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  • Andrew Scott



A number of people have expressed an interest in the psychology underlying the ManyStory Approach. I am not a psychologist, but do think that a working understanding of psychology is important for coaches and other change agents, and have read reasonably widely around the topic, as well as working with, and discussing ideas with, a number of friends who are psychologists.

The first thing to say is that research (as quoted by the BACP on their website, and by De Haan in Relational Coaching) suggests that the approach we use as change agents or coaches is far less important to the success of the intervention than the quality of relationship that we establish with the people we are seeking to help to change.

However, the research also suggests that we are more likely to be effective if we commit to an approach and are consistent in our use of it (with a particular individual or group - we may choose to use a different approach with different people, of course).

So I offer the ManyStory Approach as one amongst many that may be valuable. One of its strengths is that many elements of the approach are likely to help establish good working relationships. I am thinking here of the emphasis on listening to and understanding people's stories, on the one hand, and having a clear route map of a process that offers real hope for positive change, on the other.


Some of the other important issues in helping people to change, as I understand them, are:

  • engaging people’s imagination and emotions in the change process, as well as their intellect;

  • encouraging and supporting autonomy and building confidence

  • developing specific and manageable steps towards desired change

  • mental and emotional rehearsal

  • organising the world around the individual to support desired change

  • engaging a network of people who are supportive of the change

  • reflective practice that is particularly focused on noticing and supporting positive change

In reading a number of books on the Psychology of Coaching for a recent Diploma, I was struck by how well the ManyStory Approach meets these needs; or to put it another way, I re-learned how the approach works in practice, by re-visiting some of the underlying theory.

Incidentally, in my book I mention Milgram and ZImbardo in passing. These support the point above about the importance of the world around the individual. Milgram famously persuaded people to inflict (or more accurately, to believe they were inflicting) ever more serious electric shocks on a subject, in obedience to an authority figure. Zimbardo was responsible for the equally famous Stanford prison experiment, that demonstrated how people responded when placed in the role and circumstances of either 'prisoner' or 'guard.'

As always, I am interested in others’ experiences, stories and perceptions, so do please comment on this post.

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