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The role for coaching in psychological trauma

Noreen Tehrani and David A. Lane

Introduction

Trauma is everywhere impacting on most people at some point either directly or through secondary impacts from people we know (Breslau, 1989). The concept starts to appear in literature from the time of the Trojan Wars. In Sophocles’ “Ajax”, the play follows the story of a combat veteran who slips into depression and attempts to kill his commanding officer. In John Arden's Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance, toward the end of the play, Serjeant Musgrave exclaims “There used to be my duty: now there’s a disease”. The description of his night tenors maps across to PTSD (see Langley, 2004). Beveridge describes how Charles Dickens was involved in a serious rail accident and reported, a year later, “sudden vague rushes of tenor even when riding in a Hansom Cab”. In the nineteenth century neurologists started to describe post traumatic “railway spine” and there is brief mention of “traumatic neurasthenia” in Tuke’s 1892 Dictionary of Psychological Medicine and early case examples refer to “mental parasites” following road accident. However, controversy about the term and the role of organic and functional elements occur very early in the literature Knapp (1897).

By the time of the First World War the concept of shell shock appeared which implied nervous damage caused by the impact of shellfire. After the Second World War the reference manual DSM coined “battle fatigue” and “gross stress reaction” with the recognition that even the most robust could suffer. It was following the Vietnam war that the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder became established. It entered the psychiatric lexicon in the form of DSM 111 (and ICD classification). This has been regularly updated as understanding increased. This was elaborated upon through to DSM-IV and connected with non-combatant forms of trauma, such as the capsize of the car ferry, The Herald of Free Enterprise.

What has been increasingly understood is that such trauma can emerge from any extreme condition and can become even more difficult to resolve where multiple traumas occur in the form of a complex trauma for example childhood abuse followed by abuse in adulthood or exposure to a life-threatening accident.

The descriptors indicative of psychological trauma are listed in the DSM and ICD guidelines (see DSM V for current descriptors: www.ptsd.va.gov/ professional/treat/essentials/dsm5jptsd.asp). However, it is important to note that the emergence of DSM V was highly contentious (www.nhs.uk/news/ mental-health/news-analysis-controversial-mental-health-guide-dsm-5).

There is a tendency to think: about interventions for trauma as solely an individual therapeutic endeavour. We contend that it is also an organisation level matter and that ways to work with individuals, teams and systems need to be part of the approach (Taylor and Lane, 1991; Tehrani, 2011). This creates a role for coaches. However, coaches need to understand trauma and the way in which cunent events can trigger memories from the long distant past. If coaches work in this area, they have a responsibility to understand the boundaries of their role, when and when not to intervene. This chapter explores the skills that coaches bring, guidance on when to refer on to a trauma therapist and briefly looks at preventing secondary trauma and compassion fatigue. We draw extensively upon ideas presented by Tehrani et al. (2012).

Why coaches and trauma, is that not just for therapists?

There has been much discussion of the boundary between coaching and parallel fields (e.g. psychology, therapy). In particular coaches have been warned to stay away from anything that might be therapy. It is the case that coaches should not attempt to be therapists, yet the complexity of our lives and the contexts in which we work mean that there are ways for coaches to intervene which are outside of therapy bitt nevertheless helpful. The argument that therapeutic areas should be off limits because coaches do not have the training for it and it could be dangerous is correct, but only if a narrow view of distress, disengagement, and trauma are adopted. The boundary discussion has prompted research into the differences between coaching and therapy (Turner, 2008; Bachkirova, 2007; Spinelli, 2008) The debate includes the concepts that other disciplines bring to coaching and the transfer of ideas between disciplines without a research base to support it. (Lane, 2010) The boundary debates exist not only within coaching but rage fiercely within the therapeutic disciplines. (House and Loewenthal, 2008). It is not only the boundaries between coaching and therapy that may be fuzzy but also those within therapy as practices and disputes about what is and is not appropriate are as tense as they appear across the coaching therapy divide.

