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Working with collusion

 When I hear the word ‘collusion’, I notice the temptation to want to deny or avoid or get confused or not look deeper and then I explore how this word impacts me and I recognise the situations in which a part of me responds “oh yes I know what you mean” or I think to myself  ‘yeah that sucks’ or “you poor thing” or “you should try this”!

The reason I am choosing to write about this, is to share my thinking on this subject which began on a recent teleconference call with the students from the current diploma in coaching supervision course. We spent an hour exploring this topic and came up with examples of what we saw as colluding – it’s the sense of falling into the pit with the client or the highness and excitement of ‘yes you can do anything’ or furiously offering suggestions or moving on quickly over a topic the client doesn’t want to talk about or feeling slightly off balance and not exploring it.

Do any of these sound familiar?

What are the ways you collude?

Do you talk about this topic in supervision?

For me, collusion is unsconcious and it involves me leaving myself and being caught in the energy of the client and not recognising it; instead I am  acting out of it to keep it all unconscious.

Using a Transactional Analysis frame, collusion  can be identified as being when we are coming from any other place than our Adult; if we find ourselves  in parent or child then it’s important to stop and look – what is happening here?

Do you know what these different ego states feel like or what you think or say in them – and can you recognise when you move between them?

For me, I recognise when I am colluding in my body and energy – in adult I have an unconditional acceptance, there is no judgment or right or wrong, there’s no where to get to – it’s neutral I am not attached, I have opinions and I am also aware of my not knowing – I have a curiosity and I notice with interest and it feels clean and clear. Whereas, what I notice in myself and what others who I supervise experience as colluding, is an attachment or a sticky feeling or a fogginess that is not addressed  – or even a giddy feeling in sessions with our clients. It can show up as inappropriate care-taking  – like being a parent, and when this dynamic is not made explicit there is often an air of secrecy!

What is it for you?

And what are you doing to work with it?

One of the first steps is to notice and then to name it, firstly and most importantly to ourselves and in some cases to our client; it depends on the relationship and contract. Once it is named we can observe it and explore it and thereby we move back to consciousness and unconditional acceptance and curiosity and the adult ego state.

Another way to work with colluding is in our contracting, to have a specific agreement to talk about the things we don’t want to talk about. Often during sessions I find myself asking myself or supervisee or coachee “what is it that is not being said?” – to bring the unconscious to conscious awareness. This is one of the reasons that supervision is so essential; how else do we get to examine the stuff beyond our awareness?

I encourage us all to get more fully acquainted with collusion – what is known, cannot blind-side us.

For more information about collusion and working with it please email me at


Leanne Lowish CSA Assistant Director – CSA trainer for supervision programmes in UK and Australia