What is coaching, counselling or psychotherapy, and why might you benefit from it?
Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2018
Coaching, counselling and psychotherapy can be life-changing experiences. Renata and I certainly have had lots of such experiences ourselves, through various processes; and we have each helped lots of individuals to change their lives for the better.
But many people have no idea what these kinds of help involve. So here is what Renata says about her work:
But how, exactly, would Renata help you? This is what she writes:
“I practice a form of coaching/counselling called Lifestyle Coaching and Holistic Counselling.
“This overlaps all other forms of talk-therapy and coaching guidance, but it also significantly includes the latest research on the connection between the brain and the guts, and the role that gut health plays in sound emotional wellbeing (which some people call good ‘mental health’). It also includes insights from research on diet, physical exercise, sleep patterns, and stress. It is often said that an army ‘marches on its stomach’, and it is true that successful individuals, in every walk of life, manage their lifestyle in such a way as to maintain healthy diet, guts, muscles, sleep patterns, and so on. And when they don’t, they don’t have much staying power, and they under-perform in an unhappy life-space!”
Why not give Renata a chance to help you with your apparently intractable problems? Telephone: 01422 843 629
And now, here is what Jim say’s about his own service:
“I have helped more than one thousand individuals to overcome distressing problems of anger, anxiety, depression, stress, panic, traumatic experience, couple conflict, insecure attachment, and so on.
I do that work via conversation, which is warm and friendly, and helpful, and insightful, and exploratory, and designed to help you to straighten out your story in your head, and to straighten out your feelings in your heart and your guts.
I also give advice on how to manage your body-brain-mind, and your environment, for optimum functioning.
As indicated on the main homepage, we at ABC Coaching, practice the most up to the minute form of emotive-cognitive therapy and coaching. It’s called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), and it integrates the best elements of all the pre-existing systems of counselling and therapy. And it includes a strong focus upon lifestyle factors, like diet, exercise and sleep patterns.”
News and updates about ABC Coaching and Counselling Services
in January to March 2018
And about Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT)
23rd March 2018
In this brief newsletter, we aim to update you about the books and blogs we have been researching and writing – on diet, exercise, sleep, and emotional self-management – at ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, and publishing via the Institute for Emotive-Cognitive embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).
Following on from our very busy and successful year in 2017, we have continued to research and write according to our declared plans.
In the first few weeks of this year, Renata has been busy researching the science of sleep, especially in so far as it affects our emotional functioning and general health and well-being.
Today we want to share with you a blog post which is ‘hot off the press’. It concerns the impact of blue light LED devices, like computer screens, iPads, iPhones, and the negative effects these devices have upon sleep, if we use them close to bedtime! This is it: iPads and iPhones disrupt your sleep…***
The power of coaching to transform your life, at home or in work
In this blog I want to describe one of the advantages and one of the disadvantages of having coaching, and what the coaching relationship uniquely offers.
There are many advantages to having coaching but I want to mention one of the most powerful advantages.
One of the top advantages of being coached
Being listened to, fully and sensitively, by someone who will respect your boundaries, and not try to impose their world view, or values, on you, and who is a skilled and effective listener, is a wonderfully relaxing and stress-reducing experience. The deceptively simple process of being listened to properly (meaning actively) helps you to return to the confident person you once were when you were younger.
“To excel at the highest level – or any level, really – you need to believe in yourself, and hands down, one of the biggest contributors to my self-confidence has been private coaching.” Stephen Curry
You may think: “Surely most people listen to each other properly. What’s the big deal about being listened to by a coach?”
Well, my research shows that most people do not know how to listen effectively. They most often engage in interruptions of the speakers concerns. Perhaps I should give you some examples of those kinds of ‘roadblock’ to communication.
Robert Bolton (1979) listed twelve of the most common ‘roadblocks to communication’ that people regularly use when communicating with each other. Here they are:
Asking excessive or inappropriate questions
Using logical argument, and/or
The first four responses are judging responses; the second four are ways in which people send solutions to you; and the final three responses are ways in which the ‘listener’ is avoiding your concerns.
These roadblocks are particularly unhelpful if the speaker is under any kind of stress; and these bad habits are used a lot of the time in conversation. So that’s why talking to friends and family has limitations. People send roadblocks in their communication with each other and don’t realise they are doing it.
Why coaching is different from ordinary conversation
When you hire a professional coach, you have the chance to fully express yourself, knowing that you will be fully listened to with no road blocking of your communication.
The specific active listening skills that the coach will use, are as follows:
# The coach reflects back to you what you have told them, to ensure accuracy of understanding and for you to hear what you have on your mind. The simple act of telling a coach what your current challenges or goals are, externalises what is going on in your mind, and is very good for reducing stress.
Our brains are designed to deal with incoming information, and to act on the basis of the information they receive. They are not designed for rumination (endlessly recycling information).
The act of expressing yourself is very good for you and frees up a lot of stored energy. Being understood by another person, and having your feelings felt by them, is therapeutic. Reflective listening by the coach helps you to know yourself better, and to feel understood.
