We offer Coaching! Andrew explains his approach
Updated: Aug 17
When coaching first emerged as 'a thing', I felt very uncomfortable about it. The idea of coaching someone in life seemed almost condescending. My attitude then was, ‘surely life is something to be experienced, not coached?' Furthermore, I thought that counselling and therapy mainly existed for those moments when things get difficult in life. I also remember seeing people offering Coaching crop up in various professional journals and other marketing sources. The way some of these people presented themselves seemed quite flaky to me. In sum, I doubted the authenticity of providing such a thing as Coaching.
As a workplace coach and therapist, coaching made sense to me as a way of learning, developing or getting support in one’s job. My experience of it was and still is that it is a very effective method. Levels of performance and professionalism are required in organizations and mostly, this happens within bounds of responsibility for others. It seemed to me that life was to be enjoyed without the levels of performance and responsibility of the workplace. In line with this, workplace people often spoke to me about ‘being very different’ at home than at work. They still do. But are we really?
I took with the upmost seriousness the difference between the roles of coaching and counselling - how and when to apply them. With Coaching, I was concerned about where it fitted and where it might take us – professionally and personally.
I remember also that the introduction of Coaching stirred up counselling purists and academics alike. There was already a body of thought that argued that coaching and counselling shouldn’t be ‘mixed’ and that practitioners should stick to offering one or the other, not risk a mish-mash of both that would threaten professional boundaries. Concern about boundary issues resonated strongly with me so I made doubly sure that what I was offering clients and the limits and boundaries that went with the various offers of support were clearly communicated and maintained. This process also helped me to dig deeper into understanding and applying role boundaries between counselling and therapy as well as for coaching, mentoring, mediation and facilitation.
I became aware of my thinking softening about Coaching. Not so much because of boundary issues, but because of the need to acknowledge and respond to the different ways in which people learn. My experience had already taught me that people learn in different ways. My original training as well as my experience supported that. My attitude developed and I moved on to thinking, ‘if it is helpful to some people to think about what they do before they do it, or explore their feelings about it, or understand it better before they do it or even to work out and rehearse what they’re going to do with it before they try it – why not?’
The work of a coach is to do whatever he or she can to help a person learn what it is they want to learn, develop or enhance. Being able to discern and understand how people learn enables a coach to do their job. It provides one of a number of reference points or guiding frameworks. Knowing how to apply learning theory is fundamental to the role of the coach. A Coach must know and be able to apply more about what will help a person learn than they do what it is they are learning about. In fact, there are times when the knowledge or skill of the coach in the subject matter may be a constraint to the person being coach, or even get in the way.
As a counsellor working with Headscape, I often work with people who know that their lives and relationships will be enhanced if they develop the ways they communicate. In these instances, Coaching may well focus on learning and developing new and deeper ways of listening to people, talking with them and showing curiosity and interest in them. Coaching sometimes includes understanding oneself more deeply and learning new ways to take care of oneself. This may involve unlearning or letting go of old or redundant habits as well as relearning or building on those that work well. As a Coach I help a person reflect on these kinds of things and make sense with them of ‘where they are up’ to at any point. Then the work involves helping them plan where they want to be and how to go about getting there. Typically, developmental milestones and goals may be identified and offered as part of the coaching journey. The job of the coach is to ‘get alongside’ the person being coached, sit closely with them, encourage them, sometimes challenge them and always to be honest with them.
I am keen to offer Coaching to those who believe they will benefit from it. The motivation to change and strength of will of the person being coached may be called upon so that they can also work in support of themselves. Typically, people come to me through Headscape for Coaching to:
· Enhance relationships
· Make more of their time
· Explore and change their priorities in life
· Change career
· Improve performance
· Manage and lead others more effectively
· Work out why they are stuck and address it
· Change or fix something that’s not working
· Manage stress better
· Redress imbalances between home and work
Often a person has a few interconnected issues that they want to work on. This is fine and often related blockages or limitations can be realised and overcome. If and when these are more deeply rooted, as a Coach I may suggest and offer an approach other than coaching such as an episode of psychotherapy or counselling.
Alongside Headscape, I am keen to explore with people what it is they want or need and how best to go about it so that there is a confident match between needs and approach. This begins with either exploratory phone calls or needs analysis sessions. After which, an approach is agreed between a person and the practitioner – the beginning of the contract.
Whatever method of change, development or healing you chose in support of yourself, be sure to check out the authenticity of your practitioner – their qualifications, experience and preferred approaches.
Some may say that coaching is not for everyone. And I would say, we all have things to learn if we so choose.