When we turn to consideration of trauma Taylor and Lane (1991) in a Special Issue of the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling introduced a number of papers that made clear that invention is not just about therapeutic work. They argue that we have to address four stages to generate a comprehensive approach -preparation, response, recovery and mitigation. A similar case was made in a position paper from the British Psychological Society on Psychological Aspects of Disasters (1991). Intervention involves:

Preparation to include design of environments to reduce causes of disaster or stress and burnout and the prevention and management of trauma in the workplace.

Response includes action taken in the immediate aftermath of a crisis or disaster.

Recovery is concerned with both assisting individuals and organisations through from initial victimhood, stuvival and then learning to thrive. Therapy has a role but so do coaching and organizational change processes.

Mitigation takes the longer-tenn view and looks at how organizations and individuals can generate new approaches to mitigate problems occurring in the future based on learning from past incidents or future scenarios.

This leads us to think about issues such as the influence of workplace culture, business continuity, mental health, organizational structures, the role of toxic organizational process, resilience, compassion fatigue and bumout and building organisations fit for a complex world. These are areas in which coaches have contribution to make. We explore in this chapter some of these issues.

Trauma and the workplace

When we think of the workplace, we have to recognise the wide range of factors affected by personal traumas (Tehrani et al., 2012):

  • • industrial accidents
  • • violence or bullying
  • • industrial exposru e tlrrough a work role in high risk environments
  • • contexts in which professional and public meet in distressing circumstances, nurse, social worker, police officer, ambulance or fire and rescue personnel
  • • sudden death of a much-loved colleague
  • • slow demise of a close work colleague from cancer
  • • unexpected mass redundancies

Some workplaces have a higher exposure to traumatic events; indeed they are almost routine. This can be direct exposure in the case of fire-fighters, paramedics and police officers or indirect when dealing with victims of rape or child abuse. Organisational effectiveness is impacted. In a scoping review for Public Health England, The British Psychological Society and College of Policing, Richens et al. (2019) reviewed fifty studies on early intervention. They found that such interventions help emergency responders to manage post incident trauma with the proviso that they are delivered in a way that respects organisational culture, have the support of the organisation and senior management, and incorporate existing social cohesion and peer support within teams. This detailed report is required reading for anyone working in this field or considering setting up an organisational response. It carefully evaluates various studies and provides guidance on approaches.

Some of these would be within the capability of properly trained coaches. Coaches work with clients, as a result of events such as a redundancy, bullying, conflict or relationship breakdown. It can happen that the current issue triggers an underpinning issue which is trauma related. This makes it important for all coaches to have some understanding of traumatic stress - the similarities and differences from everyday stresses and strains of life.

Understanding psychological trauma?

It is important to understand that trauma can happen to anyone - it arises from our evolutionary past - it is not a sign of weakness. The key to how our brain responds is through a primitive part called the amygdala which is highly sensitive to danger, (see Diagram 1 from Tehrani et al., 2012) Because the amygdala is unable to discriminate the dangerous from signals associated with danger a past event can trigger it to react. In a project (known as the Raid Trauma Network) working with staff who were subjected to bank raids, it was found that long after tire event someone, entering the bank, who shared features to tire raider could generate a fearful response. It was necessary for the employer to recognise that recovery could be a long process.

Tire evolutionary' benefit that the amygdala generates is the speed with which it can respond to danger signals. Essentially over time we develop templates of real and associated danger signals to which the amygdala reacts potentially causing anxiety, distress or fear. The hippocampus is the site of ways of coming to terms with these events, essentially th ough the creation of narratives. New memories are constructed which can be reconstructed to form more helpful stories that enable progress from a fearful state to an adjustment. Lying between the amygdala is a connection that metaphorically acts like a fuse which blows between the amygdala and the hippocampus, protecting the brain fr om being overwhelmed. Coaches need to understand the role of the amygdala its relationship to the hippocampus and the way traumatic events are processed. Useful theories for coaches to explore include the Dual Representation Theory' of Brewin (Brewin et al., 1996). This proposes that traumas experienced after early childhood create two types of memory: (1) verbally accessible, e.g., narr ative memories and (2) automatically accessible, e.g., situational

The Brain’s response to trauma or sensory images

Figure 6.1 The Brain’s response to trauma or sensory images. The ways these interact give rise to different ways of processing trauma. Kleim and associates (2009) explore a number of theories and experimental studies on memory processing after trauma. Their findings are compatible with the dual representation theory but also offer support to other approaches. The different approaches certainly should inform any intervention by a coach.

