Advanced Practitioner Diploma / “There was so much emphasis on practice”

17th December by Lee Robertson

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Genevieve Loaker is relationship consultant and executive coach with a focus on personal and leadership development. Genevieve very kindly gave us her perspective of coach training on the AoEC’s Advanced Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching and a peek into her work as an ICF-accredited coach.

Can you tell us about the type of clients you typically work with?

When I first established my coaching practice I began as a relationship coach, working with individuals facing separation and divorce. This came out of more than ten years of experience supporting those facing relationship breakdown – something I have also experienced personally - and having developed training and resources in this area.

Over time, as my practice grew, more and more clients were seeking coaching for work-related challenges and opportunities. As an executive coach I now work predominantly with leaders and middle managers who are seeking to strengthen and expand their leadership capacity and skillset.

I continue to support clients facing relationship breakdown through my organisation Mosaic Lives. I provide coaching and group-based workshops, as well as training for HR personnel and line managers around the impact of separation and divorce on employee wellbeing and mental health.

How do your two businesses complement one another?

I see Mosaic Lives as an extension of my executive coaching work since no executive - regardless of their profession, position or role - is immune from the difficulties and challenges that can impact us both personally and professionally.

Furthermore, one of the primary ways I support clients experiencing relationship breakdown is through strengthening their performance at work. A significant life event such as separation and divorce, whilst incredibly difficult and often unwelcome, is also an opportunity to strengthen our personal leadership. Such events are also an opportunity for organisations to communicate to their employees that they matter.

Separation and divorce are similar to bereavement because they are ultimately about loss - indeed loss on a massive scale. They involve a process of grieving before a person is able to come to terms with their situation and move forward. Grief impacts both our feelings and our functioning. Individuals may experience a rollercoaster of emotions, which in the early stages can be very raw and difficult to manage, particularly as these emotions can sometimes emerge at the most inconvenient of times. In addition, individuals may notice a change in their mental and physical capacity. Normal, everyday tasks can become much more difficult. Concentration levels, memory, productivity and motivation can all be impacted. I help organisations reduce absenteeism and presenteeism and increase employee wellbeing and productivity by providing coaching and group-based workshops for employees facing separation and divorce. I also offer training for HR personnel and line managers concerning the impact of separation and divorce on employee wellbeing and mental health, and how best to come alongside their employees during this time.

In my experience, those in leadership positions can sometimes find it especially difficult to ask for help because they fear it will be perceived as weakness. Through my work with Mosaic Lives, I seek to remove the stigma around asking for help, even as a leader, while also raising awareness of the importance of employee wellbeing and mental health.

What are some of the issues and opportunities you coach clients around and what kind of impact is the coaching having?

I work with leaders and middle managers who are seeking to strengthen and expand their leadership capacity and skillset. This includes, for example, increasing emotional and relational intelligence, leaning into difficult conversations and resolving conflict, navigating transitions and building mental fitness. These challenges and opportunities provide key insights into a client’s unique gifts and talents as well as patterns and behaviours which limit their leadership potential. Armed with a greater awareness and understanding, leaders are better able to lean into the change and growth required for their next level of leadership. So many clients affirm that this growth has a much broader impact than just their work: they have also been able to apply the learning in other areas of life and leadership.

You worked originally as a modern languages teacher before moving into marketing roles and now run your own consultancy. Who or what introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for coach training with the AoEC?

When I enrolled on the Advanced Practitioner Diploma, I had six years’ experience of working as a coach. I was keen to build on my coaching training and experience, and further expand my skills as a coach. A good friend had done the Advanced Diploma and I had loved catching up with her after every module and hearing about her experiences. These conversations sparked my initial interest. What drew me to the Advanced Diploma was the focus on the psychological theories underpinning coaching and the emphasis on coaching practice.

What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the Advanced Practitioner Diploma (APD)?

For me the greatest challenge was having to do the APD online because of COVID restrictions. The first time I got to meet the faculty and my cohort in person was at the final assessment. It felt very surreal to coach and be coached face-to-face after having done all the training online. Nevertheless, looking back it certainly increased my confidence and expanded the breadth and creativity of my coaching skills in working remotely with clients.

One of my favourite aspects of the APD was the fact there was so much emphasis on practice. Every module there were multiple opportunities to coach and be coached, to receive and give feedback as well as participate in peer supervision. This approach helped me to embed the learning. I also learnt a great deal from observing others coach – both the faculty and my peers – because every coach brings such a unique dimension to coaching.

What is your advice to others considering coach training?

Firstly, make sure the training is recognised by either the EMCC or ICF. This will make things more straightforward when you want to apply for accreditation. It’s also a good idea to check the various pathways for accreditation with each training programme, as some include mentor coaching whereas others may require additional mentor coaching sessions that will inevitably impact the total cost. 

Secondly, choose a programme that provides multiple opportunities for practice and feedback. There is only so much we can learn from studying.

Thirdly, coach training is as much about personal development as it is about expanding your knowledge and skillset as a coach. Build in time to reflect on your own learning journey in terms of what is emerging for you and how you can apply this to other areas of your life.

Looking back at doing your training with the Advanced Practitioner Diploma, what has been the lasting impact on you as a person and you as a coach?

One of the lasting impacts of the APD has been to enhance the quality of my coaching presence. I am now more present to my clients, more present to myself and more present to the relationship between us. This deeper level of listening has not only impacted my coaching but has heightened my awareness of the quality of presence I bring to every dimension of my life, both personally and professionally.

Can you tell us more about your personal coaching model and how this has evolved since doing the Advanced Practitioner Diploma?

My approach has always been and continues to be person-centred. Alongside this I draw on a number of psychological theories and tools depending on the needs of the client, for example Transactional Analysis and NVC (Non-violent communication). Through the APD I have broadened my understanding and practice of the range of psychological theories and tools available. I was particularly drawn to the Gestalt and Psychodynamic approaches and have now also incorporated these into my model.

The Advanced Diploma is accredited with both the EMCC and ICF. How important has accreditation with one of the industry’s professional bodies been to you personally?

I am accredited with the ICF (ACC). For me this is very important because it communicates an ongoing commitment to professional standards and excellence, which builds credibility and trust with clients.

Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a coaching situation that had an impact on you?

I once had the privilege of coaching a client seeking to move forward following a life-changing accident. I was so inspired by their courage and steely determination to learn and grow through the process, emerging stronger, more resilient and with a renewed sense of hope and expectation for the future.

What do you find most rewarding about your work as a coach?

I value being able to offer clients a confidential, neutral, psychologically safe space to share their challenges and opportunities without fear or filter.

One of my greatest joys as a coach is seeing clients go above and beyond what they thought was possible when we started working together.

Our deepest gratitude to Genevieve for sharing her personal journey and experience of coach training at the AoEC.