You are a Coach / Counselor!! So, what makes you a REALLY GOOD ONE??    

Really good coaches (and counselors) assure their clients (especially organizational buyers of coaching) that they have a quality assurance process in place; their work is based on the latest evidence based practice; and that they are committed to the protection of their clients’ interests. Working with a specially trained and experienced supervisor is one way to ensure this. Engaging in an ongoing supervisory relationship gives you this competitive edge.

     So what does a coach or counselor get in supervision? As we all know, our work can get to be a very lonesome journey. So, the first thing you get is a relationship (the supervisory alliance) with someone who knows the journey you are on, and can relate to the things that (i) you, (ii) your client, (iii) you and your client together, are going through. You get to discuss issues around these three entities with someone who brings in – not only a different perspective – but also additional knowledge and skills.

An effective supervisor enhances your own critical understanding by the process of inquiry; and s/he can give you feedback on blind spots because s/he knows your strengths and areas of struggle. ‘Supervision monitors and ensures competency in client care, and contributes to the education and training’ of the coach or counselor.

Most importantly, the supervisor dramatically increases your just-in-time learning by tailoring learning strategies and tools to suit your needs. Supervision gives you the structure and framework for learning how to apply knowledge, theory, and skills to your client situations. All these aspects translate directly into benefits – not only for you – but also for your client. And, your competitive edge lies in letting your prospective clients know this!

A critical – often overlooked or ignored – role that the supervisor plays is to keep you ethically grounded. Therefore, in your relationship with your client, your supervisor will alert (perhaps guard?) you against boundary crossings and boundary violations, engaging in multiple relationships, being alert against the dangers of physical intimacy with a client, and every other principle or standard of the Ethics Code. And before one forgets, part of the ethics code is to work with respect and sensitivity with diversity (race, culture, gender, sexual orientation…) in all its facets. This is a safeguard for you, and most importantly, for your client. Once again, sharing this with them gives you a competitive edge as a coach/counselor.

Your own development as a coach/counselor is based on your personal values and strengths. Your supervisor is your strongest supporter in your own development. S/he will continue to acknowledge, validate and affirm you (through your screw-ups), and will provide feedback that leverages your strengths. One way this happens is through the self-reflection and self-inquiry that is integral to the time and space dedicated to the supervision meeting.

     So, who would be an effective supervisor? Does one go and get any other senior coach/counselor to be one’s supervisor? Perhaps that’s better than nothing! But it is certainly not an effective option. In addition to the experience and expertise of being a good coach or counselor, supervisors have received additional training and practice that enables them to supervise the work of another professional. The aims of the supervision process itself are different from coaching or counseling therefore the training, approach, and learning strategies in supervision need to be tailored accordingly. In short, a supervisor is NOT just another super coach/counselor.

Trained supervisors are able to reference client situations through the lens of an appropriate theory or framework. The supervisor is able to draw insights from these frameworks to facilitate critical thinking. Therefore, an effective supervisor must be heavily invested in his/her own learning and development. If they are not adding value to themselves, what will they add to your own growth? 

Furthermore, an effective supervisor must be alert to identifying parallel process in the coach/counselor and coachee/counselee relationship, and also between the supervisee and supervisor. Not only must the supervisor be able to spot it, but draw on its learning value for the coach/counselor at different levels. Parallel process refers to the playing out of unresolved issues or ways of managing relationships that percolate from one dyad to another. For example, the hostility by a client towards the coach/counselor can be in turn be reflected as a parallel process in the hostility that the coach/counselor brings to the supervisor. There is much to learn when this parallel process is identified and discussed. The same happens with the process of transference and counter-transference. A trained and effective supervisor will know how to deal with these aspects of the supervision process.

In conclusion, good coaches and counselors understand the benefits of working with a supervisor on an on-going basis; and they are able to leverage this relationship, not only to benefit their clients, but also to present it as a competitive edge. And, it truly is!

Take your own professional journey to the next level by working with trained and experienced supervisors. Set up a complimentary chemistry check/supervision session. Email for details – ajayglobalcoach@gmail.com. More details on supervision on our website www.globalcoachtrust.org.