It is important to recognise that given the opportunity to reflect and make sense of the experience (creating a meaningflfl narrative that can be constructed and reconstructed) most people will recover from a traumatic exposure. They may still experience flashbacks but can leam to recognise that this is the amygdala reacting to related sensoiy features of the trauma experience (see Brewin et al., 2017 for an account of developing thinking about diagnosis of PTSD).

As a coach working with a client who has experienced a traumatic event the emphasis is on issues raised by the client - listening to their stoiy so that they feel heard. For example, Tehrani (Tehrani et al., 2012) provides a case to illustrate this:

If a client was involved in a car crash it is important to focus on the features of the crash and not explore other times when the client may have feared for his or her life or felt out of control. Whilst in therapy it may be appropriate to explore the significance of the date, people involved or meaning of the crash or early life experiences and attachments, this is not helpful to a traumatised person, who needs to deal with the trauma in a more straight-forward way.

Tehrani makes the points that:

  • • Processing trauma memories, particularly when these memories are difficult to access as they have become embedded in the amygdala in a sensory rather than verbal form, can be a slow process.
  • • Teaching clients relaxation skills to help them remain calm during the retelling of their experience is helpful but may take time.
  • • The amygdala does not release the sensory memories to the conscious awareness on demand, sometimes waiting for opportunities to disclose the encrypted fear in flashbacks, nightmares, recunent thoughts and behaviours.
  • • For a traumatised client these re-experiences of the traumatic event are regarded as fr ightening symptoms of a trauma disorder, rather than the key to help them regain well-being.
  • • Coaching clients need to recognise and accept these post-trauma responses as natural outcomes of their experience. This takes away fear and allows the meaning of the traumatic event to be created.

When might coaches help?

At the individual level the role of the coach is primarily to create a safe container for the client to tell their story. This can happen without the need to challenge or explore the emotional responses. It is about the opportunity to begin to create a

Table 6.1 Difference between trauma support coaching and counselling

Trauma Support Coaching

Counselling

• Structured

• Generally less structured

• Closing down

• Opening up

• Acceptance

• Challenging

• Limited focus

• Wide focus

• Client control

• Client risk taking

• Information provided

• Non-advisory

narrative that is open to reconstruction. As clients work with their narrative they can envisage movement from a victim status to someone who can learn from the experience and begin to thrive (Joseph, 2012, see Corrie and Lane, 2010 for an exploration of approaches to exploring narrative). However, coaches often bring other capabilities such as organisational development experience giving them the opportunity to contribute at the team and systems level. Table 6.1 shows the different skills and activities involved in dealing with an individual traumatised client (Tehrani et al., 2012).

According to Hawker, (Hawker et al., 2011) dealing with a traumatised client in an effective way requires a clear structure and an exploration, in a safe environment, of what happened. The focus should be on factual and sensory information, not the processing of thoughts and emotional responses. The process of acting as a psychological first aider is now widely established (see bulleted suggestions from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the World Health Organisation). PFA provides an opportunity to acknowledge and gain closure to traumatic experiences. A trauma supporter will accept the story and impressions of their client rather than challenging their recollection and provide the client with opportunities to dictate the speed and content of what they wish to describe. Unlike counselling which generally will not include providing information or advice, trauma support requires the supporter to provide information, education and exercises to help reduce the trauma symptoms. While some coaching psychologists reject an advice-giving role for others, it makes sense when appropriate to the client. This is one of those occasions. Suggestions from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network cover eight PFA Core Actions:

