As I prepare.

As you might know, in just a few days, I’ll commence my program in narrative coaching. Exciting times. In preparation for this, I’ve been tasked with addressing a series of interesting questions such as the following:

Which assumptions, habits, stories or outdated practices could you let go of in order to free yourself to work more powerfully as a coach?

The first thing that I need to let go of is the assumption that I have all the answers.

No longer am I the legal ‘expert’ imparting advice to my clients.

Fair enough.

But I also suspect that next thing that I need to let go of is the assumption that my coaching clients have all the answers. It would be great if they did, but the reality is that they probably don’t although together, we’re meant to come up with something workable.

The third thing that I need to let go of is the assumption that there is some tried and true, ‘follow the numbers’ coaching methodology that will produce satisfactory results every time. Again, it would be great if there were such a thing but there isn’t although I suspect some would disagree  because there are lots of catchy phrases and acronyms floating about in the profession.

th.jpegMy conclusions, to be fair, are based on limited experience. During my first residential week at Cambridge last autumn, we watched a live demonstration given by a very experienced coach working with the T-GROW model.

Quickly, the ‘client’ (volunteer from class) identified that he was having a career crisis (TOPIC). He needed help to make a choice between three very different options (GOAL).

Naturally, the coach explored whether more than three possibilities (OPTIONS) might exist, but the ‘client’ was adamant; he’d already given much thought to this so all that was required now was to evaluate the options and pick one (WRAP-UP). When he’d done just that, he seemed visibly relieved although he acknowledged there were downsides to his choice.

Just before Christmas we all got an email from that ‘client’ (volunteer from our class) saying that in the end, he’d pursued a completely different option. He didn’t explain why and because as the result of his choice he will no longer be on the program, we’re probably never going to find out.

Now, I can imagine a whole host of reasons why things would change for the ‘client’ over a period of a couple of months. That isn’t my problem. My problem is that the live demonstration we watched as coaching students was so slick, so slam-dunk, that it was so tempting to assume this model was the neatest thing since sliced bread. It might still be but I now have my doubts and so I’ll go into my  narrative coaching program a little more wary.


3 responses to “As I prepare.”

  1. As a psycoptherapist I would say your clients certainly do have their answers, they just cannot see them yet, and it may take a few sessions before the way becomes clear. You may see the answers before they do, but I would say it’s your job to facilitate their own realisations rather than handing it to them on a plate. There would be no learning in it for them in that regard.

    1. Hi Suzanne – thanks for visiting and reading my blog – and of course you’re right in that clients do have their own answers not the least because they are in charge of their own lives and any decisions taken regarding their lives must be theirs and theirs alone.

      This, however, is where the problem is – at least in my limited and humble experience. I may not have been a coach for long (indeed, I’m truly still only a student) but I have studied psychological astrology for many years (Liz Greene and her London-based CPA in the days when they still had a degree program). If it is one thing that I learned from that is that most clients live only a small portion of their charts (or potential) – some choose to farm parts out to others (you know that as projection) whilst others are adamant that they are only what they choose to identify with and ignore the rest.

      True, if a certain part of the chart is not being lived, then it is still exists only in potential, but it is still part of their answer – because it is in a very real sense part of them – however quite likely will never get in touch with it. Therefore, although they do have answers, they don’t have the whole answer and so their choices will never be all that they otherwise might be.

      Thanks again, Debra

      1. Hi Debra,
        I would say it’s the portion of their charts which you say they are not living where the answers and growth are. That is where your facilitation must come from, and it’s sometimes like walking on a tightrope to enable a client to not only see it but also act on it. This I would say is where your skill set will enable you to find a way forward for your clients, and sometimes it’s to do with a gut feeling rather than seeing the logic in a situation. You may also think you have failed at times but conversely you may also find that a remark said in passing may have a profound effect totally out of proportion to whatever you were discussing. These things tend to percolate down into the psyche where they maturate and pop up at a later date. That’s the joy of it really. The most innocuous conversations can have enormous life changing effects. I think this is a very exciting and innovating approach you are taking and I wish you all the success,


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