# Summarising the main points, is another aspect of the coach’s approach to active listening. Your coach will summarize what you are saying at intervals, to keep you on track.
# Clarifying your concerns or goals also helps. Some goals may become apparent as you express yourself, and clarifying what you want is an essential part of the listening process.
The process of active listening helps to build a relationship of trust between you and your coach, as the coach gives evidence of their attunement to you and their empathy. This is also an important constituent of the coaching process.
The listening skills described above can be found in one of the best books I’ve read in the area of human relationships. This is titled, ‘People Skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others and resolve conflict’, by Robert Bolton PhD. It took him ten years to write, and you can tell! It is superb, full of wisdom, and an invaluable manual on how to communicate properly with people. I strongly recommend it.
What about the disadvantages of having coaching?
The conditions under which you may be offered coaching, (for example in the workplace), make a difference as to whether you will get the full benefits of coaching.
For example, you may be ordered to receive coaching as part of your job. But this won’t necessarily work for you, or for the company involved. Indeed it may not even be coaching, properly speaking!
Jenny Rogers is an executive coach with more than 25 years’ experience, and her clients are usually senior leaders from a wide range of organisations. She has also trained many hundreds of coaches and managers in coaching skills.
In her book ‘Coaching skills: A handbook’ (2004) she describes what she does when she is asked to coach someone in an organisation. She always makes sure that the potential client wants to have the coaching, and she has a half-hour meeting in private with the employee.
“I cannot work with a reluctant client”, she states: (page 166).
The client needs to trust the coach, and she goes on to say:
“I know how impossible it would be to create trust if the client believes the process is about assessment – a completely different process”.
Why won’t it work to have coaching if you are reluctant to take part, and see no value in the process?
Firstly, you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.
Secondly, people read each other’s emotional state and intent non-verbally, using ‘mirror neurons’, and a coachee will know, non-consciously whether they are being deceived or manipulated!
Thirdly, people have told me that it can be a humiliating experience: because the lack of choice in the process indicates to the employee that their managers have little respect for the employee’s professional integrity and work expertise.
Fourth, a person who is ‘assigned to the role’ of coach is not the same thing as a person who is committed to the growth of others.
The process of coaching won’t work if you don’t want to try it out with all your heart; or if the coach is not a real coach; or the process has a hidden agenda! (The coach has to establish a trusting and supportive relationship with you for it to work).
What coaching does for people
So what do the best coaches do?
Julie Starr, a highly respected coach and consultant, wrote the book ‘The Coaching manual’, which was one of the set books on my Coaching Diploma course! In it she states that:
“If you imagine yourself being coached, you will perhaps appreciate why so many engage the services of a coach. This person, your coach, will listen to you with a curiosity to understand who you are, what you think and generally how you experience the world.
“Your coach will reflect back to you, with the kind of objective view that creates real clarity. What’s most important during that conversation is you, your success, happiness and ultimate fulfilment. Having worked to establish what exactly you want to achieve from coaching, these goals and objectives become the focus of the conversation.
“As a consequence, the only agenda happening in the conversation is your agenda, which your coach will often guard more closely than you do…
“When things don’t go well your coach supports you. When you experience success your coach celebrates your achievements. Your coach will also help you to pinpoint exactly what you did that worked so well, so that you can do it again.
“A coaching relationship is like no other, simply because of its combination of objective detachment and commitment to the goals of the individual. Little wonder then that so many people are finding that coaching relationships can help them develop and learn in ways that enable them to have or achieve what they really want.”
In this blog I have described one of the key skills used by a good coach: active listening! I have also explained the advantages of having a coach, and clarified why being coached has to be actively chosen by someone, or the trusting relationship, on which coaching is based, can’t develop. Finally, the unique features of a coaching relationship have been described.
Here is a great TED talk by Patti Dobrowolski called ‘Draw your future – take control of your life’ (‘Best TED talks 2015’) in which she explains a simple but very powerful way of finding out how you can improve your life for the better.
Please take a look and see if this is of any use to you.
Contact me if you want to experience the benefits of being coached, and to bring more happiness, peace and self-confidence into your life.
Magic models – how to get back your energy quickly after you’ve had a setback!
Coping with setbacks
There are lots of things that we have available in our popular culture to lift our mood after we’ve had a setback or hit a major problem which is stressing us. We’re often advised to do retail therapy, eat chocolate, get down the local for a drink, book a holiday, buy a DVD, get our hair done, go and watch the latest film, eat exotic take-out food, and so on. The list is endless. Generally, we try to do something which will take our mind off problems and distract ourselves. But does this approach work?
Actually, these popular solutions have a few drawbacks:
They cost money (what if we have none spare, and are struggling to survive?)
They may have a physical cost for us (a hangover, or weight gain, for examples).
They are short-term palliatives, but they do not work in the long run. (They produce short-term pleasure, but they leave us open to longer-term pain!)
Basically, their effect doesn’t last very long – it quickly wears off. Have you noticed how soon we can forget a brilliant party that we went to, or how rapidly we get used to that new outfit we bought?
