Wellbeing Coaching explained…

Let’s talk about the coaching phenomenon.

Personal / Business / Executive / Life / High-Performance… there’s an endless array of coaching out there, often for a very good reason.  Perhaps it helps to make coaching more accessible to different demographics, or perhaps it creates trust and feelings of empathy between coach and client.  Yet, coaching in the purest sense of the word doesn’t require the coach to possess industry knowledge, or even understand the issues shared by the client in any great detail.

First and foremost, coaching is about attentive listening.

Now, I understand the irony completely.

In one sentence I share with you that coaching is about attentive listening, and not about specific knowledge or experience from the coach; and in another, I’m about to explain why I offer (and truly believe in) wellbeing coaching.  Let me explain…

Coaching isn’t about giving solutions or fixing people – because it starts with the understanding that people aren’t broken; they just might need a little support, perhaps a gentle nudge towards becoming unstuck in an area of their life currently causing them stress or difficulties.

But sometimes, particular stresses and difficulties can be too hard to verbalise initially.  Clients can feel limited in what they can share, often as a result of stigma in society.  Stress, anxiety and feelings of low mood are often avoided in conversations because people don’t want to feel judged by others.  They already feel not good enough, or even unable to cope – and so it can be difficult to share these feelings with family, friends or colleagues.

Let me be clear for a second…

Coaches do not diagnose.  Wellbeing Coaching is not a replacement for counselling or therapy.  Instead, wellbeing coaching provides listening, space to think, encouragement and support, to help clients feel a little calmer, and in control.

Wellbeing Coaching

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did.  But people will never forget how you made them feel”

– Maya Angelou

Understanding the key principles of ‘secure bases’ and forming bonds by using dialogue in addressing conflict or pain points, has been a huge influence on both my personal and professional life.  I owe a debt of gratitude to George Kohlrieser, psychologist, hostage negotiator and professor of leadership at IMD, and highly recommend his books ‘Hostage at the table’ and ‘Care to dare’.

Forming a bond with a client and becoming a secure base, gives subconscious permission for them to share their painful thoughts and feelings.  This creates both trust and empathy; key components of establishing psychological safety.

 

Mental-Health-Toll

For many, the stress and significant change experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic continue to impact their lives today.  A number of my coaching clients will mention the pandemic regularly, as one of the factors contributing to their current feelings.  Factors around this include:

– A change in personal priorities

– Returning to office-based roles, increasing stressful commutes once again

– Challenges around leading and managing others who want flexible working as their norm

During the pandemic, I was asked by MHFA England to volunteer for the crisis text service Shout, and with my background in mental health training, it felt like a worthwhile use of my skill set.  If I’m really honest with you here, I anticipated volunteering for a few months to complete my minimum number of expected hours; and yet here we are almost 3 years later and I’m still very active on the Shout platform.

Regularly supporting people with their difficult feelings; anxieties, feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts – allows me to practice what I preach in my MHFA training courses, as well as in my coaching programmes.  It also allows me to fine-tune my own communication skills in forming bonds with people effectively.  Volunteering for Shout has been a significant influence in my life also, and something I will always continue to do moving forward.

On reflection, I guess what I’m saying is that there is a place within coaching for particular skills, experience and knowledge from the coach.  Providing the focus is always on creating time and space for a client to think, and not giving solutions per se but offering psychological safety and trust, through demonstrating empathy and understanding.

For more information on any of my Wellbeing Coaching programmes, please click here

Matt is a certified personal & business coach with the ICF, with a background in mental health training within the L&D sector.  Matt utilises this specialism to provide wellbeing coaching to clients; helping them to understand the stressors in their lives, and the impact these have both at home and work.  Matt also volunteers as a crisis counsellor for Shout UK, a service for anybody experiencing poor mental health and wellbeing.

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