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Vulnerability and The Dynamics of Professional Coaching

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Vulnerability – do we even dare touch this very delicate topic. The vulnerability of our coaching clients: how hard do we push and are we at all responsible for the stress and potential emotional responses of our clients when we address difficult issues? Are we entering into the domain of psychotherapy when our clients become vulnerable? And what about our own vulnerability as coaches – as human beings? How much of this do we share with our clients? And when do we ask for support ourselves when faced with a difficult client or with a situation that provokes our own emotions (what psychodynamically-oriented therapists call “counter-transference”)?

We weren’t sure when planning for this issue of Future of Coaching if this is a topic to be broached in a publication about coaching practices. Then we looked at existing essays in the Library of Professional Coaching and found many that addressed the issue of vulnerability (one of which we republish in this issue of Future of Coaching). So, we decided to move forward with this theme and have provided you, our reader, with some thought-provoking essays for your own reflection regarding vulnerability in yourself and your clients.

We begin with a very penetrating essay written by Lindsay Miller. Called “Vulnerability is My Superpower”, this essay addresses the vulnerability that resides within each of us and ways in which we gain support from other people when confronting our own vulnerability.

Vulnerability is my Superpower

We turn next to an essay written by one of us {WB} about the protective armor that we wear (and other people place on us) to avoid or deny the vulnerability. This essay concerns professional roles, the “celebrity” and the imposter–all of which are alive and well in our contemporary world.

Piercing the Armor: Professional Coaching and Vulnerability

The third essay is written by one of our colleagues living in Singapore, Simon Neo Teck Koon, who conducted research and wrote his dissertation about vulnerability among men. He identifies the challenge of being authentic in a society that teaches men to avoid vulnerable disclosures.

The Vulnerability of Men: Swimming Upstream Toward Intimacy

Our fourth document is borrowed from another source – TED. While we usually don’t duplicate material to be found elsewhere, we couldn’t resist the suggestion made by Suzi Pomerantz (co-curator of the Library of Professional Coaching) to feature Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability. Here is a link to this talk. We think it is quite relevant for those of us in the coaching profession:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=brene+brown+ted+talk&view=detail&mid=983957D0935C4DB1E346983957D0935C4DB1E346&FORM=VIRE

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