  • Contact and Engagement: To respond to contacts initiated by survivors, or to initiate contacts in a non-intrusive, compassionate, and helpfill maimer.
  • Safety and Comfort: To enhance immediate and ongoing safety and provide physical and emotional comfort.
  • Stabilization (if needed): To calm and orient emotionally overwhelmed or disoriented survivors.
  • Information Gathering on Current Needs and Concerns: To identify immediate needs and concerns, gather additional information, and tailor Psychological First Aid interventions.
  • Practical Assistance: To offer practical help to survivors in addressing immediate needs and concerns.
  • Connection with Social Supports: To help establish brief or ongoing contacts with primary support persons and other sources of support, including family members, friends, and community helping resources.
  • Information on Coping: To provide information about stress reactions and coping to reduce distress and promote adaptive functioning.
  • Linkage with Collaborative Sendees: To link survivors with available services needed at the time or in the future.

The essence of Psychological First Aid according to the WHO is:

  • • feeling safe, comiected to others, calm and hopeful;
  • • having access to social, physical and emotional support; and
  • • feeling able to help themselves, as individuals and communities.

These provide a number of ways in which the experiences of coaches can be useful. However, coaches need to recognise:

  • • the limits to their knowledge and competence. This includes dealing with some of the deeper issues which may be present in a client experiencing significant levels of trauma symptoms or where the traumatic events are complex or go back to early life abuse or losses.
  • • that in order for them to work effectively with a client there has to be a reasonable level of self-awareness and willingness to work on those activities which will reduce their anxiety and levels of arousal.
  • • the need to enable social support, which is extremely important to someone experiencing trauma symptoms. Research has shown that where a trauma victim has the support of their family, colleagues or friends they have a much better chance of recovery (Bryant and Harvey, 2000).
  • • that in dealing with a traumatised client there is a need to work not just with the client but to ensure that effort is put into encouraging the building or reestablishment of social networks and support.

How can coaches help provide support?

Much of the discussion in the trauma field has been on the negative impact. However, there is an increasing body of evidence to demonstrate that trauma can lead to personal growth (Joseph, 2009, 2012). Helping clients to grow is a key part of the capability of the coach. In addition, many coaches have experience of undertaking skill assessments. (Linley and Minlias, 2011). The aim of such assessment in trauma is to help clients remember their inherent abilities and strengths which may be applied to the current situation. There are several toolkits available which contain material which will be familiar to coaches who have worked to develop skills or journeys towards growth. Of particular value is the roads to resilience project from the American Psychological Association (see The Road to Resilience, www.apa.org/helpcentei7road-resilience). This provides a ten-step guide.

There are also many resources available from the National Center for PTSD (www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/assessment/screens/tsq.asp). These include screening questionnaires and practical tools for assisting clients. These tools help to create new learning and as a result increase capacity to make sense of distressing experiences. The practical use of such tools to build capacity fits well with a coaching approach.

Of particular value to coaches are a number of approaches to looking at trauma in the workplace (Tehrani, 2011) provides a wealth of information and practical ideas for understanding the contexts within which trauma impacts and ways to deal with it.

Coaching can be a process for supporting clients to achieve a valued goal or objective. Coaches therefore employ a range of skills all of which are useful when dealing with a traumatised client or supporting an organisation. Table 6.2 (Tehrani et al., 2012) highlights some of the skills.

