Process Coaching

As many of you know, I am going through professional coaching classes and certification through The Coaches Training Institute (CTI). CTI has the world’s most established coach training program and was the first coaching institute to be accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). I began its training program about three months ago. Aside from attending lectures and obtaining hands-on training in CTI’s classes, I have also started building my list of clients and coaching them. It has been a very fulfilling experience seeing my clients grow–in their careers, relationships, and life.

Last weekend, I attended the fourth in a series of five three-day long coaching seminars. Called “Process Coaching,” this particular seminar encourages the coach to focus on and explore the “moment.” This is important because we want our clients to enjoy the coaching journey and to deepen the learning. The prior two seminars, “Fulfillment” and “Balance,” mainly focused on moving the client forward in a more direct manner (Fulfillment empowered us to explore our clients’ values and motivations, while Balance provided tools to explore coaching issues from different perspectives–both of which are meant to help our clients make tangible progress).

During Process Coaching, we typically uncover deeper issues that may be blocking our client’s overall progress. For example, a client may be expressing disappointment over being passed over for a job promotion. As a coach, it is important to provide a safe environment for our clients to explore that emotion. Why is the client experiencing the disappointment (perhaps because the promotion was more important to him than he initially thought)? How deep is the disappointment? Is it going to impede him from performing his work? Is this feeling of failure controlling his life? What has the client learned from this experience? At the end of the coaching session, we will hold our clients accountable by asking him to confront what we uncovered during our coaching session in a tangible way. In this example, we may ask the client to confront his feeling of disappointment by viewing it as a learning experience through a set of exercises–so that he would have more capacity to deal with disappointment or loss in the future without being paralyzed.

No doubt, there is a sense of discomfort during Process Coaching as the client typically doesn’t want to explore such emotionally-charged issues that are blocking his progress. As a coach, it is our job to ask the client (gently but firmly) to help us go there–otherwise, the client’s life would simply be filled with avoidance. It also important that a coach does not judge and to be attentive/engaged with the client while he is going through this experience.

Common issues may include anger, disappointment, risk-taking, and intimacy. By far the most interesting segment during the seminar was when we–as coaches–were asked: “What areas in your life are hard for you to be with or explore?” We had to explore this question as coaches as these would precisely be areas where we would be reluctant to explore with our clients (and chances are, many of our clients would have the same avoidance issues that we have). This exploration exercise was illuminating. Many of us dug and discovered issues that surprised us. There was quite a bit of sobbing as well. The issue that was hard for me “to be with” was “not being seen for who I am” or essentially, people who stand in the way of my self-expression. It was an intense weekend, but one which shaped us to be more effective and compassionate coaches. I look forward to the final seminar, “Synergy” on December 9.

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