A Happy New Year to you all. The Yuletide holiday for me always instigates a period of rest and reflection. I like to use the darker days of winter and a break in my clinical and client work as an opportunity to go within and reflect on my practice. Does what I am doing still work for me – and my clients? How can I develop? What additional skills or support do I need? What am I curious about? What is calling to me?

I may be biased, but I wonder if those of us who are working at the boundary of coaching and counselling/psychotherapy and other related practices may be more prone to asking such questions of ourselves? As the field of integrated and/or dual practice is still relatively new, and many of us have come to coaching from a variety of backgrounds, trainings and practices, it is natural that we regularly query ourselves and how we practise – and with whom. My dance movement psychotherapy practice has most certainly changed the way I perceive my coaching practice – and vice versa – and of course, I am also influenced by continuing professional development and other external influences – including editing this journal! Like our Chair, Eve Menezes Cunningham, who shares some of her journey in her regular message and in an exclusive extract from her new book, I too trained as a coach before training as a psychotherapist, and so my coaching practice has had much more time to develop and evolve. I can say without doubt that the kind of coach I am now is markedly different from the kind I was when I began practising 10 years ago, as I have integrated various elements of my training and practice over time. Though I still have a number of models in my toolkit that I draw upon, I would say my coaching behaviour and the interventions I use with my clients are very much influenced by my CPD and training, and by the various client groups with whom I work, including women in community mental health and young men in prison, as well as private coaching clients working in the creative and cultural sectors.

In this new year issue, I am delighted to welcome the return of Dr Erik de Haan of the Ashridge Centre for Coaching, who shares with us a fascinating piece of research into the coaching behaviours of executive coaches. The study measures these coaching behaviours through the eyes of coaches, consultants, manager-coaches, clients and observers, and demonstrates that, contrary to how we perceive ourselves as practitioners, our clients may perceive us very differently, and we may not be the kind of coach we think we are after all. Though the study is applied specifically to executive coaching, it does have implications for how we might measure the behaviours of different types of coaching professionals (including those of us working integratively) and how these differences might correlate with the skills of the coach and effectiveness of the coaching offer.

In another piece of research, Mark Hick, a former law professional now working as a coach and counsellor, shares the views of law firm sponsors of coaching in this study undertaken as part of his training in counselling and coaching at the University of Warwick. Again, though applied to a specific employment sector, Mark’s research indicates that an overwhelming majority of sponsors found counselling/therapy-based coaching to be most effective for their members, and that coaches who have counselling skills in their toolkit are seen as providing additional competence and depth to their coaching.

Finally, BACP Coaching’s Executive Specialist for Communication, Sally Brown, follows her Coaching Conversations feature from the October 2017 issue with another article examining the various models we use in our coaching practice. As before, she canvasses the views of a number of coaches to explore what models they have in their toolkit, how they use them, with whom, and in what context.

Whatever your goals for 2018 – both personal and professional – I wish you a productive, inspiring, interesting and bountiful year. Until next time… 

Diane Parker