 

 

 

References:

 

Casebook for clinical supervision: A competency-based approach. Editors: C. A. Falender & E. P. Shafranske. 2008. American Psychological Association.

 

Clinical supervision: A competency-based approach. By C. A. Falender & E. P. Shafranske, 2004, American Psychological Association.

 

 

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Development of Insight in a Helping Relationship

(In this series I use the terms coach, counselor, therapist synonymously. This is to create an ease of reading and to reach a wider audience; I do appreciate that there are differences within each profession. To create a common bridge I use the term helper to denote a coach, counselor, therapist, social worker and so on; and the word client to include patient or counselee. All quotes belong to Carl Rogers. Carl Rogers’s approach is known as Person Centered Therapy (PCT) and I retain this name while holding that its tenets are equally applicable to coaching, counseling, teaching, social work and so on. )

The essential question that Carl Rogers asks in the development of insight for a client is “How may this individual come to an effective understanding of him(her)self?”

He explains insight as the “understanding of self”.

It has the following elements:

(i) accepting one’s impulses and attitudes – good, bad or previously repressed;

(ii) understanding the pattern of one’s behavior and seeing its connections and consequences

(iii) looking at a new reality based on a fresh understanding and acceptance of oneself

(iv) planning new or more adaptive behaviors and actions to cope with reality.

When client issues are not too deep rooted, insights can come quickly; in other cases insights are “more involved, and the achievement of them is a more gradual process”. Facilitating client insight occurs best when the process is non-directive, as in PCT, with the helper “reflecting, in an understanding fashion, the attitudes and feelings expressed”. As helpers we need to let go our responsibility and effort to bring about insight because “the understanding of self springs from the client, not from the counselor”. This is a statement that most of us will probably struggle to accept! Yet, this is a crucial part of our own journey towards maturity as helpers.

Explaining how insight comes about, Rogers states that it often follows after negative emotions have been poured out, and the client has given voice to his/her hostility, self-criticism, and hopelessness. But this happens only if the helper’s responses are of simple acceptance of these outpourings without interpretation, persuasion or any other directive statement.

As the client gains insight, his/her self-concept is reorganized and the person sees the self in more positive terms. This can lead to the presenting problem or issue dropping out of the conversation! It can also lead to newer action plans or behavior change. Insight formation is especially critical in the closing part of any helping conversation.

Rogers asks the question that is in our minds now, “Under what circumstances is this spontaneous insight most likely to be achieved?” Based on his experience and research, he provides the answer: spontaneous insight is facilitated when the client is free from the need of being defensive; when he or she can talk through problems in an atmosphere of being genuinely understood and accepted, and in which there is no need for him/her to protect the self.

This seems to be the ethos and therapeutic approach for a mature helper! One of the things that I’m realizing is that while it is easy to agree, it’s much more difficult to put it in practice – with each client! Trusting that the client is resourceful is hard! Letting go – and letting be is even harder for us helpers!

What insights have YOU had lately? Connect with us on ajayglobalcoach@gmail.com if you’d like coaching or coaching supervision for yourself!

Reference: Rogers, C. (circa 1940s). The development of insight in a counseling relationship. In D. Webb (Ed.), Psychology Classics: http://www.allabout-psychology.com.

 

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Maturing as a Coach: How Carl Rogers can help us!

(In this series I use the terms coach, counselor, therapist synonymously. This is to create an ease of reading and to reach a wider audience; I do appreciate that there are differences within each profession. To create a common bridge I use the term helper to denote a coach, counselor, therapist, social worker and so on; and the word client to include patient or counselee. All quotes belong to Carl Rogers. Carl Rogers’s approach is known as Person Centered Therapy (PCT) and I retain this name while proposing that its tenets are equally applicable to coaching, counseling, teaching, social work and so on. )

For Rogers the nature of the relationship between the helper and client is pivotal to the success of therapy. According to him, the role of the helper is not to diagnose the issue that the client is grappling with and then provide tools and input to manage the treatment; it is essentially to create an atmosphere between the two, which is “permeated by warmth, understanding, safety from any type of attack – no matter how trivial, and basic acceptance of the person” as he or she is. This atmosphere leads the client to drop his/her natural defensiveness, open up, and communicate at a deeper level.

