REFLECTIONS ON COACHING STYLES AND STRUCTURE
There are many,many different styles and schools of coaching and I am enjoying reading and learning about all of them.
As a coach following the ICF credentials path I am struck how narrow the ICF approach is. I realise the reality is ICF offer a great structure and standards from which a coach and develop their own style and blend of approaches, interventions and resources, and that initial structure necessarily needs to be simple for the novice. What I find interesting is talking to people at more advanced levels of PCC and MCC who effectively dumb-down their coaching and constrain their approach for the purposes of ICF credentials.
Many of the peple work with as Supervisors , Mentors or Colleagues have deep expertise in a variety of areas include clinical psychology, psychotherapy, neuroscience which I believe have lots of tools, templates, techniques, training and teachings that I think would be useful to Coaching.
COACHING AND THERAPY
Take for example Imago therapy. Imago therapy, or Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT) is a specific style of relationship therapy designed to help conflict within relationships become opportunities for healing and growth. The term imago is Latin for “image” and, within IRT, refers to an “unconscious image of familiar love.”
Or Family Therapy. Family therapy is a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. Family therapy is usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker or licensed therapist.20 Sep 2017
By virtue on the word Therapy in the title this is out-of-bounds for coaches. Coaching is not Therapy. ICF are clear on this and offer guidance “New ICF Resource Helps Coaches Understand When and How to Refer Clients to Therapy” Indicators include  Marked changes in mood such as irritability, anger, anxiety, or sadness  Decline in performance at work or school  Withdrawal from social relationships and activities  Changes in weight and appearance, including negligence of personal hygiene  Disturbances in sleep (either oversleeping or difficulty falling or staying asleep)  Expresses hopelessness or suicidal thoughts
Clearly there is a need to refer to a specialist if you believe someone may be in imminent danger of self-harm or hurting another person. But every-day joy, sadness, anger, frustration and anxiety is part of the human condition, not mental illness. As such I believe there is scope to support people who are going through a tough time, and if necessary making a referral if the circumstances suggest that is what is best.
Taking this balanced, but vigilant approach, means that there is scope within coaching to use some concepts from Therapy.
I won’t expand on Imago Therapy here, but I am interested in this and Systems Thinking and Family Therapy because relationships, understanding them and making the best of them is a key part of life, whether at home, in hobbies or at work.
COACHING SCOPE IN CONTEXT
In coaching it is important to understand the Person, Role and System
You should consider;
The clients personality;
The clients life story;
The clients skills, competencies, abilities and talents;
Their aspirations, progression and future aim;
Their workplace and environment in which they perform;
Their current organisational role.
This may therefore include coaching, teaching, mentoring and consulting in different measures according to the needs and desires of the client. This however ostensibly strays from the ICF narrow path where Coaching is not mentoring (sharing experience) or training (sharing knowlege) or consulting (asking questions) or teaching (offering resources). It seems to me that what ever benefits the client is worthwhile and provided the emphasis is on the client needs or aims this is OK provided provoking awareness does not becomes telling them what to do.
Executive Coaching Systems-Psychodynamic Perspective by Brunning, Halina
Necessarily a lot of ICF coaching for assessment purposes seems to be formulaic 30 minutes of GROW and a speedy attempt to demonstrate all the ICF Core Competencies
The GOAL is the end point, where the client wants to be. The goal has to be defined in such a way that it is very clear to the client when they have achieved it.
The current REALITY is where the client is now. What are the issues, the challenges, how far are they away from their goal?
There will be OBSTACLES stopping the client getting from where they are now to where they want to go. If there were no Obstacles the client would already have reached their goal.
The options then need to be converted into action steps which will take the client to their goal. These are the WAY FORWARD.
Competency 1: Demonstrates Ethical Practice
Competency 2: Embodies a Coaching Mindset
Competency 3: Establishes and Maintains Agreements
Competency 4. Cultivates Trust and Safety
Competency 5. Maintains Presence
Competency 6. Listens Actively
Competency 7. Evokes Awareness
Competency 8: Facilitates Clientgrowth
The problem it seems to me is that in reality it is hard to support complex difficult change in 30 minutes, and if the change that the client is seeking is not in some way complex or difficult then they are unlikely to need a coach! I honestly feel that for real-life problems coaching can take an hour, and sometimes a series of sessions each building on the next. There is plenty of scope for progress and breakthroughs without the necessity for a eureka moment at 29 minutes. Coaching is not a process with a half-time score or a penalty shoot out at the end!
Despite the limitations of ICF Coaching style and structure there is much to commend it. My criticism is only possible because there is a style and structure to comment upon. Without this there would be chaos and indeed a lot of coaching in the world today is unqualified chaos. The ICF is keen to remedy this an I applaud and support that effort. I believe the ICF Core Competencies provide a good foundation and the ICF Code Of Ethics are a minimum standard.
The challenges for me, and others on the ACC, PCC, MCC path is to build upon these foundations rather than see them as the goal.
My Blog Adapt Coaching
My ICF Reading (I have read more since and welcome suggestions)
A small selection of my Coaching Conversations (which I need to update!)
ThinkingFeelingBeing.com – Philosophy, Psychology, Coaching and practical solutions for everyday Life, Work, Home and Purpose
ICF Core Competencies
Introducing The ICF Team Coaching Competencies
ICF Code Of Ethics