relevant jurisdiction. This may mean sending files encoded.
- We consider the reasons for using recordings as they can help us to notice and understand our:
- Blind spots – things we don’t see in ourselves
- Deaf spots – things we don’t hear the first time, perhaps because we’re not fully listening or because there are things we don’t find comfortable hearing, and
- Dumb spots – times when we don’t share our thinking, don’t voice our intuition, don’t challenge.
- When we’re using a recording in a supervision session or a tutorial, it’s important to prepare well for these sessions. This includes the client or supervisor listening to them ahead of meeting to review them together. For the person bringing the recording, reviewing and reflecting ahead of the session can be helpful. This might include writing:
- A side of A4 paper explaining their aims and intentions in the session
- A short context for the session (eg, a bit about the client, number of the session)
- A summary of the client’s feedback on the chosen section
- What the client would like to explore and learn from the reflection on the recorded session.
- In the supervision session we pay attention to the feel of the session – how can we ensure it remain Adult-Adult and not slip into Parent-Child (exploring through a Transactional Analysis perspective)? How can we avoid the appearance of being judgemental? How do we lead feedback? Consider what it’s like as a client bringing a recording to supervision and as a supervisor.
- We aim to establish a learning environment for the session through staying in collaborative inquiry mode, modelling active listening ourselves and using questions like:
- What are the things you did in active listening that helped the person’s active exploration? How did you create space?
- Where were you aligned and where were you less aligned with your client? What could you have done differently?
- In what ways did you follow what the client wanted or needed? In what ways did you show support and challenge?
- What do you notice about how you work when you listen to this session?
- Consider ‘in whose service is this recording?’ Keep in mind the different stakeholders: individual client, coaches’ future clients, organisational client, sector, profession and professional body, family and friends. How is the coach/supervisor balancing stakeholders’ needs?
- Plan recordings reasonably regularly so they become a normal way of practising and not something special.
- Allow time to consider how the learning is incorporated into practice.
- Failing to contract with clients around the use of recordings at the outset
- Ignoring data protection legislation
- Either party failing to prepare fully for sessions where recordings will be used
- Not considering, as supervisor, how to give feedback in a non-judgemental way
- Failing to consider as supervisor how to create a learning environment which will support collaborative inquiry
- Not attending to the interests of all served by the use of the recording/s
- Being drawn into colluding
- The supervisor being drawn into their own blind spots or unconscious biases
- Failing to allow sufficient time to consider how learning can be embedded and incorporated into practice.
Ann Collins is an executive coach and psychotherapist working with organisations and individuals who regularly uses recordings. She values the process but understands why people might be reluctant:
“No matter how well prepared we are for sharing our ‘work’ in supervision, bringing a recording can feel somewhat exposing. I’ve found, however, the more I use them, the easier it becomes to let go of my own concerns about judgement and criticism and see the value it brings to me personally and professionally.
“Recordings provide valuable insights to what is often outside our own awareness. They enable us to see patterns we might not have picked up on before and/or hear things we missed first time round. They’re useful in developing our own reflective practice by providing a ‘helicopter view’, or ‘super-vision’, to help us step out of the session and look at it from a different perspective.
“This helps develop our own internal supervisor and by processing our work in this way helps to reframe how we address situations differently and integrate them back into our future sessions.”