Table 6.2 Coaching skills and post trauma support at individual and organisational level

Individual coaching skill

Description

Example

Goal setting

Coaches need to be able to identify clear and well-defined goals

Traumatised people find it hard to focus on the future, the use of SMART goals gives a direction and sense of a future which can be influenced

Reframing

Taking perceived problems and presenting the problem in a different light/ framework

The reframing for a client who is nervous about meeting people “That is really interesting - your reactions are helping you to think about how to deal with this meeting in a different way”

Observing

Being aware of body language and having an intuitive sense

Body language in people who have experienced trauma gives an insight to their inner experiences.Watch their posture, expression, skin tone and movements to help you understand

Active listening

Active listening which includes, open and closed questions, paraphrase and summary help to get into the client’s world

A traumatised person can find the experience of being listened and responded to accurately and non-judgementally extremely helpful in the process of teasing out pre-conscious trauma memories from the Amygdala

(Continued)

Table 6.2 (Continued)

Individual coaching skill

Description

Example

Empathy

The ability to get into the trauma victims world and to respond accurately to their experiences

Empathy helps clients to feel less isolated and alone.There are some dangers for the coach in becoming emotionally empathetic as this can lead to burnout or compassion fatigue

Immediacy

Providing clear and specific feedback on the client’s actions and responses in the session

This skill is used to test out hunches and intuition as well as to provide positive feedback on achievement.The feedback should be observational and non-judgemental

Respect

Checking out how the client is feeling and what they want shows respect and also gives the client some control over the session

For many victims of trauma control has been taken away. Showing respect and consideration gives back control and enables them to decide on how they would like to work with their coach

Supporting

Making sure

Change is not easy for anyone, even more

change

that targets are manageable, efforts are rewarded and support is available

so for a trauma victim. Building in rewards, acknowledgement of effort and believing in your client’s ability to recover is essential

Building

Understanding

Having policies to deal with issues such as

organisational

how organisations

bullying provides an organisational response

resilience

can be resilience to toxic events and build structures to support staff (and customers) to address them.

but does not address the way in which organisations can themselves be toxic. Organisational resilience requires changes at a structural level that create positive working environments

Creating safe

Ensuring the

Unless staff feel able to challenge

containers

conditions for staff to feel safe to raise challenging issues at an individual and systems level

inappropriate or bad practice, organisations will not be safe spaces. It is not enough to claim that anyone can raise issues. Staff (or customers) must genuinely feel that such feedback is welcomed and that they will not be victimised for raising it

Individual coaching skill

Description Example

Ensuring organisational preparation response recovery and mitigation for a complex world

Creating coherent Some organisational cultures are themselves plans are prepared toxic and create trauma. An organisation that that address tolerates bullying from staff who are high

scenarios for income generators while claiming a policy

dealing with that bullying is unacceptable constitutes

toxic events a trauma organised system. In addition to

such as bullying, preparing for and responding to external

organisational threats an organisation has to look at itself

disorganisation and and the internal threats that generate trauma, disasters. Ensuring A coherent and effective policy cannot be that plans are generated unless this internal review is

enacted to provide undertaken a timely response to events. Enabling recovery processes by managing expectations and alternative working and provision of coaching or therapeutic inputs as needed.

Mitigating long term effects through provision of support and generating new learning from events to review and adapt the preparation for the future

A case example of combining approaches from coaching and therapy within an organisational process

On 11 September 2001,1 (DL) received a call from one of my clients. She asked if I was watching the television, which I was. In her organisation, a trading company, the screens were permanently switched on. Staff members in London saw, as it happened, the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in one tower of which, their colleagues were based. She asked if I could get to London immediately to discuss how we might set up a support system in what was a very chaotic situation.

It was also a mass attack that was witnessed as it happened across the world with messages from inside the Towers emerging in real time and colleagues, friends and relatives seeing the destmction of their loved ones played over and over again. While I had experience of other disaster situations and had written on the matter as well as provided trauma counselling services, this was the first time I had seen and heard the unfolding story alongside those I would be helping. On arriving in London, it was clear that many individuals had been deeply affected as they personally knew many working in the Twin Towers. They had both to deal with their emotions and fears and make decisions which had significant business and market consequences.

The organisation was clear that it wanted to do whatever was the most appropriate for their staff, and looked to me to assess the situation, and to devise and implement a planned response. However, there was no agreed collective framework for such a service. We were all on an individual journey from the unknown.

How might you have developed the intervention in this situation? Consider this before reading further.

