Privacy Promise

RD1st Privacy Promise


We (Relational Dynamics 1st Ltd ) are committed to protecting your privacy.

Transparency: We do not ‘harvest’ data and only store personal data which has been freely given. This is usually via booking forms, contractual information or you have personally signed up to an RD1st mailing list. We are confident that the information we hold, in relation to individuals, is fit for purpose and collected for legitimate interest. We never share information nor sell/distribute mailing lists/data.

Security: We are committed to always follow industry best practices to ensure your data is stored safely and securely. We protect the confidentiality, accuracy and availability of the information we collect about you. If we communicate with training cohorts via email, we use BCC until the training cohort have given permission for otherwise. Data is stored in password protected computers. Paper data is kept in lockable filing cabinets

Third Parties:

We are confident that Mailchimp, as an email platform, adheres to GDPR regulations.  We use Mailchimp to communicate with our data base. Privacy Policy

We are confident that Eventbrite, as a booking platform, adheres to GDPR regulations. We use Eventbrite for booking some, not all, training events. Privacy Policy.

Coaching Culture at Work (CAW): CAW is our accrediting body for the accredited coaching training. CAW keep a name and email record of all accredited RD1st Coaches. We are confident CAW, as an accrediting body, adheres to GDPR regulations.  Privacy Policy

Control: We will always give you control over the email marketing you receive from us and you can opt out any time, should you no longer wish to receive communications from us. This can be achieved via the unsubscribe button on all of our emails or through contacting us directly.

*Coaching Services: Should you engage RD1st to provide coaching or supervision services, a separate contract is issued detailing the confidentiality clauses in relation to the work.  As per the conditions in the RD1st coaching contract, we may disclose your personal information to third parties where we are legally required to do so. You will be informed if this is the case. Your records are held, securely, for no more than five years and then destroyed. We hold records for five years in case a client wishes to return to coaching/supervision. Your records may be destroyed sooner on request.

Retention of your data: We only retain personal data for as long as we need it for our legitimate business interests and that you are happy for us to do so. We delete data at different times depending on the nature of the data;

i) Coaching/Supervision Records and Data: up to 5 years

ii) Booking Forms: 24months

iii)   Invoice Records: 7 years or as required by HMCR

iv) Mailing Lists: until you unsubscribe

Your Rights.

You have the right to ‘be forgotten’ (please contact Deb Barnard directly if this is the case).

You have the right to request information about the personal data we hold on you at any time.

You have the right to request changes, updates or removal of your data.

Data and Privacy Officer: Deb Barnard (please click name for email address)

This policy was last updated on 7th June 2019.

Navigating the coaching ‘Chemistry Call’

‘How do I manage a chemistry call?’ is a question which often comes up in supervision.

selective focus photography of black rotary phone
Photo by Pixabay on

A chemistry call is often the first point of verbal contact between potential coach and coachee.

The coachee may well be speaking to a number of coaches to check for ‘best fit’. ‘Best fit’ can be anything from; price and affordability, availability, professionalism (e.g. does the coach have a supervisor, insurance, sector organisation membership etc) to a ‘sixth sense’ that the potential relationship feels comfortable/easy/safe.

For the coach, it can sometimes feel like an ‘interview’, so it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to ‘impress’ in some way; we might over promise or try to demo our skills for example. Some coaches offer a free taster session: although we did hear of a coachee who managed to achieve a full coaching series by calling in a number of free sessions with different coaches!

So – this is what we have noticed over the years, helps establish, a best shot chemistry call;

a) Know how to describe the role and what coaching means to you. share your ‘style’ (if you have one!).

b) Have all logistics to hand; costs, availability, venue, contracts, options

c) If the potential client is happy to share, check out what they hope to gain from the coaching. This helps ensure form fit e.g. someone may really be wanting a mentor.

d) Listen actively, reflect back, invite further questions – try to avoid drifting into coaching.

e) Be yourself and confident in your offer. Try not to be attached to the outcome. Explain what you do rather than ‘sell’ what you do!

Developing a coaching culture


The Workhouse Museum – Ripon Museum Trust

This article first appeared in the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) Summer newsletter 2017. Reproduced here with permission of AIM.

Given the rapid pace of change experienced by the UK museum sector, having a workforce that is prepared to adapt and respond is critical. Recent research commissioned by AIM and other partners, Character Matters: attitudes, behaviours and skills in the UK Museum workforce, highlights two key challenges.

They are how to develop the ‘personal qualities’ and skills of the existing workforce, and how our organisations can become ‘more flexible, agile and entrepreneurial and supportive of their workforce?’

Greater use of coaching and offering leadership training to a wider range of staff are recommended by the report, and AIM member Ripon Museum Trust’s experience of this highlights how museums can build their resilience by adopting a coaching culture and ethos.

