Reflective Practice for coaches – A review for coaches and supervisors by Viv Chitty

Iain McCormick is the founder of the Executive Coaching Centre in Auckland, a role which forms just part of his varied career in clinical psychology, coaching and consultancy.

His book ‘Reflective Practice for coaches: A guidebook for advanced professional development’ focuses on enhancing coaching practice through reflection. I found it to be an exceptionally detailed and highly informative, comprehensive, practical, evidence-based learning and development resource, and one which is relevant for all types of coach.

In Part 1 of the book McCormick explores reflective practice, including the history and theoretical basis for this way of working and evidence of its efficacy, as well giving guidance for how it can be both designed and undertaken – including practical exercises.

Part 2 considers how to set up group reflective practice sessions in order to develop the necessary dynamics so that sessions can ‘flourish’, including material on establishing psychological connection, safety and confidentiality. Practical suggestions for how to do this work are included as well as a chapter devoted to measuring the outcomes of these sessions.

Part 3 focuses on the nature of coaching including consideration of certain models that can give structure to sessions and conceptual models. The author also outlines his thoughts on what makes for successful coaching. There are specific chapters on executive coaching, research into coaching effectiveness and on rapid, solution-focused coaching.

Less experienced coaches will really benefit from the information he provides on methodology such as on contracting, coaching skills, giving feedback and when referral may be necessary.

Part 4 provides comprehensive information on using a variety of techniques (techniques that largely originated in therapeutic practice) in coaching and reflective practice sessions. Again, a useful range of self-assessment and reflective practice exercises is provided.

Finally, in Part 5 McCormick encourages the reader to reflect on what they have read and learnt from the book and suggests a variety of reflective practice questions to facilitate the application of this learning.

I highly recommend this book. It is of great use to coaches – particularly if a reader uses such practices in combination with personal supervision (McCormick stresses that reflective practice in itself not a replacement for supervision). Readers are encouraged and enabled to think about their coaching practice in order to further their insight – which can then be applied to their work. The book is also of great use to coach supervisors and those facilitating coach training.

Reference

McCormick, I. (2023) Reflective Practice for Coaches: ‘A guidebook for advanced professional development.’ Abingdon: Routledge