Due to the Omicron variant wreaking havoc on public health and transport services over Christmas, the big family get together I'd planned for the holiday was hastily abandoned in favour of a quieter, more low-key solitary celebration. As a consequence, I’ve spent a lot of time this winter reflecting on the power of silence – how it manifests in nature and in the changing of the seasons.
I’m also noticing a parallel process with how silence shows up in my coaching work, and how – when used in the service of my client – the most powerful, and helpful, response I can offer is often to say nothing at all. When I give my client space to hear themselves – that’s usually where the magic happens. I ask a question and the air between us crackles with energy. I hear my question really land. Something changes. There's a breath, a pause. My client speaks, and it's though she's hearing herself for the first time. I repeat her words, mirroring them back to her verbatim. Another sacred silence. I let the words land, take root and blossom inside her, and in that moment, everything changes.
Embracing the sound of silence does not come easily and it's taken me a while to accept the idea that, in coaching, less is often more. In keeping with the theme of low-key celebrations, the power of silence is reflected in two key features in our 10th anniversary issue. In our cover feature, 'Love for the planet', Erik de Haan argues that the current crises facing our planet are also crises of leadership, and suggests that, in the face of toxic leadership, we can be more effective as coaches when we give our clients space to hear themselves and reflect on their thoughts, beliefs and actions. In similar vein, in 'Enough is enough' Becky Hall suggests that the mindset of never enough, that leads to overwhelm, overconsumption, burnout and unsustainable living – for ourselves and our planet – can be addressed by helping our clients to come from a place of love and abundance, rather than fear and scarcity.
We have a special focus on creative approaches in supervision practice, with contributions from supervisors and practitioners Claire Elmes, Shirley Smith and Jo Birch, who is also the subject of our Coaching in practice interview this issue. And in 'Growing together' we hear from June Webb, founder of Norfolk Clubhouse, on how she was inspired to set up a community-run mental health support service adopting the International Clubhouse model of peer support.
June’s story offers yet another example of the power of coaching to empower rather than enable – an approach that takes as its starting point the basic assumption that the person we're helping already has the seeds of the solution inside themselves. Sometimes, all they need is a little encouragement, a smidgen of challenge – and enough silence and space to reconnect with the part of them that already has the answers.
I hope you enjoy this anniversary issue and, as ever, if you're called to respond with a contribution of your own, do get in touch with me. I’d love to hear from you.
Subscribe for free access to the online journal
BACP Coaching division
BACP Coaching is a focus for coaches and coaching within BACP. Our members are counsellors and psychotherapists who work with a variety of models to integrate coaching and counselling.
Blogs and vlogs 2022
News and views from members, staff and clients
Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.