Reflecting on Reflection ~ The journey to coaching maturity

We recently published an article entitled “Reflecting on Reflection ~ The journey to coaching maturity” written by Kerry Woodcock, PhD, CPCC, ORSCC, PCC, ACTC, EMCC-SP;    Larissa Thurlow PCC, ACTC, ITCA, EMCC-SP, ESIA, CEC, ORCC; & Sherry Matheson CPCC, ORSCC, PCC, ACTC.


Are some coaches more mature than others? And how have you matured along your coaching journey? We recognize and honour that as coaches, we are all at different levels of maturity. Reflecting in and on our practice, where do we consciously and unconsciously enable or inhibit our development and journey to coaching mastery?

The journey to maturity invites you to step into a review of your path so far, stand still long enough to notice where you are now, and look towards what lies ahead for you, both as a coach and as a human being. In other words, to develop your capability and capacity to be reflective, reflexive and pre-flective (Schön, 1984) through practice.


As you look back through the rear view mirror of your coaching journey, what has supported and challenged you the most to be pre-reflective, reflexive and reflective as a coach? What are the peak moments you have experienced?

For the authors of this article, becoming a team coach who co-coaches was one of the milestones that had the biggest impact on our overall reflective practice. The greater complexity of team coaching and the alignment process with our co-coaches requires a considerable commitment to pre-flective practice (re-flecting-prior-to-action) through prepping and briefing with our co-coach before a team coaching session and reflective practice (reflecting-on-action) through de-briefing with our co-coach after a team coaching session.

We supplemented these practices with receiving coach mentoring and supervision – recalling what we think happened, interpreting meaning, considering alternative courses of action and planning for application of learnings. Additionally, providing mentoring and training for coaches, supported our introspection and further reflection.

We generally find that the intensity of pre-flective and reflective practice isn’t as strong in individual coaching. Most coaches tend to lean more into these practices in relational dialogue with their clients in the immediacy of the beginning and end of each individual coaching session.

The ability to be reflexive (reflecting-in-action) developed over time, in relationship with individuals and teams, through the awareness and acknowledgement of parallel processes. Becoming coach supervisors (and later a supervisor trainers) amplified our reflexive practice through the awareness of transference and countertransference in the supervisor-supervisee relationship.

Outside of coaching, writing (fiction and non-fiction), painting, listening to narrative interviews, journaling, dialoguing with friends, and retreats serve the more conventional reflective practice, while dancing and breathwork serves a more reflexive practice, and walking and talking a less developed pre-flective practice.

On reflection, what has supported and challenged our reflective practice the most is as co-learner through relationship. What about you?


As you look into the mirror and see where you are now on your coaching journey, what do you notice supports you to enter a reflective space?

This inquiry arose from one of the students in a Team Coaching Supervision Training Program noticing in the moment that they were finding it challenging to enter into a reflective space. Some of the ways we have found to enter into a reflective space through either connecting into our internal world by being attentive to in-the-moment body sensations, or through breathwork, and/or connecting to our external world through catching what is reflected back to us from the world channel through visual and auditory channels.

In reflection, what supports us most in entering into reflective practice is through self-as-instrument and the mirror of the world reflecting back to us. What about you?


As you peer into the crystal ball, towards what lies ahead for you on your coaching journey, what glimpse do you get of new ways of viewing reflection? And how might new forms of meaning support and challenge you today?

Perhaps reflection is about careful thought. Or perhaps reflection is necessary to be the best version of yourself as a coach and in life.

➤“Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions.” (Porter, 2017)

➤ “Reflecting helps you to develop your skills and review your effectiveness, rather than just carry on doing things as you have always done them. It is about questioning, in a positive way, what you do and why you do it and then deciding whether there is a better, or more efficient, way of doing it in the future.” (The Open University)

➤ “To be reflexive involves thinking from within experiences, or as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it ‘turned or reflected back upon the mind itself.’” (Bolton, 2009)

➤“Reflection allows us to carve statues of insight and meaning from the rubble of coaching conversations.” (Sinclair, 2022)

Perhaps, for you, it is none or all of these, and more.


There are a myriad of ways to develop reflective practice, as demonstrated through our individual reflections through this article. Developmental moves (Sharma, 2021) that may support an increase in the capability and capacity to reflect may include consolidating where you are currently in your reflective practice, integrating what you may have overlooked, ignored or even marginalized from earlier stages of meaning making around reflection and reflective practice, and transitioning to later stages through new practices.

Professional coaching supervision is one way to support these developmental moves. With formats for supervision including one-on-one, group and co-coach supervision, there are ample opportunities for coaches to reflect as co-learners through relationship with professional supervisors, their peers and their co-coaches. Yet coaching supervision provides a unique and individualized learning support and opportunity to examine, celebrate and develop a coach’s understanding and awareness of who they are and how they work, regardless of their level of maturity or experience.

As more coaches realize the value of supervision for themselves, their clients and their practice, there is an increase in demand for professionally trained and accredited supervisors. Training to be a supervisor supported and challenged us to develop the capability to reflect through self as instrument. In this way, these authors suggest that training to become a supervisor has the potential to be a developmental move in itself.

Supported by supervision, the journey to coaching maturity – and dare we say, supervising maturity – is through the coach and supervisor looking back on themselves prior-to, in and on action through the supervision experience. How very meta!

Tell us what you think about this issue and this Feature article.

How does it apply to you and the women in your life?
Let’s continue the conversation by connecting with your colleagues on our Facebook page