In this issue
Deepening awareness: a Gestalt approach to coaching
Christine Partridge and Juliann Spoth
Empathy at work
Dr Anne Brockbank
Adaptive capacity: looking at human systems dynamics
Message from the chair
On the coach
John Whittington in conversation with Linda Aspey
A day in the life
Equine guided coach Laira Gold
In focus: spotlight on online technologies
Executive Specialist for Online Coaching Kate Anthony
The subject of empathy has been increasingly prominent in the popular psychology press in recent years, with publications by the likes of Daniel Siegel (The Roots of Empathy) and Paul Gilbert (The Compassionate Mind). We know that empathy is essential for effective relationship building and a kinder society, that a lack of empathy can result in all kinds of misunderstandings and communication breakdowns and, taken to its extreme, can be a symptom of pathological narcissism.
We also know that, as coaches and therapists, an understanding of what empathy is and how to use it in relationship with our clients is fundamental to our practice. To be able to experience the world from another’s point of view is, it has been suggested, an instinctive human quality, while the ability to communicate that understanding is a skill that can be developed through the conscious employment of techniques such as mirroring and attunement, suggesting that empathy – like coaching, like therapy – is both an art and a science.
How we bring our empathic selves into relationship with others is a key aspect of our work. Having the flexibility and awareness to adapt to different contexts and circumstances is the subject of our cover feature in this edition, as Dr Anne Brockbank explores how empathy can be effectively employed in the workplace. In some business and corporate settings, empathy can still unfortunately be perceived as one of those ‘woolly, touchy-feely’ concepts; however, by bringing awareness of the context, the desired outcome and the kind of coaching required, she argues, we can adapt our level of empathy accordingly.
This theme of adapting in relationship with other is further echoed in Louie Gardiner’s fascinating piece on human systems dynamics, as she uses her own experience of writing her article to demonstrate complex adaptive systems in action. Compassion, empathy and awareness of systems dynamics are also explored in our exclusive interview with systemic coach and constellations trainer John Whittington. And equine coach and psychotherapist Laira Gold gives us a beautiful insight into the unique relationship between horse and human, and offers another perspective on empathy and attunement as she describes how the two-way communication with the horse, a deeply instinctive animal, can help human beings get back in touch with our own instincts and subtly attune to our somatic – and empathic – selves.
Your thoughts, feedback and ideas on this and other areas covered in our journal are – as ever – more than welcome!