This is all about what is going on for the Supervisor themselves. Just like Eyes 1 & 4 – this could be about the “here and now” or of course a supervisor may well have their own baggage which they bring into the mix. The usefulness of this “eye” is connected to the supervisor’s ability to bring what they are experiencing, into the session in a way that generates insight and which is therefore helpful to the client work itself.
In order for the information accessed in this way to be useful, the supervisor needs to be able to identify where “stuff” is coming from. Could it be connected to the client work ? Their own struggles and fantasies? Perhaps to their own unfinished business ? Or perhaps to something unknown? When the supervisor assesses that their “here and now” experience is not primarily from their own “stuff” – it is quite likely to be the trigger for identifying a parallel process – which is what Eye 5 relates to. However, in Eye 6 we enter more challenging and potentially unknown territory. Let’s look at this in order of “known-ness”. Firstly, it is not unusual for a supervisor to have experienced similar sensations to their supervisee at some point in their past. Where the supervisor has acknowledged the issue themselves, and begun working on it, it can be appropriate to share their own story. In expressing their own vulnerability the supervisor may give clues about how the supervisee might work to deepen their own insight. This is “easier” for the supervisor when the developmental issue is resolved or at least accepted. Of course there may be some things in the supervisees story that resonate for the supervisor and which are still very much a “work in progress” or perhaps an active fantasy. Here it can be more difficult for the supervisor to share their own experience – it may still be a private matter. The challenge for the supervisor in this situation, is to reveal only as much about the shared sensation as is necessary to prompt discussion, rather than using the session to do their own work. Finally, there is the sometimes unnerving emergence of “something out of nowhere” – that makes no logical sense, but seems somehow important.
For example, whilst working on the phone, I once experienced a strong sensation of being pulled to stand upright as though there were a string running from the top of my head to the ceiling – it reminded me of my ballet lessons as a child. I shared this with my client and it was a lightbulb moment for her – turns out her son was a professional dancer and my description resonated for her. She suddenly knew she needed to “stand tall”. I don’t rationally know where this sensation came from, but in sharing my experience something “clicked” for my supervisee.
An example: I was working with a novice internal coach who was talking through her struggle to transition from “expert” to coach. As an experienced lawyer she was used to being paid to express her opinion and was finding it a hard habit to break. She was talking about her frustration that whilst “intellectually” she knew the client had to find their own way – she couldn’t help herself from “helping”. She found it almost impossible not to respond to their struggle by offering suggestions and solutions. We explored this a little but it was clear from her energy that she “didn’t know why” and in highlighting the contradiction between belief’s and behaviours she was getting more and more exasperated. Rather incongruently as I listened to her angst, I felt myself supress a smile. I almost instantly knew what the smile was about – I’d been there, how often had a well-intended but directive question or suggestion tumbled out of my mouth, before I had a chance to catch it?? I shared with her that I was smiling because it was resonating with my own experience – and offered to share my journey of how I have worked to “control” this. In particular I shared with her the notion of the drama triangle and how when we help “too much” we can assume the “rescuer” role – which effectively puts our client in the “victim” role. I explained that for me “victim” was a very emotive word and so it acted as quite a deterrent when I started to feel my “rescuer” emerge. And I shared that over 10 years on and with thousands of coaching hours under my belt, there were still times when those well intended suggestions crept out – especially when under time pressure and heading towards the close of a session. After sharing my own learning, I asked her what, if anything, that prompted in her. Turns out that the timing issue was probably playing out for her too… not so much at the end of the session though, more in terms of handling “silence” or when the session seemed to be slowing or lacking energy. A light bulb went on – she commented on how impatient she was and mused this probably came from her “day job” where she charges by the 10 minute unit. My revelation that I still struggle with this issue was met with confusion – she didn’t know whether to be relieved that the struggle was not unique to her or to be dismayed that she might never crack it! I smiled openly and broadly now and simply said “welcome to my world”!