EMCC Global Provider Summit

24-25th November 2020


EMCC Global Provider Summit

24-25th November 2020


Catherine Gorham

Catherine Gorham: Nature as a dynamic co-partner - the changing landscape

Session on 24 November 2020 15:30 UTC - View on timetable


One of the more positive consequences of Covid has been the emergence of outdoor coaching as mainstream within the coaching market, expanding far beyond its previous niche position. This could be the combined effect of a greater sense of connection with nature generally and the practicalities of outdoors being ‘safer’ than meeting indoors – is this shift being driven by coaches and/or clients? As a coach and supervisor specialising in Nature as Dynamic Co-Partner, I embrace this opportunity for the huge benefits of outdoor practice to be fully realised.

An unfortunate consequence of Covid is its impact on mental health. Nature is empirically proven to bring restorative benefits to body and mind and yet, are employers making this link and recognising the value of outdoor coaching or even nature being invited into virtual coaching? Coaches prior to Covid reported that they couldn’t bring natural objects into office-based corporate client sessions as that would be seen as trivialising and managers didn’t have time to leave the office. Do you see a parallel opening up into this approach from purchasing organisations? Post Covid might the market revert? What are the levers for traction?

Given the likelihood of increased vulnerability in our clients and the need for attention to psychological safety for outdoor practice, coupled with an inevitable shift in the relational paradigm when connecting with nature, is there a collective responsibility for the coaching profession to maintain safety? Should outdoor coaching become a specific component within coaching training programmes and competence frameworks?

Learning outcomes:

  • Reflection on the growing trend towards outdoor coaching – potential drivers, barriers, influencers
  • Increased awareness of the specialist skills required for coaching outdoors to optimise impact and minimise the risk to psychological safety – this is far beyond ‘coaching + outdoors’ or ‘walk and talk’ as it is often positioned.

My learning:

  • Insight into global experiences and perspectives around coaching outdoors
  • Identifying opportunities for influencing to promote coaching outdoors as a respected specialism in its own right.


Catherine Gorham is an EMCC Global accredited coach (Senior Practitioner) and supervisor and leadership/change consultant. Previously an internal OD consultant and executive coach in challenging organisational contexts such as the NHS, she now works independently and won the Most Outstanding Leadership Coach UK Award 2017.

Catherine’s portfolio extends from high performance (eg working with Chief Executives and top teams to optimise leadership impact) through to mental health conversations, offering a safe space at the threshold with counselling for individuals to explore their vulnerability and possibilities for change. She specialises in psychological safety as a leadership tool and is currently completing her accreditation to be a UK pioneer for the Psychological Safety Index, supporting teams to benchmark their journey towards deeper trust and dialogue. She also train and supervises internal coaches and provides mediation services within complex organisational systems.

Her passion for the natural world has led her to integrate this into her practice, where appropriate, with accelerated results. She now delivers masterclasses and specialist supervision for coaches, supervisors and therapists on Nature as Dynamic Co-partner, working with nature as a mirror to the internal landscape. Her passion has led her to write articles on the subject and even deliver a workshop in a lighthouse!

Catherine has strong personal values – integrity, authenticity, compassion and transparency – which are reflected in how she meets her clients.