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Art in Coaching: A Beautiful Thing


Recently, I was in deep thought and reflecting on how engaging in artistic interests gives me quite a bit of enjoyment and actually makes me feel good. By “good”, I mean focused, calm, content, and generally positive. Well, that thought process led me to think of ways I can include more creativity in my work, because, why the heck not?


Let me be specific. In my learning design work, of course, there is an inherent need to be creative. In developing what is mostly e-learning, there are many elements I need to incorporate into the design – not the least of which is coming up with creative ways to gain and keep a learner’s attention and make the learning experience interactive, engaging, and effective. But that’s not the work I was referring to when I was thinking about including more creativity.


I was reminded of a friend, an extremely talented musician, Max Eve, who’s not only a legit badass rock star (for real – check out Halcyon Way) but also a Certified Music Practitioner - a “specially-trained musician [who] provides live acoustic music at bedside, one-on-one, for therapeutic purposes.” It was remembering the work that Max does that gave me the idea that I could and should incorporate art into my own coaching practice. So, what did I do? I asked my good friend Google to find some information for me and what happened next was nothing short of really cool!


After a brief search, I happened upon the website of Anna Sheather, an APECS Accredited Master Executive Coach, Art-Based Practitioner, and author of the book, “Coaching Beyond Words – Using Art to Deepen and Enrich Our Conversations.” I was immediately delighted to find that art in coaching is indeed a thing – albeit a relatively new thing, although art in therapy has been around for a while. A few emails and an inquiry later, I was in conversation with Anna who is quite lovely.


As I expressed my interest in an upcoming workshop, she was gracious enough to offer her time to meet once she returned from holiday We did meet, and I grew even more enthusiastic about learning more about her work and the prospect of joining in a budding community of practitioners who are also interested in expanding their coaching practices to include art. What a conversation we had.


So, why am I sharing this? Well, it’s because there is a value in spreading positive things, and just one of those is a workshop that’s planned for this coming November, hosted by Anna and delivered virtually over four days. This is going to be a great workshop and I am already pretty excited about it. I want to share some information for anyone interested in learning more about art in coaching. So, here are the insightful words directly from Anna Sheather herself, who has dedicated much of her time researching, creating an accredited workshop, and bringing awareness about this important body of work, which is growing and even attracting attention from some in the psychology community.


“Art in coaching is about working with our clients (coachees) in a way that gives them access to a deeper level of personal awareness, understanding, and meaning. Working in this way deepens and enriches our coaching conversations in a way that purely verbal coaching cannot. It creates transformational shifts in perceptions and understanding that can lead to significant changes in personal development and growth. As someone who both coaches and paints, my research and experiential evidence support my firm belief that art has an important role in coaching today.


What do I mean by art? When I talk about art, I don’t mean masterpieces; I mean any image that someone produces which means something to them. The art is their imagery made visible and tangible through using line, form, shape, and colour, whether it is drawing, painting, sculpture, or collage. It is about personal expression, and we can all do this. As coaches we facilitate this process, building a bridge between our client and their image.


As well as practicing, I have also written articles, given talks, and continue to research this powerful way of working. I have also developed a number of workshops and programmes for coaches who also want to develop an art-based practice. Through these, I share my practice.”


As someone who’s always had a creative flare, I can attest to the power of art to transform. I invite you to join me in attending Anna’s workshop coming up in November 2022 and again in March 2023. If you are interested in further information, you can learn more at her websites: www.artincoaching.co.uk and www.elancoaching.co.uk


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