At the recent EMCC Research Conference in Greenwich, the opening keynote gave Professor David Gray the opportunity to explore the theme of liminality and fragmentation in the trauma of career transition into coaching. What he said was based on his major study into concepts of professional identity.
What I found truly interesting was how David presented the process we go through in breaking from the past routines of one identity, then passing through a phase of betwixt and between, which involves experimentation and reflection (liminality), before incorporating a new identity. In the delegates’ case, the new identity was that of coach.
David presented a clear model of how the change process occurs, both practically and existentially. Many coaches have multiple identities (e.g. facilitator, trainer, change agent, coach, mentor), and he discussed how in the process of developing their professional coach identity, coaches are in an ongoing process of evolution and development.
One of the major elements of this which resonated for me is that in supervision, coaches often bring their concern that their client/coachee appears stuck, or is not moving forward fast enough. Their concern is often informed by a time-bounded number of sessions which aim to support the client as they transition into a new role. Applying the notion of liminality and allowing for a period of betwixt and between can help the coach and the client tolerate the rate of progress of change.
I believe papers will soon be available via the EMCC bookshop, where previous conference materials can also be found.
Photo: David Gray (right) and Barry Curnow (left) present the opening keynote at the EMCC Research Conference