Psychosynthesis CoachingPaul Elliott on the genesis of Psychosynthesis Coaching Ltd
Paul left his employer Rolls Royce in 2002 after many years in management positions. He trained at the Institute of Psychosynthesis (IoP) in London from 2003-2007 and founded Psychosynthesis Coaching Limited in December 2014 with Aubyn Howard and IoP. The flagship training programme – Certificate in Psychosynthesis Leadership Coaching – was launched in 2015 and has been validated at Post Graduate Certificate level by University of Middlesex.
I have always been a bit wary when people talk about taking psychosynthesis out into the world. It sounds a little evangelical to me and, indeed, Wikipedia refers to a tendency for early authoritarian advocates to refer to it as ‘the truth’. Yet, having been through a four-year course of experiential training at the London Institute of Psychosynthesis from 2003 to 2007, m puzzled why this transformational journey towards self-realisation in not more widely known.
Psychosynthesis: A Psychology Whose Time Has Come
This article is about the emergence of Psychosynthesis Coaching Limited, a business formed in 2014 to meet the need that Aubyn Howard and I recognised for a short course teaching basic coaching skills within a psychosynthetic context. As we developed our ideas it became clear that what we were planning was part of a wider context: that of psychosynthesis emerging as a psychology whose time has come.
We were not just thinking that far more people should be trained in psychosynthesis (although that would be great!); rather, that the focus of psychosynthesis should shift to include working with high functioning neurotics as well as being a therapeutic intervention to help people struggling with their mental health. By developing a short course, training leadership coaching skills from a psychosynthetic perspective, we would enable many more leaders to experience being coached way beyond the performance coaching model which is widely taught. The outcomes of that coaching would benefit leaders, their organisations and society as a whole.
We believe that for too long psychosynthesis in application has been seen as primarily a therapeutic intervention and this has resulted in psychosynthesis coaching being very much the poor relation. Indeed, even now the Psychosynthesis Trust does not offer coach training.
Aubyn and I sat at the same dinner table at the Institute of Psychosynthesis 40th anniversary celebration in September 2013. We knew each other a little even though our time training at the Institute had only overlapped by a year. Roger Evans, the co-founder of the Institute, had brought Aubyn into his consulting business CLC and Roger, at the end of my training, had said that he would like me to get involved too. So, Aubyn and I got to know each other through a series of CLC group meetings looking at business strategy and possible opportunities. The Financial Crisis of 2008 and the ensuing recession put that on hold and I was offered consulting business elsewhere and found I was able to offer leadership coaching arising from the consulting work. I continued working with the Institute in a small way, however, and ran a one-day conversion coaching introduction course for people who wanted to join the relatively newly established Leadership and Organisational Coaching MA and Life Coaching programme.
As Aubyn and I talked that night, we found that we had a common realisation that we could offer a resource to the Institute for the provision of much more coaching skills training. We talked to Roger and he enthusiastically suggested we made a proposal. We started to work and what emerged was something rather different! The idea of the PG Certificate in Psychosynthesis Leadership Coaching was born.
With Roger’s support we designed the 15-day programme and it was launched to the alumni of The Institute in early 2015. The first programme started in September of that year and, by its conclusion in January 2016, Roger had enabled the course to be validated as a PG Certificate with Middlesex University.
Now running our ninth programme five years later and having also run two programmes in Verona with the Istituto Internazionale Psicosintesi Educativa (IIPE), worked with a large London secondary school and helped design a training programme for an international humanitarian charity, we can reflect on how an idea over dinner became actualised.
However, this is not something that should be seen in isolation. I think it is just one example of the emergence of a psychology whose time has come. Our Italian colleagues are taking on the training of coaches in Verona and their other training centres in Northern Italy, Didi Firman at the Synthesis Center USA is running psychosynthesis life coaching programmes, GSK has instigated internal coaching in its business across the world and at the core of its development and success has been the training and supervision by Anne Welsh who has held an implicit context of Self and emergence in the work. And while the Psychosynthesis Trust has not trained coaches, many coaches have emerged from there who have trained in coaching elsewhere and developed their own psychosynthesis coaching practice.
Building a Community
Part of our vision has been to build community in the psychosynthesis coaching world and the two Symposiums we ran in 2018 and 2020 have seen a coming together which is a joy to witness. Outside of the psychosynthesis world there is also something interesting happening. The British Psychological Society now has a Transpersonal Psychology section as I discovered from an article on the field of spiritual experience published in ‘The Friend’, the weekly magazine of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in September 2020. The article says that the work provides a counterbalance to the views of those scientists who are relentlessly analytical and reductionist. For me, this development is a further indication that the reality of transpersonal experience is starting to move out of the shadows.
Petra Guggisberg Nocelli, author of the seminal ‘The Way of Psychosynthesis’ gave the key note speech at the February 2020 International Psychosynthesis Symposium and her title was ‘Psychosynthesis: A Psychology Whose Time Has Come’. (And I have used her title for the title of this article). Shortly after our symposium, Covid-19 established its grip on Europe and beyond. This world-wide pandemic has meant all experiential training has had to re-imagined. We have made the shift from ‘We can’t run this programme online’ to ‘How are we going to run this programme online?’ The result is that it has opened up a wider reach of our programme to those who would not have been able to access it because of their geographical location. Out of crisis can come opportunity and as we start to see the probability of the end of the coronavirus pandemic, we can continue to harvest the additional opportunity that working online can bring, both in running international programmes but, more importantly, for the future, enabling community and a shared sense of purpose. Indeed, as we welcome the emergence of ‘Psychosynthesis Today’ we can reflect that it has only come into being because of the crisis.
Can we say therefore that psychosynthesis psychology’s time has come? My answer is not yet, even though the signs are so positive. I am reminded of what I believe is at the heart of psychosynthesis: that taking action from a place of free Will inevitably enables the emergence of something else -almost certainly something that was totally unexpected and which makes sense only in hindsight. For this psychology’s time truly to arrive, many more individuals, groups and organisation need to take their own steps into the unknown and trust that there will be a positive response.
Director and Co-Founder of Psychosynthesis Coaching Limited
 The Friend 04 September 2020, page 12