Coaching, Mentoring, Supervision

What approach is right for me: 

Coaching, Mentoring, or Supervision?

Supervision, Coaching, and Mentoring are all widely used approaches for developing the skills and knowledge of professionals. While there is some overlap between these approaches, each has its own unique benefits and focus.

Supervision is a formal process that is typically used in regulated professions such as physiotherapy. Its primary purpose is to ensure that professionals are working within their competence and to provide a supportive environment for reflection and learning. The benefits of supervision include improved job performance, increased confidence, and reduced stress. If you work in isolation then booking supervision is an important part of your CPD maintenance. 

Coaching is a more informal and structured approach to skill-building that focuses on achieving specific goals or outcomes. It typically involves 6 one-to-one sessions where I will help you to identify areas for improvement and create an action plan to achieve those goals. The benefits of coaching include improved performance, increased motivation, and enhanced career development.

Mentoring, like coaching, is an informal approach to development that typically involves me offering guidance and advice based on my career experience. However, mentoring is typically focused on broader career development goals, such as leadership skills or professional networking. There is no limit to sessions but intervals between sessions are usually longer and the mentoring relationship can last many years. The benefits of mentoring include increased confidence, improved job satisfaction, and enhanced career progression.

If you are not sure which approach you need then don't worry! We will discuss this in our initial session where we can get to know each other and decide if my approach is right for you. This is sometimes called a "chemistry session" because it is where we can decide if we "click" and can work well together. 

What training and experience does Diarmuid have to be a coach/mentor?

I completed a Coaching and Mentoring level 5 training course at University College London Hospitals in 2017. I then went on to complete a year-long training course with Catalyst-14 and am now an EMCC accredited coach and mentor (follow the link or scroll down to see my certificate). In addition my work in pain management for over 20 years has involved health coaching approaches to working with people who live with pain, so it has felt very familiar to me in many ways.  

My personal coaching philosophy, and a motivator for me becoming a coach and mentor, revolves around my belief that people have the inner wisdom to guide them to navigate challenges and can often benefit from skilled conversations via coaching to facilitate this process. I am passionate about inclusion, and I strive to embrace and respect the uniqueness of every individual, their talents and potential, and in keeping with the EMCC code of ethics. I found this stance valuable for my early experiences of being coached and this led me to consider becoming a coach myself. 

I have always been aware of my ability to listen and refrain from "jumping in" or interrupting to offer advice. I recall as a young man initially thinking of this as a weakness, wising I was more like my peers who always seemed to have some “advice” to give. Over the years, mainly through informal feedback from colleagues and friends, I have realised that the ability to simply listen and provide a space is a valuable strength. My feedback from peers and clients, as part of this coaching training course, has cemented the value of this core skill for me and I include testimonials from clients I have coached below. 

I have worked with people in healthcare, in particular physiotherapists, and I also have experience with clients from other backgrounds including HR, independent small business sector, and sports coach/education. 

Reflecting on my coaching experience I would say that the two most common themes I encounter and help people with are:

Lack of self confidence

Uncertainty in career trajectory


"I have had the privilege of being coached and mentored by Diarmuid for a couple of years now and he has had a hugely positive influence on how I practice as a physiotherapist and how I run my new business. His approach is motivating, thoughtful, and inspiring.  He has a unique ability to listen and provide honest and sometimes challenging feedback in a very positive and encouraging way.

I have spent 20+ years working as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist within the NHS and over the years I developed an interest in working with people that experience persistent pain.  Diarmuid has helped me bridge a divide between my musculoskeletal physiotherapy training and pain care.  He has helped me build my confidence, knowledge and skills when applying practical pain care which has enabled me to work successfully with people to help them overcome persistent pain.  As a result of his guidance and support, I have seen tremendous growth both in my business and in my clinical practice helping people understand their problems so they can work towards their values and achieve their goals despite experiencing ongoing pain. I highly recommend working with Diarmuid to any clinician that works with people experiencing complex chronic pain."

"Diarmuid was very effective in creating a safe space during coaching sessions through his use of contracting, setting the scene for the session and verbal and non-verbal communication throughout.  Diarmuid was a skilled listener and provided space for me to talk through a situation, sometimes to the point of coming to my own conclusions or to the point where he summarised or reflected on themes that had emerged, helping me make sense of the situation being discussed.  Throughout the sessions I felt very much that I was supported in gaining clarity through my own process of thought, rather than being given suggestions or answers.  When Diarmuid did offer a perspective or, on rare occasions, offer an opinion (for example) he was explicit in labelling this and clarifying what he was doing.  Diarmuid pulled on useful images, diagrams or sayings at appropriate times during our sessions – which provided additional perspective on, or reinforcement of, an idea.  I believe it was largely due to Diarmuid’s skill that I looked forward to my coaching sessions each month and found myself reflecting on aspects of the conversation up until the next session.   Through the course of the coaching I gained numerous new perspectives and had a number of ‘lightbulb moments’.  I am very appreciative for the opportunity to have had coaching with Diarmuid – I have benefited greatly as I’m sure many more people will in the future."

“I had 2 sessions recently with Diarmuid at a time where I was considering moving on from a job role. I had several potential options open to me but was feeling very conflicted about which might be the best option, and even whether my motives for feeling that I might need to move on were valid.  Diarmuid utilised a values-based approach; getting me to rate what things were truly important to me, and then considering my potential options rated against my key values. This process, and his questioning was hugely helpful to helping me to understand why I might have been feeling what I was feeling about my current role, and move forward to a decision that I felt happy with”.

"DD is very effective as a coach. DD is calm and collected and has a presence. So he innately brings trust to the session where I can facilitate a change. He keeps to goal set by me at the start of the session. DD creates the space for me to talk honestly and form my own goals, he enables my thought process with what I feel are the right questions to be asked. He probes at the right time and use pauses well! I believe DD is a fantastic coach and look forward to working with him again."

"Diarmuid is an extremely good listener, he gave me space and time to develop and form my own thoughts in a safe and often fun but challenging environment. He is able to dig deeper, ask more probing questions and danced nicely between directive and non-directive coaching styles. I particularly enjoyed a mindfulness session which provided some deep thinking time for me to ask myself what the real question was. Each session followed the TGROW model and I always came away with a sense of achievement courtesy of Diarmuid’s coaching. I particularly like the way that Diarmuid summarised and paraphrased, demonstrating a deep sense of listening which made me feel valued and understood, this feedback tool is one of his many strengths."

"Diarmuid has a very open, approachable and supportive style. He encourages accountability in a supportive way e.g. making the most of the sessions, what do you want to get from this, what are you taking away. I liked the balance of the sessions including reflective practice and problem-solving. I always had actions to take away from the sessions such as an email to send, communication tips etc.  It was also so helpful for me because Diarmuid was able to provide support from a clinical and managerial perspective."

"I valued my discussions with Diarmuid. At the time I needed peer supervision that would focus on my development as a pain clinician and team lead. Diarmuid was approachable and non-judgemental and I felt I was able to speak openly about my professional practice and the challenges that I faced. During our sessions I was able engage in discussions about my experience as a team lead and clinician that included service development, concerns about my practice and future development. We were able to set goals and discuss strategies to meet some of the challenges that I had voiced.

It was not only beneficial to receive support and coaching from someone who did not work within my organisation but it helped that Diarmuid was able to understand the inherent challenges of working within a pain management service and share some of his own experiences and insights. I appreciated his honesty and experience and found it easy to open up and trust his judgement."

"Diarmuid was consistently a good listener. He showed excellent skill in encouraging self-reflection and a good problem-solving approach to my concerns without giving direct advice."