Here is what actually occurred.

Initially, it seemed that an objective might be quickly foimd. The organisation stated that it wanted to do what was best for the staff and I certainly wanted to devise a worthwhile response. What was most appropriate was unclear, given the circumstances and how much of the situation was unknown. Dealing with personal reactions while still needing to make business decisions represented the first potential conflict. Where do you look for answers in known evidence-bases in order to create a structured decision model?

The literature on disaster management had developed rapidly over the previous few years from a low base in the 1980s to significant research by this time. During the late 1980s and early 1990s a model of practice had grown up which combined counselling, coaching and critical incident debriefing initially, with longer tenu work to alleviate PTSD where necessary However, by the late 1990s this research was being challenged and elements of it were seen by some as unhelpful or harmful while still being championed by others. As a result, the literature did not lend itself well to a structured decision-making model and in fact, added to the confusion. In terms of the organisation the response was highly varied some seemingly minimally affected and others significantly so. The organisation had to function, closure was not a considered option and the work for staff during that period was intense. After multiple coaching conversations condrrcted over two days with staff at several levels a shared sense emerged which could form the basis for a Mission statement.

The elements included:

  • 1 To support staff in the immediate aftermath of the incident to continue functioning in their role, (this was largely coaching) and to support those who did not feel able to do so without prejudice to their position (this was largely counselling); to provide management debriefing (based on a team coaching model) across the organisation to allow issues that needed to be addressed to emerge and enable decision-making to address these; to support managers (a mixture of individual coaching and team coaching) in dealing with their own responses while providing structures to help them support their staff.
  • 2 Following the immediate response, to set up continued debriefing, coaching and counselling as needed so that the staff could feel fully recovered and in the longer term seek to mitigate continuing impacts and learn from the events to better prepare in the future. The whole framework was to be kept under review and adjusted as circumstances changed.

In terms of the disaster literature a decision model for the response, recovery and mitigation phases was established (Taylor and Lane 1991). This included structured decision models where the literature supported it (for example debriefing sheets were provided and counselling services established). It also included emergent decision-making models to respond to rapidly changing circumstances; a short decision chain was set up so that different modifications to service could be introduced as needed. A senior manager was assigned to liaise with the support team daily with authority to assess and decide.

When do coaches need to pass cases to a trauma therapist/GP?

We have to recognise that not all who have been impacted by trauma are suitable for coaching. Some will require a much more in-depth approach, for example, trauma informed cognitive behavioural therapy, to help them deal with their experience (Bisson et al., 2013). Steps that a coach should consider are:

  • • an assessment prior to coaching to see if the traumatic memories and responses require a more specialist approach
  • • recognising the features of acute stress, anxiety, depression, traumatic stress and dissociation and making an appropriate referral will help the client to get the most effective support
  • • establishing a means to monitor their clients and identify where, despite their best intentions the trauma symptoms begin to increase or where there are other concerning features such as substance abuse, self-harming or dissociation
  • • consider referring a client to a trauma psychologist or their GP if there is no obvious improvement within a relatively short period

Table 6.3 (Tehrani et al., 2012) provides an indication of the help that can be provided by coaches, trauma psychologists and psychiatrists.

Table 6.3 Trauma support available from a coach, trauma psychologists and psychiatrist

Domain

Coaching

Trauma psychology

Psychiatry

Intention

Increase potential to achieve post trauma growth

Identify and remove blocks to psychological wellbeing

Diagnose and treat psycho-pathology

Underpinning

People can learn skills

People are

Some mental

beliefs

to deal with issues/ situations through systematic engagement and reinforcement

resourceful and given support will solve their problems and achieve their goals

conditions

are caused by underlying medical or psychiatric malfunctions and need treatment

Benefits

Forward looking in Increasing the range of skills and abilities based on the needs of the individual

Recognises and addresses patterns of behaviour which may get in way of achieving goals

Can identify and treat psychiatric disorders which may contribute to unwanted symptoms or behaviours

Disadvantages

Most coaching models do not deal with the complexity of trauma. Coaches may not recognise the psychological/ psychiatric problems

Some trauma psychologists may not pay attention to organisational issues or be aware of the personal skills required to deal with trauma responses.

