By Paul Heardman
Book review - Coaching and Trauma by Julia Vaughan-Smith

Book review - Coaching and Trauma by Julia Vaughan-Smith

Ever wondered why the inner critic and imposter syndrome are such recurring themes in coaching?  Where do these feelings even come from in the first place?  And what is it that drives people to burnout?  This masterful new book reveals the answers often relate to underlying trauma. 

Vaughan-Smith uncovers the elephant in the coaching room - how the client (or coach’s) trauma might impact the coaching work.  We learn how trauma is far more widespread than often realised, perhaps even part of the human condition.  Indeed the book gently challenges us to look at whether the coach’s own temptation sometimes to ‘rescue’ clients may come from our own “trauma biography”.   

The author is a highly experienced psychotherapist and coach.   Her book equips the coach to become more psychologically-minded while protecting coaching boundaries.   It is not the coach’s role to work with the client’s trauma.  But we can use an understanding of “there and then” dynamics of past trauma to guide the “here and now” of coaching.    There is a fascinating chapter on how this plays out in leadership and teams.  We learn practical tips for stepping into this work safely, not least by building compassion skills.  

This book is a great gift to coaching.  Reading it, you may view your clients, and maybe even yourself, in a whole new light.

This review first appeared in Coaching at Work - September/October 2019.  Reprinted with kind permission.

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Paul Heardman

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