What is coaching?
At the core of coaching is a conversation between the coach and the client, with different coaching models providing a map to follow. Coaching is results-oriented and the coach is a facilitator of change. Coaching encourages self-insight, enabling people to understand and harness their own abilities to reach their goals. It is practical, flexible, collaborative, usually short-term, based in the present and looking to the future.
I work with my clients to identify clear and achievable goals and to work towards those. Importantly, it is my clients that set the goals and work towards them, with support from me. The premise is that my clients have all of the tools they need to make necessary changes and that I can help them to learn about themselves and how to change.
There are many different flavours of coaching but the differences are about the focus of the content in coaching, rather than a fundamentally different approach to the coaching process. I have outlined below the main approaches that I use when I work with my clients. In practice, I use a combination of techniques from each of these approaches. The mix of techniques depends on the reason you have come to work with me, and we will discuss what will work best
Cognitive Behavioural Coaching
Cognitive behavioural coaching (CBC) emphasises the link between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Cognitive behavioural approaches emphasize that how we react to events is largely determined by our thoughts about them, not by the events themselves. Through examining and re-evaluating some of our less helpful thoughts we can develop and try out alternative (more helpful) ways of thinking and behaving that may be more effective helping us to move forwards. Part of my role as a cognitive behavioural coach is to help my clients to uncover any dominant unhelpful thoughts, so that they can then learn to challenge these and generate more helpful and unblocking ways of thinking.
Health coaching is the practice of health education and health promotion to enhance the wellbeing of individuals and to facilitate the achievement of their health-related goals. Typically, my clients in this area will have health-related goals, for example, to increase exercise, lose weight (and maintain weight loss), eat a healthy(ier) diet, stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol (LDL) levels, or to learn how to cope with a chronic condition.
Where health coaching differs from other forms of coaching is that there is generally a degree of psychoeducation involved in order to help clients develop an understanding of optimal health, and to be able to set realistic goals for change. As a Health Psychologist I have the specialist training to help my coachees understand what is optimal in terms of health behaviours, and to help them understand the process of change and to learn how to make new behaviours develop into sustained habits.
Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative person-centred form of guiding underpinned by the belief that all people have the innate ability to change under the right conditions. Lasting and meaningful change occurs when an individual is intrinsically motivated (i.e., the motivation comes from within the person).
I work collaboratively with my clients to explore their values and goals, to consider why their current behaviour is not aligned with their ideal behaviour, and to help them resolve this conflict. With my support, my clients explore their ambivalence to change (often a block) in order to develop motivation for change within. Key to this process is the development of ‘change talk’ where my clients begin to tell me why change might be beneficial for them. I help my clients to stay focussed on ‘change talk’ because it enables forward progress and helps them to develop intrinsic motivation for change.
Solution Focused Coaching
Solution focussed coaching is a person-centred approach to coaching with a fundamental belief that the client has all the resources they need to make the necessary changes. When I work in this approach, my primary task is to encourage my client to discover what works for them and to understand what their full potential could be. I work with my clients to help them understand their strengths and potential for change, rather than focussing on deficits.
The focus is very much on the future, not the past. My role is to ask questions, rather than provide answers. I help my clients to identify what has worked before in order to do more of that; and also, to identify what has not worked so well such that they can avoid doing that again. I also listen for and help my clients to examine negative self-talk (e.g., unhelpful thoughts). This is where the solution focused and cognitive behavioural approaches can work very well together.