Halfway through my first session with a coach I thought; ‘this is what I want to do’. Returning home I opened an email from a-n offering places on the RD1st coaching course along with bursaries to attend. I applied immediately and was delighted to get a place. So began my coaching journey, which in this case involved train trips to Lancaster. Lovely Lancaster and The Dukes as host venue offered a warm welcome.

The course was intense and demanding as my head filled with new terminology and ideas and we began trying out coaching techniques. Being part of a group of dynamic arts practitioners was both challenging and very supportive. Swapping roles as coach and coachee allowed us to experiment and experience both sides of the equation. The process was enriching and rewarding. I could feel my life expanding. The training enabled me to look at areas of my own life as well as taking on this new way of deep listening.

Trainers Deb Barnard and Emma Haughton were uncompromising and encouraging with a confidence in the coaching process that was infectious. Their humour and compassion gave the training heart. Over the three training periods we developed bonds as a group and a sense of solidarity and commitment to share our coaching skills in our respective areas.

Since then I have begun my coaching practice; approaching fellow artists and arts organisations and being approached by curious friends. Before each session I experience a sense of anticipation and concern to make it as good a session as possible. As the session begins, a quiet calm takes over as I commit to the listening process, to staying in the moment with the person in front of me. I am developing a trust in my intuitive and simple questions to stimulate their further thought. It is interesting to observe ones own thoughts come and go, to see the temptation to get involved in their thinking.

Trusting in this deep listening is powerful. It creates an atmosphere of trust in the person, as this listening is based on the belief that everyone is their own expert. The coaching process offers access to thinking, opening up new avenues of ideas. The forward momentum is positive and focusses on what could be done, achieved, felt and created. I have been moved and encouraged by witnessing a new understanding unfold in the coachee and a determination to take positive action as possibilities unfurl.

“Listening this way, focussing and letting go all at once, letting reverence mix with scrutiny, holding dear the source – the human mind in front of you – is to raise your arms and twirl in the sun, to be permeated with that unique purpose that is human connection at its finest.” Nancy Kline, More Time to Think.


Since attending the RD1st coaching training course this summer – funded by and with a bursary from a-n – I have been developing my coaching practice. I completed my first 25 hours of coaching, working with a mixture of people including students and artists, which felt like a small milestone along the way to becoming a more fully fledged coach – once I have completed 100 hours. This seemed like a distant target, but yesterday I had my first coaching supervision session with three other participants from the course, supervised by Emma Haughton, one of our course tutors. The session enabled me to reflect, share, listen and learn from my own and others experiences which brought my coaching practice into clearer focus.

We spoke together using Skype and surprisingly after the initial oddness of a 4 way conversation, our shared listening and focussed attention made it possible to communicate freely. It was a joy to speak about things that had been challenging, to have that acknowledged, discuss ways forward and to find that others had similar concerns. Topics included the importance of boundaries, how to set up coaching with people so that they understand what to expect and what the responsibilities are of both coach and coachee.

Working in isolation can be a lonely process, through sharing this supervision I was supported and encouraged – emboldened even – by the power of the group and by the coaching process itself which was at the heart of the session. I am so grateful to the other group members and our supervisor Emma. So here’s to my own leap forwards in my coaching practice – that distant target seems a little closer now.

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