Book Review: ‘Developmental Coaching- Working with the Self’ – Bachkirova

Martin Hill – Senior Tutor

“Developmental Coaching- Working with the Self”- Tatiana Bachkirova (2011) Open University Press, McGraw Hill Education

This is a book that is a stretching and demanding read for the reader, with excellent referencing to sources and also designed to advance the author’s new theory of developmental coaching.

The main intention of the author was to “develop a practical approach that is underpinned by theory” and what I think is an achievement for the book is that the theory is specifically linked to the field of coaching and is supported by concepts, examples, exercises and case studies to provide a connection between theory and practice.

The author is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and this field of knowledge and expertise is clearly reflected in the confident way that the author propounds the theoretical basis for her approach, supporting it with a critical review and application of a variety of psychological concepts.

The book runs to some 195 pages of text with an impressive 13 page bibliography which is an admirable testament to the comprehensive range and nature of the author’s research.

It is structured in three parts.

In Part One the concept of “self” is examined and the author propounds three main elements for understanding the self “sense of “I” as a pre-reflective self-consciousness; “ego” as an executive centre and “self-models” constructed by a narrator (conscious and reflective linguistic function of the mind/brain).” I particularly liked the examination of the notion of “mini-selves” and how this influences the ego. I found Part One the most challenging part of the book to read, but it is worth persevering with.

Part Two deals with the theory and framework for developmental coaching.
I liked the linkage to the three notions of self and the examination of the obstacles to organic change (low quality of information; the obvious behavioural route and interruption from the narrator). The examination of the obstacles I think provides a useful resource to draw upon when considering their own coaching interactions; and will also be of use to coaching supervisors as another tool to assist the reflective learning and development of their supervisees.

Part Three investigates coaching according to the developmental framework. Once again the linkage of the three notions of self and an examination of the challenges/ factors that coaches may be faced with in respect of each of those three notions, I think provides some interesting food for thought for all coaches and brings a different dynamic to dealing with coaching interventions.

I think that the book will be of most use to what the rear of the dust jacket describes as “students of advanced coaching programme” as it is certainly a publication that has some academic rigour. If you are looking in for a “dip in and deliver” book I would suggest that this is not the publication for you- but for those willing to invest a little time and effort and with an interest in exploring new concepts and theories to assist with your coaching practice then it is well worth investigating. Similarly for coaching supervisors I think that the theory, concepts, examples, exercises and case studies will provide a valuable additional resource to draw upon.

Martin is currently Lead Tutor on the UK ILM Level 7 Certificate in Executive Coaching and Mentoring programme.  You can read more of his book reviews here.

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