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Individual supervision case: Why do I coach 30 minutes too long with this client?
2 December 2018 

Individual supervision case: Why do I coach 30 minutes too long with this client?

Group supervision of a professional coach

This is an anonymous description of a group supervision case of an experienced PCC coach, discussed during a group supervision.

The coachee is a 45 year old manager who wants to develop a less directive, a more inspiring leadership style and who wants to better relationships with her collaborators. The coach, the manager and het coachee sign a 3-party contract with clear objectives.

During the first session the coach addresses the logical levels of consciousness (Bateson & Dilts). The clients shows a lot of interest for the level op mission. Together they work in the first session to understand how the manager’s core values are driving her current behaviour. The client is very happy with this broader self awareness.

After the coaching session, the coach notices she has worked 30 minutes longer with this client than agreed. This is not her habit …

The client expresses her enthusiasm during the second session about her progress, her positive experiences, her readings about the ‘power of vulnarability’. The coach is astonished how much has  been done within 3 weeks only.  They continue working on reframing a few limiting beliefs related to her old behaviours. Once again the client has huge insights and she expresses she would like to work on her ‘purpose’ next time.

After the session, the coach notices that she has exceeded the time with another 30 minutes. What is happening here?

While the coach expresses the word ‘purpose’, we notice that her voice makes a click and we feel that their is quite a lot of emotion connected to this word.


keep to agreed time as a professional coach

Group supervision with professional coaches: why did I coach 30 minutes longer than agreed?

The supervision question is:

“How can I stay close to myself while we work on purpose with this client?”


Group reflection

The reflective question round provides us with additional information:

  • The contracting with this client went well
  • There is some concern with the coach that this client might leave the company when she discovers her purpose
  • There is some uncertainty related to what format the coach will use next time related to working on the client’ s purpose
  • The coach noticed a feeling of tenderness towards this manager
  • The coach describes this client’s physical expressions as rather ‘normal’ and hesitates to say that the clients looks rather ‘dull or gray’ because she does not want to judge her client.

Supervision hypotheses

Multiple hypotheses are discussed.  One is really touching her …

  • This client, with her physical characteristics, makes the coach think of her sister. The coach experiences her sister as someone who does not really live fully, rather ‘dull or gray’ in her way of living. The coach describes her frustration related to her sister because she does not succeed to influence her and it is not her role to coach her sister.
  • The hypothesis is that there is some kind of parallel process between the client-coach relationship and this of the sister-coach relationship. With the client the coach experiences succcess in awakening her for a ‘fuller live’.
  • The 30 additional minutes that this client unconsciously receives from her coach, may be a projected gift to her sister … who she cannot influence … but this client is so eager to take it on.

Next steps for this coach?

Through becoming aware of this link between coach-client, separate from the sister-coach link, the coach is now able to make a more free choice to work on the Purpose with this client. The emotional connection to choosing for a full life, is less strong.

Of course, the coach needs to do some preparation work on ‘how’ they will work in the next session on the purpose. Also, the ethical question about this client who may leave her company is still on her list. But these questions are less pertinent for this coach.


What about you: how difficult is it for you to keep track of the time?

I’d like to hear your reactions to this supervision case:

What might drive you to give extra time to your coaching clients?


Do you want to learn more from cases with other team coaches?

Join a group supervision for coaches !

Or book a free intake meeting with me through this link!

About the author
Leen coacht executives en management teams, begeleidt intervisies en is lead trainer in de ICF-certificerende opleidingen ROOT-GROW-BLOOM en in Teamcoaching. Professionele Reflectieve Supervisie wordt aangeboden in kleine besloten groepen en aan individuele coaches en consultants.
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