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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


Dr Gill Stevens: Time to take a deeper look into coaching? 

With ICE’s popular undergraduate and short courses in Coaching already well-established, a new Master of Studies is now open to applications. Academic Director Dr Gill Stevens tells us about her journey into coaching and what to expect from the new postgraduate offering. 

“Coaching is about facilitating, helping a person who is trying to resolve something. It’s informed by psychology, philosophy and leadership, among other things, and it’s not about giving advice, telling people what to do or judging. It’s helping individuals tap into their own inner wisdom. 

In life coaching, a person might be at a decision point in their personal or working life. Within an organisation, people have coaching, among other things, to help in areas like career development or to focus on what matters in a new job. 

A love of developing people 

In my working life, I started by teaching computer training but realised my passion was more about developing people. I turned towards leadership development, where coaching was in its early stages, and learned to facilitate and enable leaders to self-manage their development instead of telling them what to do. As I got more interested in this idea, I got more into coaching, specifically. 

Eventually, I set up my own coaching consultancy working with leaders and would often teach them basic coaching skills. 

When I moved to Manila, I taught Human Behaviour in Organisations at a university, and coaching was part of that. Coaching people from other cultures was really valuable to my own development. For example, there, I was as an experienced, mature, European woman coaching young, Filipino males and wondering why they never challenged anything! We had to break down some barriers first. 

While I was in the Philippines, I became fascinated by the concept of design thinking. It has a lot in common with coaching. It’s a problem-solving methodology and designers need to have empathy with those experiencing problems so that they can create solutions that meet users’ needs. After talking to different coaches and experts, I developed a model for working with teams that draws on design-thinking principles and coaching practice.  

Coming back to Cambridge, I joined ICE as a tutor for the undergraduate Certificate and Diploma in Coaching courses, then became Course Director for the Diploma and most recently became Academic Director of the Coaching portfolio.” 

A new chance to extend your coaching expertise 

This year, under Gill’s directorship, ICE is set to run its inaugural MSt in Coaching. Developed in response to demand from experienced coaches seeking advanced training, the interdisciplinary MSt differentiates itself from other Master’s programmes by covering the full range of coaching contexts, promoting highly developed critical-thinking skills and zooming in on evidence-based psychological models. 

“The Certificate and Diploma are very successful, and we realised that many students want to continue their development. So we’ve just launched our first two-year, part-time Master’s in Coaching, due to start in September 2023, and applications are now open. It’s aimed at practitioners who have been coaching for a minimum of three years and who want to widen their knowledge and interest in the field. We’re looking forward to welcoming the first cohort. 

Rather than restricting our focus to one specific area of coaching, we’re looking more deeply into the many and varied psychological approaches, assessing the evidence base for them and seeing how philosophy can help coaches make sense of them. We’ll also study contemporary topics such as neuroscience to understand how the brain functions and coaching from a systemic perspective. 

The courses we offer at ICE help coaches of all types go deeper into the psychological aspects of their subject. The profession is unregulated, so if a coach can show they have the credentials – in the form of training, qualifications or accreditation –it provides credibility to practice as a coach.  

Other ways to keep learning 

A coach’s learning and development doesn’t necessarily need to be a Master’s. We’re also developing short, one- and two-day courses for continuous professional development. Some coaches may not want to follow a Master’s pathway but want to do something that enhances their skills and knowledge. Keep an eye on the website for details of these. But however much time they want to invest, there are plenty of options for coaches to develop their practice at ICE.” 

To find out more about the Coaching Master’s at ICE, visit:  

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