Many years ago, I was a regular player with an improv troupe. Alongside performing, I attended and facilitated improv workshops, which laid a solid foundation for my work as a creative group therapist.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought all of my in-person contact groupwork to a swift and unexpected end. Throughout lockdown, I satisfied my improv fix with the vicarious pleasure of watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? on Dave, and marvelling at the days when I had happily rolled around and played pretend with perfect strangers in the name of improvised comedy.

So it was with some nervousness and trepidation that I dipped my toe back into the water last month and attended my first improv workshop since well before the pandemic. Surrounded by improv novices, I approached the entire exercise as a complete beginner, which required me to drop my image of myself as a seasoned and practised improviser, to empty myself of all I thought I knew, and start from the beginning.

There is something at once both liberating and terrifying about approaching practice in this way, and the concept of embracing and cultivating a beginner’s mind is an emergent theme in the latest issue of Coaching Today.

In The art of listening, Erik de Haan draws on his own experience and research and takes an almost forensic approach to exploring how we can hone this apparently most basic of coaching skills. How can we enhance our listening, develop our sensitivity as coaches and turn our listening into an art form?

Mentor coach Clare Norman argues that most of our accumulated beliefs about good coaching practice must first be unlearned in order to increase our effectiveness as coaches. By Unlearning to coach, and changing our mindset first, we enrich and evolve our skillset accordingly.

And, in conversation with Ioannes Alexiades of our BACP Coaching Supervision special interest group, in Bridging the gap, Nash Popovic highlights the fact that supervision of integrated practice already exists in some form, and demonstrates that we have much to learn from these pioneering supervisors and practitioners.

Our lead article in this issue explores the use of personality assessments in coaching. In This is not a test, the authors look at how psychometric tools are used in current coaching practice and offer a helpful guide for coaches. Whether you use these tools in your practice or not, I am sure you will gain some useful insights. We also focus on two specific areas of coaching practice: Existential analytic coaching and Solutions-focused career coaching.

All emphasise the rich diversity of coaching practice today, and – as my return to improv reminded me – that, however skilled, experienced and knowledgeable we may consider ourselves to be as practitioners, there is always more we can learn, let go of and unpack.