1st Edition

The Theory and Practice of Relational Coaching Complexity, Paradox and Integration

By Simon Cavicchia, Maria Gilbert Copyright 2019
    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    The 'relational turn' is a movement affecting a range of disciplines including neuroscience, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, organisational consulting and, more recently, coaching. Its primary focus is on the centrality of human relating in determining how individuals develop, make meaning and function individually and collectively.

    In The Theory and Practice of Relational Coaching: Complexity, Paradox and Integration, Simon Cavicchia and Maria Gilbert expand existing coaching theory and practice to focus on the implications of the relational turn for how coaches and clients think about the nature of identity, the self, change, learning, and individual and organisational development. Drawing on perspectives as varied as relational neuroscience, the relational foundations of personality development, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, shame, vulnerability, complexity and systems ideas, the authors shed light on many of the paradoxes and challenges facing coaches and their clients in today’s fast-paced, volatile and uncertain organisational environments. These include holding tensions such as the uniqueness of individual needs with the requirements of organisational contexts, managing multiple stakeholder expectations and networks and balancing linear approaches to change with adjusting to emerging and unpredictable events.

    Given the ever-increasing volatility, complexity and uncertainty that coaches and their clients face, The Theory and Practice of Relational Coaching guides the reader through a series of illuminating perspectives, examples and practical suggestions. These will enable coaches to integrate a more relational orientation in their work and extend their range and that of their clients for responding creatively to the challenges of modern organisational life. The book will appeal to coaches and coaching psychologists in practice and training, as well as counsellors and psychotherapists retraining as coaches.

    SECTION 1 The relational turn and coaching

    1 Setting the scene for an integrative relational approach to coaching in challenging times – uncertainty, paradox and complexity

    2 Who is it who is in a coaching relationship?

    3 Relational coaching and change – two distinct and interrelated approaches to change

    4 Selves in context – navigating and negotiating organisational life

    SECTION 2 Practice perspectives

    5 Coming together – unpacking the coach-coachee-context constellation

    6 Intersubjectivity 1 – understanding relationship dynamics from a developmental perspective

    7 Intersubjectivity 2 – the co-creation of the coaching relationship, meaning and change

    8 Relational integration – implications for practice

    SECTION 3 Applications

    9 Shame and vulnerability – the experiences that dare not speak their name

    10 Perspectives on contracting from a relational perspective

    11 Coaching in organisations – culture, norms and novelty

    12 Feedback and assessment

    Concluding thoughts: Relational perspectives on the development of coaches, ethics and supervision


    Simon Cavicchia is an executive coach, a UKCP registered Gestalt psychotherapist, consultant and supervisor. He was Joint Programme Leader of the MSc in Coaching Psychology at the Metanoia Institute in London for eight years. He divides his time between executive coaching, consulting and teaching on postgraduate programmes in coaching and organisational development. He is currently on the faculty of the Ashridge Masters in Executive Coaching.

    Maria Gilbert is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist, a UKCP registered Integrative psychotherapist, BACP accredited supervisor and coach. For many years, she was the Joint Head of the Integrative Department, the Supervision Training and the MSc in Coaching Psychology at the Metanoia Institute in London, and a Visiting Professor at Middlesex University.

    "This is the most rigorous introduction to relational coaching to date. The entire field is placed in a historical and psychological perspective, with sound referencing to all the relevant sources. Not only is this the best handbook you will find, reading the philosophy and case studies will allow you to pick up and implement in your own practice the subtle differences between traditional and relational approaches. This book is all about attending to coaching, the relationship and your client as they appear in the moment, rather than attending to some pre-set idea about what coaching should be. In this sense there is a freshness and depth permeating from every page. Mostly, this relational turn towards your own fresh lived experience will be a priceless reward that you reap from reading this exceptional book. Underpinning all this you are invited into a series of wonderfully crafted case examples, from which I personally learned huge amounts." - Erik de Haan, Director of Ashridge Centre for Coaching, UK and Professor of Organisation Development, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    "This book offers an overdue corrective to the cause-and-effect assumptions that govern many organisations with respect to what it means to lead and the support that managers need. Instead of tools and processes, Simon Cavicchia and Maria Gilbert offer a rich description – supported by rigorous intellectual foundations – of the dynamics of an effective coaching relationship. This is not a manual for the coach doing the coaching to the coachee. It’s a manifesto for coach and coachee co-creating the meaning of their work, taking into account the complex and often contradictory influences that bear on them. It is a book that brings into the conversation the dynamics of power and politics that shape working life, challenging the notion that these can be bracketed out in the name of neutrality. It helps coaches navigate the tricky path between serving the organisation that pays the bill and the needs of an individual coachee. The relational approach is not simply about establishing a close and mutually respectful relationship. It’s an acknowledgement that what the coach and coachee have to do only ever emerges from the specificities of the relationship between them and the context in which they work. Put aside pre-conceived recipes, the authors say, and connect with the person before you." - Martin Vogel, co-founder, The Counter-Consultancy

    "The Theory and Practice of Relational Coaching: Complexity, Paradox and Integration is nothing less than a tour de force. Simon Cavicchia’s unique blend of eloquence, erudition and warmth combines with Maria Gilbert’s decades of experience as a consummate educator to create an exceptional book. It takes the reader on a rich journey, starting with scene setting and philosophy. It covers the main theories which underpin an integrative relational approach and describes in detail all aspects of a here and now relational encounter. After a deep dive into ‘the micro dynamics of relational interaction’ the authors then gently move outwards to the subtleties and forces of the organisational context. Quite simply, this book says everything about relational coaching, its theories and practice. The authors critique and integrate an extraordinary depth and breadth of theories from all the psychological traditions. This alone makes the book an education in itself! I recommend it not only for coaches, but for psychotherapists and counselling psychologists who have made ‘the relational turn’."- Charlotte Sills, Professor of Coaching, Ashridge Business School, UK

    "Simon Cavicchia and Maria Gilbert draw on their substantial depth of experience and expertise in the fields of executive coaching and psychotherapy to show that these are not separate but essential counter-parts enabling us to strive towards higher levels of performance. This is an essential and timely publication for all serious coaches and business professionals who are struggling to apply the 'rational' linear left brain models of coaching to an increasingly fast moving and complex world. It covers the foundational background to this holistic way of apprehending our changing world enabling one to weave together top-down linear and bottom-up emergent perspectives and manoeuvre deftly between them. I thoroughly recommend this publication for all aspiring to success on the sometimes stormy oceans of complexity." - Syed Azmatullah, MA, PhD; Psychotherapist, Executive Coach, author of The Coach’s Mind Manual

    "This is a book for coaches, clients, and anyone interested in the delicate business of human relating.  Spanning a range of dimensions gracefully it is profound yet accessible, broad and thorough, with a clear advocacy that leaves me feeling invited to make up my own mind.  Simon Cavicchia and Maria Gilbert have managed to offer an in-depth historical overview of different perspectives and to paint a lively picture of the complex and subtle nature of current, integrated approaches.  This book is theoretically sound and practical, encouraging and provocative.  The case studies are lively and show the messy nature of this work and the difficulty of bringing awareness to the process at all times. Just what we have been waiting for." - Kathleen King, PhD; researcher and co-editor of Organisational Consulting: @ the Edges of Possibility and The Change Doctors: Re-imagining Organisational Practice