Never had a life coach before and wonder what it might be like?
Read the following case study to get a flavour.
Case Study - Session one of a coaching engagement.
Real client names are not used in order to protect confidentiality.
Coach and client discuss the client questionnaire completed in advance of the session and sent to the coach. We also develop a clear understanding of what coaching can provide making clear that this is not counselling by explaining the difference if necessary.
Listening and clarifying
Dean, an accountant, had successfully made the transition to private practice following redundancy in 2013. He came to me for three sessions of coaching on the recommendation of his wife. He approached me for three sessions of coaching because he felt that he was letting himself down, not fulfilling his potential.
Dean initially, described his problem as ‘poor time management”. Asked to say more he explained that he had been accepting that work comes secondary to everything else in his life and that this had three consequences:
1. He was holding his personal life together well, supporting his son, and wife.
2. There is a risk that his business will run into cash flow problems.
3. His leisure and family time were over shadowed by guilt because his work was being neglected
I repeated the list back to him as he had said it to me. This made him realise that he was making no distinction between potentially very positive things (supporting his wife and son) with negative things (procrastination).
I summarised this realisation using the statement, “You are a good husband and a good father”. He accepted this by nodding and a smile appeared on his face. I noted that at this point his body language shifted from being very tense and rigid to being more relaxed.
I asked him to tell me more about the problems he had identified: at this stage of the conversation the words that stood out revolved around how what he described as his lack of focus, self-discipline and poor time management, was making him feel. The words “Lazy, guilty, and lousy” sounded as though they were weighing him down. I repeated back to him the words he had used, ‘the more you neglected the work the worse you feel, the worse you feel, the less motivation you have to do anything about the situation.” I followed this up with the question; what do you want to change? He replied, “I want to go back to the habits that enable me to manage my client accounts effectively.”
When asked what it was like when he managed his client accounts better he detailed all the strategies that he know he should be following; he also listed the positive qualities he knew he had.
Feeding back what I was hearing I said:
You seem to be saying two things ; first that you are putting off dealing with client accounts; you are also struggling with negative self-talk and stressful levels of self-criticism. He agreed that this was correct.
I then asked “what do you want to focus on in order to achieve your goal”.
After a long pause he relied that the negative thoughts he was having sapped his motivation. He if could change the negative thoughts then he would be able to do the things he knows he has to do to manage his client accounts better.
I then talked to him explicitly about Cognitive Behavioural Coaching concepts of Performance Enhancing Thoughts (PETs) and Performance Inhibiting Thoughts (PITs) and asked him if this sounded like a useful area to be working in. He agreed that it would. I then offered a coaching intervention that would help him to reframe his negative thoughts. This intervention was the use of written affirmations as an approach to reframing.
Action for change agreed
I described the rules for writing affirmations and how they can be used to best effect. We co- constructed the affirmations according the rules. He opted not to share his affirmations with anyone.
The image above shows Dean's Positive Affirmations
His in-between session task was to place the affirmations where he would be able to see them every day; they should, if targeted correctly, become a tool for releasing energy and motivation.
Scaling – This conversation was designed to give sense of purpose, energise and gauge commitment. He was asked to stand up for the scaling task, imagining that the scale 0-10 stretched out before him along the floor. Zero represented no commitment and 10 very high commitment. I asked him to rate his level of commitment to the plan to use the affirmations. He scored his commitment at 8 on the scale because, doing this he moved decisively from the point on the floor marked as zero to point 8. He described this as a high score, because “the affirmations made sense to me, I want to think more positively and know that if I work at it regularly that it will make a difference.” He responded that he could not give it 10 because he had never done anything like this before and was unsure about how it would work.
We agreed to meet again in 10 days’ time, this would give him enough time to work with them and see some impact. I offered support in any adjustment of the affirmations before we met, if he felt this was necessary, reminding him that he had both my email and mobile number for contact.
End of session evaluation
Each session closes with the client providing feedback on how the coach has listened, summarised to and used feedback to check understanding, and used questioning to promote reflection and client self-awareness, identify goals and options and will to make life enhancing changes.