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IATEFL 2023 Conference - Ben's Thoughts on Lina Gordyshevskaya's Talk on Coaching

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Lina's talk was entitled "The Hidden Trauma: Empowering Learners through Coaching Conversations".

I immediately took to Lina's talk when she began; she clearly defined and exemplified coaching as something non-directive yet purposeful that simultaneously can exist and be used alongside an input-based teaching approach. She did not, much to my relief, treat coaching and one-to-one teaching as synonyms (as so many do). In my view, Lina's approach to true coaching is spot-on and I wish understanding like hers could be shared more widely as, with every passing conference, misunderstandings and misnomers about coaching continue to spread.


Lina then turned to how she uses coaching to create the right conditions for learning and to investigate and address issues and barriers that prevent effective and enjoyable language learning.


She detailed a range of case studies as successes for her coachees and how she achieved this through the combination of teaching and coaching:

- Teaching to develop knowledge and skills in English

- Coaching to analyse and remove obstacles to learning often caused by past experiences such as negative influences, lack of support, poor resources, criticism and more


Lina spoke about challenges too. Lina showed, in my view, great ethical values as a coach when she detailed the exiting of an unsuccessful coaching relationship (as coaches, we have all been there). Truly, this is best practice and, unquestionably, the right thing to do for both coach and coachee.


Inevitably, when words like "trauma" are used in coaching contexts or coaching-focused conference talks, the discussion will turn to therapy, counselling and so on. I am often dismayed that coaches feel they can venture in this area. During Lina's question and answer session at the end of her talk, I pushed her on this and I must say I was delighted with her response.


Her responses were, to me, perfect. She answered mine on the ethical, methodological and legal boundaries between coaching on the one hand and counselling and therapy on the other. She also stressed how she clarifies this with coachees, she explains, openly, that she is a teacher and coach and not a counsellor. I interrupted her at this point to push her on the role of coaching contracts / conditions of coaching and, again, she responded that she protects both herself and her coachee with such an agreement. She continued to explain that a coach can support some into and through therapy even if the coach is not the one with the professional standing or capability to provide it.


This was a superb talk with a committed and unflappable coach who knows her craft and impresses with her professionalism.



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