So what is the difference between professional supervision, coaching and mentoring?

Defining these professional and practice development options, that Helen provides as part of her service, seemed be a good place to start with this blog.


When should you use a mentor? You would choose a MENTOR when requiring a more experienced person to discuss career opportunities with or when taking on a new role which requires more advanced skills and knowledge. This might be a person who you respect for their achievements in this area and that you feel you can talk to with ease. It may be an internal person assigned to you to help you find your feet in your new role.  Some training as a mentor may or may not be involved. This can be short or long term professional relationship between the mentor and mentee.


So when should you use a coach? You would enlist a trained COACH to provide guidance and support when required to meet certain organisational outcomes within a given timeframe. The coach would assist you to work to your strengths and develop your potential in meeting your proposed goals. Alternatively, it could be that you require support with presentation skills or a large project. This relationship can be short term or long term with a trained coach.

Professional Supervision

So what is professional supervision and how is it different from mentoring and coaching? This is often a difficult concept for people to get their head around because in general terms supervision most commonly means oversight of a person’s performance. However, amongst many expert, trained professional supervisors this term is based on creating a SUPER – VISION of where your practice could take you, what your practice could be like and how this might be achieved. Reflection, or looking back  to enable you to look forward, is central to making changes, celebrating successes and gaining the skills to ride the waves with each new challenge. In-depth reflection is required.

Reflection is also used in mentoring and coaching. For example when you look at existing knowledge, the past experience and strengths that a person brings to their roles the process of reflection is involved. In Helen’s opinion, professional supervision is an ‘umbrella term’ that can include a coaching session, a supportive mentoring session or in-depth reflection on a challenging situation, as it is client driven or led. Professional supervision involves creating a regular space (weekly to 6 weekly) in your diary to meet with a trained supervisor, throughout your career.

(Next blog topic will build  the topic of ‘reflection on practice’ and the ‘critical thinking processes involved)

Looking forward to your comments and feedback.