Introduction: What is coaching and how does it work?
What IS coaching?
Coaching is to take someone where they can’t go by themselves. Often by creating clarity and a vision of the future, applying a focused discipline, and reaching for greater heights. That often requires trust and emotional connections when done in emotional, challenging, and bothersome subjects like this… But things worth having are usually quite hard to get, aren’t they?
I’ve heard a comparison where coaching is like a mix of consulting and therapy, and I highly agree in this case, so that’s how I think of coaching nowadays.
Someone who is consulting is someone who’s “engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a professional or technical field”, “the business of giving expert advice to other professionals,” or “the art of being able to look at analytical data and make an effective recommendation to a professional on what they should do in any given situation”. Slight varieties, but somewhere along those lines. Someone is good at something and tells others how they ought to do that thing.
According to most definitions, therapy is to work with those who are ill in some way. ”The treatment of mental or psychological disorders by psychological means.” or ”Treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.” In psychological terms, it’s often about creating behavioral change somehow.
Coaching for me is a mix of the two and definitely requires a focus on the future and intends to open up a conversation about greater possibilities – and then supports the client’s work to achieve the goals and make the initial vision into reality. It’s a lot about teaching, and it’s got to be tailored to fit the client. I mix a large variety of tools from actual therapy and consulting to philosophy, where the goal is to share insight and help clients see things differently and learn new skills to overcome obstacles. To do so, there’s often a need for behavioral changes. Without a behavior change, the outcome will be the same as before. We’re not striving to remain the same here.
Behavioral changes are done through questioning – plenty of it. To get motivated to do differently, we dig through why, how, and why again to achieve new insights and ways of thinking about things. Changing isn’t motivated unless you know WHY well enough. You want to know WHY so well you’re EAGER to change, rather than resistant to it.
Common core themes people recognize in relation to change come from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, CBT, and ACT. To treat or change the physical aspects, we use physiotherapy and manual therapies. What one could call the next step of physiotherapy, actual exercise is used to facilitate that change as it’ll help not just with the physical stuff but aids a lot of psychological functions as well.
The coaching seems to work great digitally when we live in different places – but some find it more personal and pleasant when they meet up locally in Uppsala.
Doing it here allows us to get a closer relationship and thus discuss troubles even more profound and better. For some, that close relationship is essential to open up to topics necessary to discuss to make the progress they might need to get forward. It might make CBT treatment more manageable since it’s often something emotional. Having someone rational there telling you things are fine and guiding you directly could make a tremendous difference.
Some find it more relaxing to be outside and take a walk while taking challenging discussions. Being outside, walking and talking, or even running here and there are ways of doing it that some won’t find just comfortable and pleasant, but it could also contribute to better thinking and reasoning while solving problems together. My experience is that compared to sitting in a small room in a chair and just staring at someone else when talking, that is far superior. Doing it the “classic” way with two people in a room, watching each other’s every move, might feel uncomfortable or really, really clinical, which might not help. When taking a walk, it doesn’t matter if it’s silent for a few moments when someone’s thinking about something or digesting some new input. It’s closer to a relaxed conversation between friends. That’s generally closer to what we want since the clinical feel is less likely to make people feel at ease and share.
If we do meet up locally, it’s possible to exercise or treat manually as well. Those are other activities we could use while discussing relevant matters and trying to solve the puzzle of life.
Using the body in some way is always a part of the treatment. There’s none out there who doesn’t need a good, adequate dose of physical exercise. If you don’t know what that is, it could be useful to get some help. Some feel really good when they exercise really, really hard and blow off all that steam and stress – they get nothing but positive results from that. Some really can’t use their bodies much before they get into serious trouble and decline energy-wise and get more of their symptoms. Some have never exercised, and some have no idea how to. Strength training might be a crucial part of the treatment. Some benefit a ton from moving just a couple of hours a week, and if that’s the case, some guiding in the gym and personal training might be incredibly beneficial for their pain. The tricky part is that it needs to be adequate, balanced, and good enough. Exercise to treat these things and fitness are two completely different things. That’s often the most challenging part. Some are too tired to move at all – but should. Some are so eager to exercise they do too much. Finding the balance is crucial.
Having the freedom to get outside and do things locally might be used for many things. It’s not necessarily used for walking in and of itself; I like having the freedom of doing things that bigger institutions rarely do. There’s a good bunch of examples that I’ve done with clients “out there” where people ask if “this really is a part of the program?”.
Regaining the freedom to be able to drive using CBT could be one of those examples. An accident or incident could get you a stress response big enough to cause panic attacks or PTSD. That could rob you of the freedom and mobility driving gives you. If getting into a car gives you such anxiety that you freak out entirely, you shouldn’t drive. Solving that might be easier if someone’s by your side. Someone you trust who’ve done it before.
Fear of the dark has been treated with a similar CBT approach. Doing what’s scary or perhaps even terrifying might be impossible to do yourself, but it might be possible to get through the necessary process with someone there with you.
Panic attacks have been treated. They generally need to be treated where they are provoked – so we need to be in an uncomfortable environment. With that flexibility, people regained plenty of freedom, self-esteem and normalized a big part of everyday life, which is so much fun!
Eating disorders, orthorexia, comfort eating, or too strange eating patterns are hard to tend to by just talking about them. Perspective or even tending to why it’s there might work far better. Cooking together and looking at what’s reasonable and customary seems to work far better than just informing the bothered one.
Social anxiety has been treated.
Sprints have been made.
Appetite has been found, and the joy around food has been rediscovered – to appreciate it once more.
There have been some heavy dead-lifts.
Death and values have been the topic at graveyards. “What’s TRULY worth doing? Where is it worth spending time, energy, and resources? What’s worth thinking about in this short time we’re here?”
Social aspects have been tossed around. Should one keep relationships that you suffer from? Could divorce be the best solution? “Should you talk to your mum about this?”
Techniques while running has been discussed, practiced, and repeated.
Mindfulness practice has been done. Look at small things. Breathe. Pick some flowers. Feel your feet. Eat, taste, feel fruit and berries…
This eclectic solution is why I had a client laugh a couple of hours into a session once, saying, “I just can’t believe this is part of the program!”
Well, I do what I can to get my people as well as possible.😃Life consists of all sorts of things– and then you’ll need to be comfortable talking about what’s important – your actual, genuine problems. My ambition is that you should be safe doing so with me. Doing these things, tailoring the solutions for people and doing tough shit with them – and watching them get through it and get out on the other side with tears in their eyes because they’re so proud, is what’s so rewarding and exciting here.
If you’re not doing it with me, could you find someone else to do the same thing with, where you could help each other out with accountability and listen to each other?