It has become a truism that we live in times of crisis. But what does this really mean, and how should coaches and indeed coaching supervisors respond?
This new book by Aubyn Howard shows how psychosynthesis, sometimes called a ‘psychology with soul’, offers a compelling, integrative approach “to work with both the inner and outer lives of their clients, navigating the past, present and future.” It challenges conventional notions of what coaching is for and how we do it.
The author explains how psychosynthesis coaching provides a framework for navigating questions of meaning and purpose, of values and crisis. Howard writes, “Psychosynthesis coaching goes beyond conventional performance and behaviourally oriented approaches” to support the client to uncover who they are most essentially, and what is emerging for them through the coaching process. It encourages reflection on what the client’s struggles might be revealing about new potential.
As Howard puts it, “there is a growing need to include and address the whole human being in organisations – so we need a psychology that includes the whole human being to help us do this. Psychosynthesis provides the psycho-spiritual context, methods and tools to help us to explore working at this level.” The core of this is a model called “tri-focal vision”.
Psychosynthesis coaching focuses at the level of being more than the doing. Easy to say, much harder to do. So Howard emphasises psychosynthesis’ essential requirement for coaches to do their own personal as well as professional development work, something too often neglected in other coaching approaches. The book includes an excellent chapter on personal development for the coach. Any coach or supervisor can benefit from the perspectives offered here, irrespective of whether or not they are interested specifically in psychosynthesis. But for working at depth and in a transformational way with clients, the book describes how and why this commitment is essential. There is also a powerful chapter debunking myths around the “therapy versus coaching” debate.
Overall, psychosynthesis is possibly one of the most powerful, transformative coaching approaches that many may not even have heard of. As Howard himself notes, “psychosynthesis coaching is a relatively niche and undiscovered”. Given what it has to offer, that is a great shame. This book will undoubtedly play an important part in changing that.
A version of this review first appeared in the January 2021 edition of Coaching at Work Magazine. Reprinted with kind permission.
Review by Paul Heardman: https://www.associationofcoachingsupervisors.com/supervisors/profiles/paul-heardman
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