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The introductory chapter to this fascinating, timely and comprehensive text includes a full
description of its structure and contents, so I will not repeat that here. Instead, I will offer a more
personal reaction to the volume and invite you, as reader, to follow the same route.
I think that everyone who reads this book will have a different take on it. Just consider what
the three most engaging chapters are for you out of the 29 presented here, and this gives you
thousands of possibilities, even before starting to take into account the different things that even
two people who chose the same three chapters might take from them. So I am not prioritizing
my choice of three chapters as being the best or the most important in the book, or recommending them to you above others. They just happened to chime with my preoccupations when I was
writing this Foreword.
I was surprised and delighted by John Rowan's take on transpersonal coaching. In contrast to
the rest of a field - the transpersonal - filled with hippies (the meadows before Longshaw
Lodge in England's Peak District in autumn swarming with people in red bandanas hunting for
magic mushrooms is a metaphor that comes to mind) this chapter is full of sound sense and a
spirited defence of what is important. From the definition of the two types of transpersonal
through to the splendid distinction between 'letting go' and 'letting come', John Rowan is
clear, undogmatic and pragmatic about how we ordinary coaches can deal with these heady but
crucially important issues.
David Drake's chapter on narrative coaching addresses one of the areas that has been preoccupying me in the past year. His chapter explores how we position ourselves in our inner
constructions and our outer interactions, and describes the back story of the narrative approach,
with its roots in literary theory, humanism and psychology. He offers a strong and helpful
challenge to the lingering behaviourism that hangs round some accounts of coaching like the
miasma from a swamp. Drake is a suitable candidate to be the hero that comes to defeat the
monster in the swamp - a Beowulf to challenge the Grendel of SMART goals and the Grendel's
mother of performativity.
The chapter on cognitive development coaching by Tatiana Bachkirova is preoccupied with
meaning-making, and offers the most explicit adult development approach in this volume. It is
central to the book because the perspective of the authors here is au font, grounded in adult
learning. After a helpful and comprehensive review of the theoretical contributions, Bachkirova
develops the work of Robert Kegan and relates it to the process of coaching whereby what
the client takes as themselves (Subject) can, with the coach's help, become Object, and thus
amenable to interrogation or development. These orders of mind are outlined and the theory