This chapter explores how neuroscience may be starting to explain why coaching with art works so powerfully and effectively, supporting the importance of art in coaching, and in particular the research into hemispherical lateralisation – the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Anna Sheather explains that decades of research by neuroscientists have resulted in greater insights into the hemispheres’ respective functions and their importance in how we perceive the world around us. Right-hemisphere functions resonate with many coaching areas and are explored here: working with the whole, complexity and paradox, metaphor, frame shifts, understanding the true narrative, the aha! moment and the transformational shift, and emotional value. Coaching case studies are included to demonstrate the functions in practice and how using art gives the right hemisphere a voice. The extraordinary importance of the left hemisphere is also discussed, recognising that some left-hemisphere functions can bring challenges. These challenges and how to quieten the dominant left hemisphere are also explored.

However, both hemispheres are needed to function at our best and Anna Sheather demonstrates how coaching with art brings the two hemispheres together. Once insight is achieved through the right hemisphere, the left hemisphere provides analysis and planning, linking new insights to what is already known, enabling clients to move towards their aims.