Kim Morgan, Managing Director of Barefoot Coaching, shares her passion for integrated practice in an interview with Eleonora Rudolf of the AICTP Journal.
What was it that attracted you to train as a therapist and later as a coach?
When I look back I realise I didn’t really stand a chance of being anything else: my mother was a probation officer, mediator and counsellor. When she retired she set up a charity to support lonely, housebound and elderly people. My father was one of life’s natural mentors and my parents spent much of their lives doing voluntary work. When I started school I found myself in the role of informal ‘playground counsellor’. As an adult I trained in a couple of different psychotherapeutic / counselling disciplines but I resisted the ‘man of one book’ approach and spent the next few years exploring and learning other ways of working with my clients, including NLP, hypnotherapy and solution-focused therapy.
Eventually, (about 25 years ago), I decided to integrate into my work all the various approaches I valued. I called my work ‘personal development’ until I discovered something called ‘coaching’ which at that time was arriving in the UK from the US. I realised that what I was doing was probably coaching! I decided to create a coach training course, integrating and incorporating into the course all the different models and approaches I had learned over the years. The course was accredited by the University of Chester as a Postgraduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching and it is still being delivered today to hundreds of students every year.
How do you integrate therapeutic approaches into your coaching practice? Can you give us an example?
Because I have been operating an integrated model of coaching for so long, I don’t focus on the distinction between therapeutic and coaching approaches. I am now a coach and not a therapist and therefore I tend to lean on my previous therapeutic experience and dip into models and approaches from therapeutic disciplines. I believe that working in an integrated way is about having the behavioural flexibility to choose the right approach, at the right time, for the particular client and the particular presenting issue. I work within a wide bandwidth of approaches, from non-directive through to a more directive approach, if required. So Jack of all trades or master of none?….or is it having the ability and flexibility to dance in the moment with a client, to give them what they need?
What does a ‘typical’ day look like for you?
There is no such thing as a typical work day for me. I divide my time between 1:1 coaching, team coaching, coach training, coaching supervision, coach supervision training, grief recovery work, keynote speaking, organising coaching events, writing for Psychologies magazine and other publications, writing coaching books, working with organisations, leading the Barefoot Coaching team and managing all aspects of the business. The only common theme to ‘typical’ days for me is that there is a lot of work and very little play! This year, with the help of someone – coach or therapist - I want to understand what prevents me from taking more ‘me-time’ – it’s been a repeating pattern in my life!
What has been the steepest challenge for you in setting up your company, Barefoot Coaching? How did you overcome this and what did you learn from it?
It’s a long time ago now but I still remember that one of the biggest challenges was learning to sell ‘myself’ and becoming comfortable with a certain amount of necessary trumpet-blowing. I realise that having ‘rescuer’ tendencies (commonly found in people in helping professions) and being a salesperson are not easy bedfellows. I overcame this challenge early in my career when I coached a very successful businessman. When he called to arrange our coaching sessions I quoted him a very low fee – and I think I apologised too! At the end of our sessions he said “I would like you to tell me what you think I have gained from being coached by you. I would like you to imagine that you are me and to think of all the ways in which I experience you as a coach. I would then like you to tell me how much you would like me to pay you.” I wriggled in my chair for a long time and every time I suggested an amount, he said, “It’s not enough.” We eventually agreed on an amount but he said he would have paid five times as much. He also told me that he contacted me because he had heard great things about me from other people but, when I was so uncomfortable discussing fees with him, he had doubted my professionalism and capability. His honest feedback and challenge were gifts to me. He had no agenda other than for me to understand the value that he had got from our coaching sessions and to encourage me to put a meaningful value on what I was doing.
Looking back over your career so far can you tell us what is it that ‘lights your passion’? What is your biggest motivating factor?
Out of all the things I do, I think it has to be training people to be coaches and seeing them learn and develop on the training course and afterward. Thousands of students have graduated from our coach training programmes and we are still in touch with most of them, celebrating their successes and tracking their progress. We have created a tribe of coaches out there in the world and one of my greatest pleasures is knowing that every one of these coaches is supporting the development, growth and change of other people in the world.
What message would you give to practitioners who are just beginning to work in an integrated way?
I think it is much easier today to work in an integrated way. Historical differences between coaching and therapy are less relevant today and lines are blurring and barriers are coming down. Some research suggests that this blurriness enables those who would not have chosen to see a therapist to access support via coaching. The public is more knowledgeable about personal and professional development and about choosing the way in which they want to work on their development. The message I would give to practitioners who are beginning to work in an integrated way is: “Know thyself." Be clear to yourself and others about your capabilities and importantly, about your limitations. Engage in clear and robust contracting about all the ways in which you will be working with your client and attend to your boundary management.
What is your vision for the future of integrated coaching? How do you think the professional landscape will look in 5 years time?
My hope for the future is full professionalization of the coaching industry, with clear standards and guidelines in the profession. In terms of integrated ways of working I hope for collaboration, sharing best practice, no hierarchies or rivalries – between professional bodies, between training schools, between practitioners or even within our heads and hearts as practitioners!
This interview was originally published in the Journal of the Association of Integrative Coach-Therapist Professionals, February 2017. For more information on the AICTP visit their website: http://www.aictp-org.uk/ and you can follow them on twitter via @AICTP