When I am fed up, or feeling low, I personally like to use techniques that I can use anywhere, work quickly, don’t cost anything financially, are easily understood, and quickly bring me back to that state of happiness and deep appreciation of the marvel of life and of human beings that I usually have!
Here’s an example of a way of ‘re-framing’ your problems, which can be really helpful at times.
This was said by Smokey Robinson’s mother:
“From the day that you’re born, till you ride in the hearse, there’s nothing so bad that it couldn’t be worse!”
Good, isn’t it? Perfect if you’re stuck in traffic and you’re trying to get home for your tea after you’ve been grafting away at work all day, and there’s no way out of the situation. But the situation could always be so much worse than it is.
In this blog, I want to share with you two great models I use when I have a problem or setback and I’ll explain to you how they work and hopefully you’ll find them of value to you in your own life.
Actually, to be completely honest, they don’t cost anything financially, but there is a price. The price is making a mental effort to open your mind and try them out. Are you up for that? Or have you dismissed them already? We’ll see – here are my two favourite models:
The first model: The ‘Nine Windows’ model
The first one was created by Dr Jim Byrne, and is called the ‘Nine Windows model’. This, like the Smokey Robinson quote above, is a way to re-frame your problem or difficulty so that it shows up as less stressful.
It consists of several perspectives which Jim borrowed from moderate Buddhism and moderate Stoic philosophy, plus one which I contributed!
How to use the ‘Nine windows’ model
Firstly, you think about the problem or hassle that is getting you down at the moment. Have you got a clear picture of it in your mind?
Secondly, holding this problem firmly in your mind, you look at it through each of the windows in turn (see the diagram below).
At the bottom of each window is a statement that is a viewpoint on life, or a world view – or what some people would think of as a helpful belief. Now experiment with taking on this view of life for a few minutes, as if you decided to agree with the statement for a short time.
Read the statement and then think about your problem, from that viewpoint. Or, to say it another way, try the idea on for size like you would if you were getting a new suit from a shop.
As you look at your problem through the perspective of each of the windows, see if the statements have any effect on how you see your problem. Do it slowly and carefully, finishing up with Window No.6.
By the time you get to window No., if you have really taken the ideas on board, there should be a change in the way you see your current problem.
These viewpoints, or world views, have been created over a long time. You don’t need to know their origins in order for them to work. This process is a bit like the way we use electricity. Most of us don’t know how electricity works, but we still can use and benefit from it.
The second model:
Robert Holden’s STOP technique
The STOP technique is very simple, and the four letters stand for the following words: Strengths; Teaching; Opportunities; and Positive. The idea is to ask yourself the following questions:
Strengths: What strengths do I have that could be used to help me to cope with this problem?
Teaching: What is this problem teaching me?
Opportunities: What opportunism arise through this problem?
Positive: Putting the negative aspects on one side for the moment, what positive things could come out of having this problem?
How to use the STOP technique
Here are some general guidelines on how to use it. Sit down in a quiet place with a pad and pen. Then work through this checklist:
Think of a problem or hassle that you have at the moment. Check out how you feel about it.
Now write down a list of the strengths that you have developed in your life as you have coped with all the challenges that you have had to face. There will be a lot. If you have no idea, ask a family member or good friend who has seen you go through various dilemmas or difficulties. Ask them for some suggestions. These strengths will help you cope with the challenge you are now facing. It is good for you to see what resilience skills you have developed.
Then when you have finished the list, and have read through your strengths, return to your problem and ask yourself, “What is this problem teaching me?”
The next step is to look again at your problem, and ask yourself, “What opportunities am I getting from having this problem at this time?” There will be new skills or experiences that you can’t gain any other way than having to deal with the problem. “Problems are sent to test and teach us!” Humans are problem seeking beings!
Finally, we come to the “Positive” bit – What have you got so far from having your problem? What have been the positivegains from having it? Search hard and there will be positive gains if you keep looking. The worst case scenario might be that having this big problem has taught you that you can endure big problems; that they don’t have to defeat you! But they can also make you a better problem-solver.
Now return to how you originally felt about your problem before you took it through the ‘STOP’ model. Do you see the problem in the same way or has there been a shift in your view of it?
In this blog I have described two models, or mental strategies, which you can use as a way of tackling a problem that is getting you down, or you want to resolve in some way.
Both models work by getting you to see your problem from a different viewpoint, and if you try them out, you will get the benefits of being less affected by your problem than you were. You will have some hope and sense of possibility that wasn’t there before, and your mental ‘load’ will be lightened.
Also, you’ve got the models there to use again and again in the future, when life throws up another challenge, as it inevitably will. The more often you use the models, the quicker you will get at recovering from an unexpected problem.
The models are taken from “Stressbusters” by Robert Holden, and “Holistic Counselling in Practice” by Dr Jim Byrne, if you want to know more about the origins of the models.
And if you want to learn a range of such models, you can also consult me for coaching/counselling in the area of problem solving and decision making, using thinking skills: including the Skilled Helper model from Gerard Egan.