Psychiatrists may adopt a medical model approach, ignoring the impact of the traumatic event or other social issues

When

When there is an

Where there are

Where the

appropriate

openness to explore and self-awareness and an ability to accept some responsibility for actions

some unresolved issues from the past which may be getting in the way of positive solutions and personal growth

underlying problem is relates to a psychiatric disorder which has caused or been caused by the trauma

Importance of supervision when coaching traumatised clients

While it is recognised that supervision is important for coaches (Canoil, 2006,2007; Cavanagh, et al., 2016) many coaches report that they do not use it or see the benefit (Lane, 2011 ; Grant, 2012). Working with trauma requires the coach to be supervised by someone with the appropriate background to be aware of the dangers in undertaking this kind of work (McNabb, 2011). The role of supervision in trauma-based work has been explored explicitly by Tehrani and Levers (2016). This makes clear that coaches need to be cognisant of the potential impact of hearing trauma stories on their own w’ell-being. In particular empathetic listening, essential to the w'ork, can also create thoughts and feeling in the coach similar to those experienced by the client (Figley, 2002; Morrissette, 2004). The development of secondary trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout are clear signs of the coach becoming vicariously affected by their work with trauma (Taylor and Lane, 1991). Tehrani and Levers (2016) make the point that before starting this work the coach should have supervision in place and take personal responsibility for themselves and their need to build then emotional resilience and emotional resotuces. This includes the areas that all coaches should consider in their work such as recognising any personal unresolved or ongoing traumas and that they have a wide range of social support.

Tehrani (Tehrani et al., 2012) suggests that when selecting a supervisor coaches need to ensure that the supervisor is prepared to:

  • • Assess whether you have the personal characteristics and personal strengths to engage in the work.
  • • Identify and deal with signs of emotional distress and to explore these during supervision.
  • • Recognise and handle parallel process, transference and countertransference played out in the relational dynamics of the supervision.
  • • Help you to build a range of personal coping strategies and networks.
  • • Debiief particularly difficult or distressing stories.
  • • Reward successes and recognise good work.
  • • To tell you when they feel a case needs to be referred on for trauma therapy.

There are a number of interesting areas of development in trauma supervision. These include the role of culturally informed trauma supervision, (Bledsoe, 2012; Levers, 2012) integrative and systemic approaches, (Levers, 2012) and the use of relational transactional concepts (Etherington, 2009). Gray et al. (2016) refers to developmental and social role models. Lane et al. (2016) argue that it is important to build a personally effective model of supervision and provide a framew'ork to do so. They present a framework that considers the purpose of supervision, the perspectives that inform it and the process for providing it all based on specific professional contexts. In the same book psychologists and others from a range of clinical, health, forensic, educational, sport, counselling, coaching and work and organisational contexts outline how they interpret the purpose, perspectives and process they use to undertake supervision. In the specific coaching context Gray et al. (2016) provide an account of supervision in coaching and explores the idea of stages of development for supervisors.

In conclusion

There is an important and emerging conversation to be had about the role for coaches and coaching psychologists to facilitate the creation of resilient organisations and provide support to individuals and teams following traumatic events. They are not acting as therapists (and should not attempt to do so) but they can provide a structured process of support. The skills that coaches bring, in terms of understanding organisational process, building teams and enhancing individual and organisational resilience offer real value to understanding response to trauma. The skills that individuals develop within a coaching process assist clients seeking to come to terms with such events and build the sense that they can move from being a victim, to surviving the current dilemmas to a future in which they can thrive. There are boundary issues which we have to respect. Nevertheless, the benefits of a coaching offer are clear. Trauma is an area to which coaching and coaching psychology can make a contribution. The conversations need to happen.

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Chapter 7

 
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