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Pauline Willis

This last edition of The Coaching Psychologist for 2006 will have landed on your doorstep just days before we host the First International Coaching Psychology Conference in London. Our AGM will also be held on the first day of the conference on the 18 December.

A brief report outlining the results of the members survey which focused on accreditation issues is presented later in this issue of TCP. Within this questionnaire we asked you whether you want us to move towards Division Status, how important this is to you and why. The results of the survey clearly show that members are interested in accreditation.

Discussions will be held on Subject Benchmarks, Supervision Guidelines and future accreditation options for Coaching Psychology as a part of the SGCP Professional Practice and Research subcommittee sessions at the conference. At the AGM, we are also hoping to review the results of a stakeholder analysis so we can consider what actions to take in moving forwards into 2007. This series of parallel sessions will lead up to the AGM and support our thinking around the issue of Coaching Psychology accreditation within the Society.

As one of the newest subsystems within the Society the SGCP has perhaps been a precocious and challenging addition to the professional family of psychology. We have grown faster than even we had dared to hope and certainly faster than others within the Society had anticipated.

This is a time where changes and challenges are facing the broader profession as a whole and a major review of subsystem autonomy is leading towards various ‘radical’ internal changes within the Society to ensure the Society is ‘fit for the future’. On behalf of the SGCP Committee, I can assure you that we are working hard to represent your needs whatever these may be as either ‘coaching psychologists’ or ‘psychologists who coach’ and in ways that support the development of the profession as whole. This is no easy task, however, we are making excellent progress.

The value of psychological research and practice is increasingly being discovered and used in more arenas within the community at large so if one lesson has been reinforced by the rapid growth of the SGCP, it is the need for the Society and indeed the ‘profession of psychology’ to be more flexible and adaptive than perhaps has been the case historically.

One of the key challenges facing the profession at this stage in our development is that key elements of the psychological knowledge base are increasingly becoming ‘public domain’. Through the successful communication of psychological ideas through high school and university-based programmes an increasing number of people are taking these ideas into workplaces and the community. Representation of psychology within the popular media by ‘media psychologists’ as well as popular formats such as soap opera, drama and even comedy has meant that many ideas drawn from psychological research have now become so deeply embedded in modern western culture that people are starting to forget where they originated.

It is wonderful on many levels to see this transfer of knowledge, however, I do feel that the profession of psychology suffers through being the unacknowledged and underappreciated originator of much that is good in modern culture. Perhaps this is a small price to pay for such a valuable and wide reaching impact, however, unless psychologists are more ‘proactive’ in getting the new research and ideas into society, then for coaches and other consumers of psychology there will remain to be a serious ‘time lag’ between the generation of relevant research and practice and application within the broader coaching community.

With increasing pressure on psychology as a profession to keep society ‘fed’ with new ideas and developments based on evidencebased research there is a corresponding increase in our responsibility to ensure that the ideas are communicated effectively and that the practical application of these ideas is managed and supported.

The burgeoning coaching community is one the biggest consumers of both the historical and developing psychological knowledge base outside of the profession of psychology itself. Communicating these ideas both within the profession and from the profession outwards to the external coaching community is an essential activity for us and this is supported by our two key publications. These are the International Coaching Psychology Review which is ‘academic’ and psychologically focussed along with The Coaching Psychologist which is designed to cater for needs of our broader membership base. This dissemination of knowledge does also need to be backed up with practical support from the psychological professional community and this is where our role as coach supervisors is key to ensuring that psychological ideas are ‘used’ and not ‘abused’. Competence in, and supervision of coaching psychology practice are both themes that are high on the agenda at the conference and there are opportunities for you to both receive information as well as share your own knowledge and expertise in this area.

I am also very pleased to report that through the Society’s involvement in initiatives such as the coaching bodies roundtable and the upcoming International Coaching Standards Symposium that the broader professional coaching and mentoring community is developing a better understanding of our profession. This engagement with the broader community is also leading towards a clearer understanding of how the profession of psychology relates to the emergent profession of coaching and how we can work together. Negative stereotypes and misinformation about psychologists still abound within the broader coaching community and it is through these collaborative relationships that they are gradually being overcome.

And a final note, Siobhain O’Riordan is the incoming Chair for 2007 and I hope that Siobhain will be as well supported by the both the membership and the SGCP Committee as I have been over the past year.

Pauline Willis


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