Ripon Museum Trust (RMT) is a small independent museum group with three sites that tell a story about law, order, poverty and social justice – the former courthouse, prison and police station and workhouse. Alongside the museum’s core staff team of three, more than 100 volunteers deliver the museum’s activities. In 2015 RMT was awarded a grant from Arts Council England’s (ACE) Museum Resilience Fund to develop its leadership skills and culture with the aim of making best use of all the human resources available to the museums.

A central aspect of the project involved a four-day coaching and leadership skills course developed by Relational Dynamics 1st for a group of staff, trustees and volunteers. The course offered a foundation in coaching skills and approaches (active listening, effective questions, the GROW* framework, setting and reviewing goals), and training in advanced communication skills including giving feedback, difficult conversations and building trust.

The group explored styles of leadership, and were encouraged to develop their self-awareness and understanding of others; what we refer to as ‘relational dynamics’. Participants also practiced coaching and being coached by one another, individually and via group coaching or ‘action learning’.

What is a coaching style of leadership?

A coaching style of leadership encourages and requires all of us to be involved and take responsibility for achieving success through developing high levels of trust and distributed decision-making, recognising and supporting everyone’s potential and focusing on improving performance at an individual, team and whole organisation level.

In a workplace with a coaching culture we:

share a sense of purpose

are clear how our roles contribute to the bigger picture

are willing to try new things and go the ‘extra mile

have autonomy in how we deliver our work, and,

take pride in doing our jobs to the best of our abilities.

External evaluation of the project revealed how coaching skills are already improving RMT’s resilience. Through developing a core set of organisational values and associated behaviours, RMT was able to clarify its vision and clarity of roles, and job satisfaction increased during the lifetime of the project. RMT now enjoys higher levels of trust between staff, volunteers and trustees which enables greater autonomy which in turn leads to a culture where people feel motivated to test new ideas and take the initiative.

The legacy of the project continues and staff and volunteers now have the skills and tools to continue their own development; for example the museum director has created an action learning set for other culture and heritage leaders in Yorkshire, and museum staff now deliver a half-day ‘coaching skills for leadership’ course in-house which forms part of the induction for new volunteers.

RMT’s coaching approach led to articulating and measuring the museums’ impact through research, and using study trips to increase awareness of how other museums are working with volunteers. The learning generated directly contributed to a successful £400,000 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to acquire a new building which formed part of the original Workhouse.

RMT is bringing its coaching approach to how it develops this new site, and is planning to recruit a ‘collaborative curator’ who will ensure the wider community is involved in developing a shared vision for the redevelopment of this new site by piloting new uses in partnership with the local community.

Further information: 

*GROW – Goal, Current Reality, Options, Will – a widely-used coaching framework developing by Sir John Whitmore and Carol Wilson.

Want to know more about the project? Arts Professional also published an article in 2016, including RMT’s work with Relational Dynamics 1st.


Spring 2017 newsletter


The first few months of 2017 have kept the RD1st team busy! We ran our first public course in Scotland at CCA Glasgow in March and the National Theatre in London also kindly hosted our popular one-day coaching course. In February and March Tate invited Emma and Claire to deliver two days’ training in coaching and Action Learning facilitation for over twenty members of the Plus Tate network. March also saw RD1st complete a year-long training programme for over 150 managers at Royal Opera House, working closely with RD1st alumni Greg Jauncey, HR and Training Manager at ROH.

In early April fifteen newly accredited RD1st coaches joined our ranks – welcome to RD24! And Deb has recently returned from Tripoli in Lebanon after delivering part one of the main course with RD1st International trainer Dina Abu Hamdan.

This week sees the start of our first course specifically for artists, in partnership with and resourced by A-N: the artists information company, following a successful pilot programme last year.

Since we expanded the RD1st team two years ago we’ve been keen to develop some new opportunities for alumni. A number of new short courses are listed below. Over early Summer we’ll be putting the finishing touches to a new advanced course for later in 2017/18 – watch this space!

In our future newsletters we hope to share with you stories about ways in which people are using Relational Dynamics coaching skills and approaches. Given our current focus on artists, we wanted to share an interview with Joshua Sofaer about the ways in which he uses coaching as part of his creative and professional practice.

We hope you will find the opportunities and news below interesting. If you have anything you’d like us to consider for a future newsletter – an article, a blog post, an opportunity, a rant even – please get in touch.

Wishing you all a lovely summer

Deb, Isabel, Emma and Claire
The RD1st UK Team

The Art in Coaching

Image: St Matthew Passion (as Matteuspassionen) for Folkoperan, Stockholm 2014. Directed by Joshua Sofaer. Photo by Markus Gårder.
Image: St Matthew Passion (as Matteuspassionen) for Folkoperan, Stockholm 2014. Directed by Joshua Sofaer. Photo by Markus Gårder.

Claire Antrobus interviews Joshua Sofaer about how his work as coach and his work as an artist interact.

What first attracted you to train as a coach?

