The Rise of Coaching in Italy with Sonja Caramagno

Sonja and Timothy Gallwey Sonja and Timothy Gallwey

La disciplina del “Coaching”, esportata dagli Stati Uniti, dove è nato negli anni ’60 ad opera di Timothy Gallwey, si è diffusa in Italia in tempi relativamente recenti. Le sue radici nascono nello sport, nelle neuroscienze, e nel business management ed è un percorso mirato di miglioramento, crescita, consapevolezza e conoscenza di se, che punta il suo obiettivo fissato dall’atleta e si basa principalmente sugli insegnamenti di Gallwey e della sua teoria delll’Inner Game, che sostiene che l’avversario principale di un giocatore è il giocatore stesso. Si fonda sul continuo apprendimento, dagli errori e dalle esperienze di ognuno, esaltando le risorse ed il valore inestimabile di ogni persona. Il coaching quindi lavora lì dove convinzioni e atteggiamenti limitanti bloccano il desiderio di cambiamento e ne alimentano le paure, attraverso domande e comunicazione con il coach. Per capire meglio questa affascinante pratica, La Gazzetta Italiana  ha intervistato Sonja Caramagno, di professione Mental Coach.

In 1960, W. Timothy Gallwey was captain of the Harvard University Tennis Team. In the 1970s, he learned meditation techniques that he believed enhanced his powers of concentration in a manner that improved his game. Since then, Gallwey has authored a series of books in which he set forth a new methodology for coaching and for the development of personal and professional excellence in a variety of fields that he calls the “Inner Game.” This methodology developed into a coaching platform that has gained significant momentum in sports and the corporate world both in the U.S. and in Italy.

Contributing writer Francesca Mignosa brings readers another intriguing interview, this time with Sonja Caramagno who specializes in this “Inner Game” coaching for athletes, individuals and corporations in Italy.

Francesca V. Mignosa (FVM): This type of “Inner Game” Coaching has existed in the U.S. for quite a while, but there has been an incredible boom in Italy in this field in the last 10-20 years. Why do you think this is the case?

Sonja Caramagno (SC): I attribute the growth of coaching in Italy in recent years to an attention to personal well-being. 

In Italy, the number of coaches and their overall role is expanding. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the most important and widespread association of coaches in the world. It has over 30,000 members in more than 140 countries. The Italian chapter’s members rose from 350 in 2017 to about 450 in 2019. It is important to note that we are one of at least 10 coaching associations in Italy so the numbers are relative, but significant because we are talking about an increase of more than 30 percent.

Coaching, according to ICF "is a partnership with clients that, through a creative process, stimulates reflection, inspiring them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Thus, through so-called "powerful" questions and forms of direct communication, the coach supports the client in the process of achieving his/her goal. A coach believes in the personal resources of his/her clients and in their creativity, and stimulates awareness of their inner dynamics, of their convictions and of the filters they use to observe reality.

FVM: You studied directly with Timothy Gallwey in Madrid. How was this experience? 

SC: I got to know Timothy Gallwey, initially, by reading his books on the Inner Game and, in 2016, I attended his 10-day course. Every year since then, I meet with him at least once. He is the undisputed father of modern coaching. His most significant phrase is "The adversary hiding in our mind is much stronger than what we find on the other side of us." 

The path that I followed in Madrid consisted precisely in deepening the mechanisms of a double level of play, both in sport and in life: an external game, made up of "adversaries" or external events and conditioning and an inner game, where the opponent, much more difficult than the first, hides in our mind.

Mastering your own "Inner game" means learning better, faster, in a natural, pleasant and sustainable way. In a world that is increasingly chaotic, complex and full of stimuli, creating many interferences, a conscious Inner Game brings a focus attentive to oneself making any decision-making process fluid, the basis for achieving great results.

FVM: What  are your qualifications and certifications? 

SC: I am a Professional Certified Coach according to the ICF guidelines, an Inner Game® Practitioner, a Professional Certified and mBIT Coach, and a Hogan® Assessor. 

I work as a Corporate and Executive Coach for CEOs, managers and teams and I am an HR trainer, in national and multinational companies, for individual and team professional development. I deal with assertive and effective interpersonal communication, feedback building, active listening, and development of people's motivational levers.

I am passionate about sports and a former professional in the discipline of women's five-a-side (futsal) football. I follow golf athletes as well as judo, tennis, swimming, and rugby players, among others.

I am responsible for a special section entitled "Golf in the head" for TgCom24 where I dig into a deeper understanding of the effective relationship between the mind and golf. I use sport, particularly golf, as a metaphor for developing skills and individual performance in the company.

I am an Instructor of the Master in "Sport Coaching" promoted by Life Coach Italy srl. Also, I was a member of the Steering Committee of ICF ITALY as Treasurer 2017-2018 and Project Leader ICF Coaching Week for the year 2019.

FVM: How did you first get interested in this professional field and why? 

SC: I’ve always been passionate about Psychology. After an initial career in the business field, one day I identified coaching as a method for personal development and growth that I felt was more in line with myself. I attended a Master's Degree with Giovanna Giuffredi of Life Coach Italy in Rome almost 10 years ago and moved on from there.

FVM: Are you currently working on any exciting projects or programs? 

SC: Yes! There are two projects that I'm most passionate about. The first is in the sporting field for growth and development of the Talents Team of the Marco Simone Golf Club. The club is based in Rome, owned by Lavinia Biagiotti and will host the renowned Ryder Cup in 2020. The boys are between 8 and 17-years-old. For me, it is very challenging from all perspectives because they are young athletes and they are writing their personal and professional sports future and because they are part of a wider project such as the creation of the Ryder Cup in the club they represent. 

The other is a project promoted by the Luiss Business School in Rome whereby students of preselected Masters, including Masters in the health sector or medical professions, are supported by a coach for four or six sessions to accelerate their own professional and personal development.

FVM: How can readers contact you? 

SC: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., on LinkedIn under Sonja Caramagno,, or on Instagram: sonjacaramagno.

One desire I have always had is to follow influential CEOs, entrepreneurs and politicians who could really change the economic and social fortunes of our country. I would really like to contribute to awakening and making those "minds" aware. I hope to make this dream a reality.