The Emergent Practitioner
A Whole Person Approach
'Becoming expert [is] an unending process with an elusive goal' (Kneebone, 2020)
Edna Murdoch has said "Who you are is how you coach/supervise". Yet 'Who I am' is a narrative we create and can alter; and it may be useful to do that. But to effect deeper change, I find it more helpful to focus on the coach's felt experience of 'How I am', and how that translates into observable behaviour*.
Whatever our intentions, it is through our words and actions that others experience us. We deepen our sense of 'How we are' through: feedback from those around us, particularly our clients; reflection on our own or with trusted others, including co-vision; and mindfulness practice (see Awareness page). We notice how our thoughts, feelings,
memories, hopes, fears, beliefs and values, and the self-stories or narratives we weave around them, play out in our behaviours from moment to moment; and how this can change when we feel under pressure. By continually refining those behaviours in the light of experience, we both become more authentic and grow in expertise.
This model, which applies irrespective of the particular approach, tools and techniques you may use, draws on the energy of the co-vision relationship to stimulate growth by using the mind's capacity for surprise to develop more effective ways of thinking and behaving and turn them into embodied habits**.
The effectiveness of the model depends on working directly with the brain's remarkable capacity to adapt - its neuroplasticity. To do this takes commitment and determination. The elements are:
(Re-) Establish Relationship: To come together as equals in an open-hearted learning partnership with a clear aim and agreed professional boundaries (see Power page); and at each meeting, to reconnect to each other's mood and feelings and re-establish a 'safe haven' and a 'secure base' (see Attachment page).
(Re-) Engage Purpose: How do you want to grow as a coach? How does that align with your life purposes? Your answers will give direction and meaning to our work.
Joint Inquiry into issues arising from your experience of and reflections on your work with a specific client: What was unexpected, took you by surprise? How did that make you feel? What did you think and do or not do? How did the client respond?
Assess Insights: What insights have emerged from our inquiry? What light do they throw on your practice? Do they suggest a need for different ways of doing things?
Identify New Behaviours: What might be a more effective way of thinking and behaving? Are you willing to commit to trying it out?
Test & Refine: How and when is the best time to bring the new behaviour into play? How does it feel when you do? Is it working for your clients? Does it need refining?
Practice & Embody: To repeat and further refine the desired behaviour consistently until the associated neural connections are fully established and it becomes a habit.
Integrate: To integrate the newly-embodied habit into the repertoire of behaviours that is the new 'How I am' - ready to go round the loop again!
Insights may emerge in one meeting or over several. Each embodied insight will take you a step further on the ongoing journey of developing your insight and expertise.
*For my CaW article, see https://www.co-visor.com/post/not-who-i-am-but-how-i-am
** Adapted from Dan Siegel's work on interpersonal neurobiology
and from John Dewey's pragmatic theory of inquiry.