“A ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

~ William Shedd

My coaching is driven by a desire to help clients understand more about how we think, feel, and behave, and how we use that understanding to make better choices and further our development, contributing to our sense of identity – in professional and personal domains. My methods draw on evidence-based practices, primarily structured around cognitive-behavioural, solution-focused, and positive-psychology frameworks.

Coaching programme design and delivery for individuals, groups, and institutional cohorts. For example:

  • Career and professional development
  • Developing your authentic researcher identity
  • Executive coaching for research leaders
  • Support for staff in restructured working groups
  • 360° feedback

The premise of coaching

You might not be able to change the world, but if you change how you operate in your world, your world will change around you. You might not be able to change other people, but if you change the way you connect with them, they may respond differently, and you can transform your relationships. You can do it on your own. But you might do it faster, with less stress, and with more impact if you have the right support.

That’s where I come in.

Coaching is a conversation, or series of conversations that support you in exploring, defining and progressing your development goals. I provide the space and frameworks for you to examine the topics you bring to the sessions; to challenge and encourage you to set objectives and take action towards them. Coaching conversations occur in a confidential, safe space.

Because coaching is non-directive,  I  actively support you to discover your own solutions, and set your own goals. I do this by listening, clarifying, reflecting back, asking questions and challenging you to experiment, all in service of supporting your progress towards your goals.

The responsibility for making decisions and taking actions (and equally valid, in choosing not to take action) lies with you. I provide you with the tools, support and structure to do this in the way that works best for you. By the end of your coaching programme with me, you will have learned how to use and adapt those tools, and take the lead in your own self-coaching in the future.

I am your thinking-partner

  • Heashot of SarahI  believe in you, even especially when you don’t believe in yourself.
  • I am impartial, yet I’m always on your team. I have no vested interest in what you choose to do or how, but I celebrate alongside you when you succeed.
  • I remind you to explore the terrain off the beaten track, rather than charge ahead on the path well-trodden by others.
  • I spot the stories you tell yourself that might be limiting your progress, and help you re-write them into beliefs that power your development.
  • I listen to you deeply and with full presence. I offer you alternative perspectives on your situation, challenges, and options.
  • I won’t lie to you, directly or by omission. This means I may sometimes say things you don’t want to hear.
  • I point out out patterns in your thinking and behaviour that might be holding you back.
  • Nothing great happens inside comfort zones, and challenge without support is stressful. So I will challenge you, and support you in challenging yourself.
  • I enable you to realise that your thoughts, behaviours and feelings are selective, and empower you to make different choices when you want to.
  • I remind you that your courage bucket is full, when you are searching for droplets at the bottom of your confidence bucket.
  • I am your companion on your development journey: we are shoulder-to-shoulder.

And you?

  • You want to create your own opportunities, rather than wait for them to show up.
  • You are ready to be candid about your strengths, perspectives, and challenges.
  • You are open to discovering new directions
  • You are prepared to challenge your habitual thinking patterns.
  • You might be at a crossroads in your professional life, and are unsure how to make your decision.
  • You suspect  you may have more personal resources than you thought, and are prepared to experiment with tapping into them.
  • Your circumstances might be changing around you, and you want to take more control over what happens next.
  • You may be harbouring a secret dream or ambition, and you’ve run out of excuses for keeping it hostage on your someday/maybe list.
  • You are committed to taking ownership of your development.

If you’re ready to engage in a coaching partnership, connect with me and let’s explore whether we might be a good fit.

What is not covered?

Coaching is not a substitute for counselling, therapy, mental health care, nor for advice that may be construed as medical, clinical, or legal.
In the event of a topic of discussion being beyond the boundaries of either the coach’s expertise or the coaching relationship framework, your coach will suggest a referral, and/or support you in seeking a more appropriate avenue of professional support.

Ethical considerations

I adhere to the following codes of ethics:

Led to significant research outputs despite the challenges of long-term sleep deprivation and the pandemic

These coaching sessions have been the highlight of the [programme so far]. My approach to work, self-confidence, and work-life balance has improved immeasurably as a result of Sarah’s guidance. This had led to significant research outputs despite the challenges of long-term sleep deprivation and the pandemic. I couldn’t have done this without Sarah’s guidance and would encourage the university to consider offering Sarah’s services to more research-active staff members.

Coachee on Strategic Fellowship programme

Being able to realise, pause and assess

I have become a lot more self-aware and now recognise when my inner critic is taking over- just being able to realise, pause and assess whether I can control the critic and get in a more positive frame of mind for completing a task has been very useful!

Coachee on Strategic Fellowship programme

Encouraged me to think about things from angles I hadn’t considered previously

The questions were helpful for getting to the foundation of my issues and encouraged me to think about things from angles I hadn’t considered previously. I appreciated Sarah’s ability to listen carefully, to comprehend my somewhat extensive rambling and pick out the important points.

University of Portsmouth

Meant the world to me to feel so heard and seen

Sarah has been brilliant. She’s encouraged us, and challenged our negative thought patterns to help us engage in a way to build on what is working, and enhance these aspects and identify areas we want to work on in future like self-belief and making time to recognise our successes. One of the workshops brought to light some of the things I am struggling with, and in a conversation with Sarah, she helped me with insight into the heart of this challenge for me by asking gentle questions. She was really compassionate and understanding of my experience and it meant the world to me to feel so heard and seen.

Staff member
University of Portsmouth

Motivated and empowered

It was great to have the opportunity to talk through issues, and I found it a really positive experience in terms of moving forward. As well as real insight into some of my ‘sticking points’, you gave me lots of practical ideas about how to be more productive. I really felt that we got to the bottom of unpicking some of the concerns that have been playing on my mind quite a bit, so I left the session feeling motivated and empowered.

University of Portsmouth

A turning point in my professional life

Thank you so much Sarah for being a fantastic coach, I have really enjoyed the last year of sessions and I always get a lot out of speaking to you. I really enjoy your combination of calm listening and ‘tough love’ and humour, it is perfect! You are making an enormous difference to my life and it is wonderful to get this time out to reflect and work on strategies to improve my mental wellbeing. This is certainly the most useful thing to come out of [the programme so far] and I really see this as a turning point in my professional life – I am starting to be able to take control of my mental state so that I can focus my energy building a positive work environment for myself. I do not need to be driven by being hard on myself, I can be driven by kindness and positivity!

Coachee on Strategic Fellowship programme

Enabled me to learn to trust my natural instincts

The coaching has enabled me to learn to trust my natural instincts and work positively with my tendency to over analyse my actions. I am far kinder to myself and am getting better at putting less pressure on myself and keeping expectations in check. In situations where I had no control, I would still put the emphasis on myself, now I realise that I still have power over my actions even if I don’t over the outcomes.

Coachee on Strategic Fellowship programme

Offers thoughtful questions at just the right moment

Sarah’s approach to coaching is fantastic. I am always impressed by how she manages the format of the sessions. She lets me speak (and often vent!) and offers thoughtful questions at just the right moment that provide me with a different perspective. These result in new perspectives that have an impact on the way I think.

Coachee on Strategic Fellowship programme