Like many regular readers of this journal, I’m sure, I read Catherine Jackson’s recent headline article in the March issue of Therapy Today with curiosity, pride and more than a smidgen of excitement. ‘Coaching Comes of Age’1 celebrates the launch of the new coaching competence framework for therapists and counsellors who coach. It features the voices of many who have made a significant contribution to BACP Coaching and Coaching Today over the years, including Chairs and Executive members, both past and present, and others whose pioneering work has influenced – directly or indirectly – the development of a robust set of competences for therapeutically informed coaching.2
The article highlights how a coaching approach can help clients navigate their way to an imagined, hoped-for future, and that one significant aspect of the competence framework is acknowledgment of the systemic context in which the coaching takes place, be that political or organisational. There is recognition here of a world beyond the individual who is in coaching and of the wider social impact of our work as coaches, dual practitioners, or integrated coach-therapists. The ‘hoped-for future’ for our clients could be a better-paid job, greater recognition within their organisation, or increased social equality or economic justice for the community of which they are part and with which they closely identify.
"There is recognition here of a world beyond the individual who is in coaching and of the wider social impact of our work as coaches, dual practitioners, or integrated coach-therapists"
As practitioners, we cannot shy away from the very real issues our clients face on a daily basis. Focus on a hoped-for future is not the same as forced positivity, a form of denial. When my clients tell me they want to feel more ‘hopeful’ or ‘optimistic’ as a result of our work together, they are not asking me to tell them that all will be well and to ‘look on the bright side’. They are asking me – whether consciously or not – to help them reconnect with their innate strength, resilience and power, which may have been lying dormant for many years – their belief that they have the capacity to change things for the better. Hope and optimism are different from positivity in that they require willingness to work hard, courage to take action, and a steadfast refusal to shrink from the difficult conversations. Hope and optimism are the tools of the activist.
I hope you enjoy the articles in this issue. As ever, if you are inspired to respond with an article of your own, get in touch with me at the address below – I’d love to hear from you.