The Difference Between Mentor Coaching And Coaching Supervision

Understanding the different types of support and the opportunities for professional development available to coaches after their initial coach training is of the utmost importance. Coaches have a professional duty to keep learning and improving their skills as well as their awareness.

One of the topics we explore in our coach training programmes is the difference between mentor coaching and coaching supervision. We wanted to create an article about it to help other coaches decide which one they would best benefit from.

Coaching supervision

Coaching supervision creates a safe environment for the coach to share their challenges in becoming masterful. The primary focus is on the Who of the coach, that is what they think and how they feel about their clients, their sessions, or themselves as a coach. The What – the skills – is also discussed but mostly as a way to help the coach move forward in their coaching practice or in the situation they brought to supervision.

Coaching supervision is not mandatory but highly encouraged by the ICF. It is however an integral part of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) framework and one of the requirements for their credential. There is no ICF accreditation for supervisors, but there is one for the EMCC, called the Supervision Individual Accreditation (ESIA).

Because coaching supervision focuses not just on coaching skills but mostly on the coach, it is important that your supervisor knows and uses supervision models, and received feedback and mentoring about their own practice from an experienced supervisor. Coaches can include 10 hours of supervision as part of their continuing professional development when they renew their ICF credential every 3 years.

Mentor Coaching

Mentor coaching differs from coaching supervision in the sense that it mostly focuses on the coach’s skills. Its purpose is to improve the level of competency in line with what is expected for credentialing. In mentor coaching, the coach is being coached and mentored on their coaching skills rather than on practice building, life balance or other topics unrelated to the development of their coaching skills. It is an requirement for ICF ACC, PCC, and MCC credential applications, but not for the EMCC.

A mentor coach will listen to your coaching (whether it is a live session with another participant or a recording). They will explore with you what went well, what could be improved, and give you some guidance on how to improve on your core competencies.


It all comes down to your needs but also on the professional body you :

  • If you want to prepare for an ICF credential or improve your skills based on the ICF Core Competencies, working with a mentor Coach will provide you with the resources you need to reach your goal.
  • If you want a deeper inner work about your approach to coaching, or if you prepare for an EMCC credential, a coaching supervisor will be your best option.


Coaching supervision and mentor coaching can be complementary as the former focuses on the coach as a practitioner while the latter focuses on improvement coaching skills.


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European Mentoring and Coaching Council. Supervision. URL:

International Coaching Federation. Mentor Coaching. URL:


Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

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