A large component of what I do as an artist is speaking with people and I was looking for a way in which I could become more useful when listening to other voices and creating contexts for those voices to be heard. At the same time it would be true to say that I was initially skeptical about coaching. I think that was the result of preconceptions that I had about therapeutic language, which in fact coaching avoids.

After the RD1st course, what other coach training or research have you done?

In terms of formal training, I did the Clean Coaching with Emergent Knowledge distant learning course with The Clean Language Centre. Clean Coaching with Emergent Knowledge is a highly structured approach propounded by David Grove, and is a useful tool as part of a coaching skills kit. Apart from the methodological approach, it has made me very aware of how clean (or not!) my language is.

Regular co-supervision and The Coaching Lounge are important ongoing peer learning methods; places to share and gather ideas and to ask questions.

In terms of thinking about how a coaching approach might apply to larger groups, I found Harrison Owen’s Open Space Technology extremely useful. (I had been to a number of sessions advertised as being ‘open space’ but it was not until I read the whole book that I understood and could implement the process effectively.)

At the moment I’m reading Let Me Tell You a Story by Jorge Bucay, which I have found helpful in thinking about what can be achieved by having a clear symbolic or metaphorical picture of a situation.

How do you use coaching now in your work?

There are three main ways in which I use coaching in my work.

The first is a conventional coaching relationship with a client: what could be called ‘clear coaching’.

The second is as part of my long-standing practice as a facilitator and mentor, where I have found coaching invaluable as a way of enriching creative processes for artists and makers: what could be called ‘peer-to-peer coaching’.

The third is as a way of engaging with participants in my art practice. I suppose there are two different strands to this. One is about giving participants a voice in the work, and the other is as a form of art practice itself. For example, to give you an idea of how I have used coaching as a way of giving participants a voice, I directed a staged version of Bach’s St Matthew Passion for Folkoperan in Stockholm in which I replaced the biblical narrative with filmed interviews with the singers and musicians about the core themes of the Passion: forgiveness, guilt, pain, loneliness, fear, love. Coaching became a vitally important way to ‘hold the space’ for the singers and musicians who chose to share their personal stories.

To give an example of how I have used coaching as a medium in arts practice itself, in a piece called Object of Love for the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum in Finland, I created a structure where I offered 25 minute coaching sessions to members of the public in the art museum. Sessions took place in a large soundproof glass box. I wanted to see how an explicit use of a coaching in an art context might function. These conversations could be witnessed but not heard. People on the outside of the box could see the coachee undergoing some kind of change. I was interested in how levels of seeing might affect the coaching session. I wear an elaborate costume that covers my face. I wanted to become a symbol or a figure, rather than someone to whom the coachee would look for reassurance. The aim was to be an object that precipitates or moves the coachee, rather than a figure of authority, or a reassuring, validating presence.

My experience was that this structure offered permission to audience members to become coachees and to feel free to share. Some of this seems paradoxical: the public setting somehow stimulated a feeling of security. The soundproof glass box encouraged focus.

Image: Object of Love by Joshua Sofaer. Wäinö Aaltonen Museum, Turku 2013. Photo by Hannu Seppälä.
Image: Object of Love by Joshua Sofaer. Wäinö Aaltonen Museum, Turku 2013. Photo by Hannu Seppälä.

How would you describe coaching in your own words?

Coaching is a process through which an individual or group is supported to achieve personal or professional goals. It is centred in the objectives that are brought by the coachee. It is future and action focussed.

What have you found most challenging about coaching?

Despite having become aware of how spoken and non-verbal language is so full of bias and has the capacity to lead others, I still find it challenging to keep my own communications as clean and bias-free as I would want.

What have you found most useful about coaching?

Coaching has made me much more mindful of how I listen and elicit responses from others. As a dialogic tool it has influenced my personal relationships as well as my professional relationships.

What has surprised you about coaching?

I think what surprised me at first was that to be a productive coach you do not need to have disciplinary expertise or subject specific knowledge in the coachee’s area. The process does the work.

Are there any new or more ways you want to use coaching in the future?

It is important for me to continue with all strands of my coaching practice: ‘clear coaching’, ‘peer-to-peer coaching’, and coaching in my art practice. Most immediately I am working on a UK tour of a piece called Opera Helps. Members of the public apply for a ticket with a problem. Opera singers then go to their house and listen to the problem.

Sofaer_Opera Helps
Image: Opera Helps (as Operahjälpen) by Joshua Sofaer for Folkoperan, Stockholm 2012. Photo by Markus Gårder

When the problem is in the air, the singer selects an aria from the classical 19th Century repertoire and sings it directly in the person’s house with a pre-recorded professional backing track. When you are in the audience of an opera you bring your own life. You are hoping that some magic will happen on the stage and that you will leave somehow better for the experience. By locating the interaction in people’s homes and making the problem the reason for meeting, paradoxically, people listen to the music more acutely. It’s very interesting to work on active listening skills with opera singers, who have trained for so many years honing their singing voice; and extremely humbling to experience up close the power of their song.