Archives: September 2020

Essential reading for any coach or HR specialist working with managers or leaders today

by Anna
Published on: September 20, 2020
Categories: Coaching
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Coaching and Trauma: From surviving to thriving” by Julia Vaughan Smith – A  Book Review

I rarely write book reviews or highly recommend books on these kind of platforms, but i believe the content and message of this book are so important that it should be considered essential reading for any coach, especially in the “new world” that is emerging, evolving and shifting beneath our feet since the start of this pandemic:

It has taken me a while to get around to writing a review of this book as there is so much useful information packed into it that I didn’t want rush it and found many parts that I need to reflect and write notes on.

In summary, I would highly recommend this book for coaches, and actually for any HR professionals working with leaders and managers.  Reflecting on my past coaching engagements, conversations and relationships with leaders and managers, it has made me realise how there are even more lense through which I could inquire to explore more alternatives not to better understand and support the client.

I was originally drawn to this book after reading some of the blogs written by the author and how these blogs challenged me to learn more about trauma and the “parts of selves” within a client.  It wasn’t until Covid-19 when I started to observe that some of the behaviors and utterances from clients seemed to be shifting that it then helped me connect the dots to how the sudden and significant change in work and personal environment / circumstances could be leading to different “parts” of the client selves coming to the surface.

The most important takeaway from this book for me, is, firstly, the importance of a coach increasing self-awareness and further developing the ability of self-reflection and  to see how, without this, we could unintentionally derail a healthy coaching conversation  or even collude with or “rescue” the client when that is not our role.  This also has helped me think more about how I can better contract with a client prior to the coaching engagement to set stronger foundations for success.

The second significant learning for me is that, just because we are not trained counselors, it does not mean we don’t have an obligation to understand the key elements and theory around trauma.  Of course, we should not step into the realm of counselling or therapy if not qualified to do so, but we do have a responsibility to understand the theories of trauma in order to identify when we might unintentionally be interacting with a client in an unhealthy way.

The third takeaway was how the book also provided me with practical support such as useful questions to have in my back pocket to ensure that I am supporting the client/coachee in engaging with their healthy self and also questions to support myself and make my own reflection practice even more useful. 

I think the final part that made the book so useful was how it helped me connect the dots to other theories and approaches that I have been applying through coaching such as somatic coaching, Ann Weiser Cornells work on Focusing and adult development theory (such as the work of Jennifer Garvey Berger )

I am so glad that I came across the book and am surprised that it is not better known so hope this book review will help others discover, read and benefit from it.

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