PCT sounds easy at the surface level and many of us feel that we practice it in our work with clients. However, in essence it is very difficult because it means that the helper has to let go reliance on his/her knowledge, skills, professional training, expertise to create change for the client. The helper must believe that the client has the “constructive strengths” to make the “constructive push” that is needed to move ahead. The helper has to be willing to accept this completely and therefore adapt the therapeutic process to reflect this change of ownership.

For us as helpers, letting go of this control and the need to share our insights and action plans is the destination we learn to move towards. Rogers affirms that “within the client reside constructive forces whose strength and uniformity have been either entirely unrecognized or grossly underestimated”. Therefore, for the relationship to be successful, the helper must have a “clearcut and disciplined reliance upon those forces within the client”.

Rather than focus on particular techniques or tools, the helper using a PCT must internalize its ethos and principles. Use these principles as a self-assessment to see how closely your practice (not your beliefs!) aligns to each principle.

(i) The helper must believe that the client “is basically responsible for him/herself, and is willing for the client to keep that responsibility.

(ii) The “client has a strong drive to become mature, socially adjusted, independent, productive, and relies on this force – not on his own powers – for therapeutic change”.

(iii) The helper creates a “warm and permissive atmosphere” in which the client can bring out any attitudes or feelings no matter how unconventional or contradictory these attitudes may be.

(iv) The helper accepts the client unconditionally, with neither approval nor disapproval. This is demonstrated by “sensitive reflection and clarification of the client’s attitudes”.

How did you do on the self-assessment above? Reviewing my own recent client conversations, I’ve found that I’m quite inadequate on nearly all of these principles. I trust you’ve done better!

Next articles focus on: Carl Rogers’s and the development of insight; and the therapeutic process.

Connect with us on ajayglobalcoach@gmail.com if you’d like coaching or coaching supervision for yourself!

References: Rogers, C. (1946). Significant aspects of client-centered therapy. In D. Webb (Ed.), Psychology Classics: http://www.all-about-psychology. com.

 

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The FOUR Critical Times We need Support

There are four critical times in our lives when we often need support. Unfortunately, we don’t recognize these periods, or are not sure where to turn to for support, or have too much of an ego to reach out for help. This is true for us as individuals, coaches or counselors. It is not only true for us but also for the people we are close to – and our clients! These four high-risk periods are:

(i) When there is an interpersonal LOSS – A loss is not only the death of a loved one – though this is possibly the most difficult and traumatic episode in a person’s life. There are types of losses that are not so overt: losing one’s job, relocating to a new place and losing one’s old friends, family and environment; loss of health (this can include being diagnosed with diabetes or cancer); loss of a friend or romantic partner, divorce and so on.

(ii) When there is an interpersonal ROLE DISPUTE – This happens when two people have different expectations of their relationship and of the role each should play. Typical scenarios include that between a husband and wife, team members, boss and subordinate, parent and child (and I don’t mean a little child – I mean a 35 year old child and his/her 65 year old parent) and so on.

(iii) When there is an interpersonal ROLE TRANSITION – Major life changes bring about transitions that we are seldom well prepared for. This could include getting married (or now increasingly, getting divorced), the birth of a child, getting a promotion (or being left behind), starting a new business or career, moving to a new location or job and so on.

(iv) When there is an interpersonal DEFICIT – These could be areas where one is extremely shy, or unassertive, or socially awkward, or lacks confidence. This impacts both one’s personal and professional life spaces.

While some of these situations are harder to manage than others, in nearly all cases we could cope with them more effectively if we had someone to lean on. This might be a close friend, a trusted family member, a coach or a counselor. This trusted resource would help us in understanding and sharing our feelings; encourage us to reach out to our network of family, friends or colleagues; see that we not withdraw into social isolation; push us to have those difficult conversations; and help us heal in the ways we need to. The advantage we have when we reach out to a trained coach or counselor is that they know how best to support us in each situation.

For example, in times of loss, the coach/counselor would help with the grief process, deal with feelings of anger, and encourage forgiveness where appropriate.

In role disputes, the coach might help with conflict resolution, teach coping skills, or provide support to make the best of a difficult situation.

In role transitions, the coach might allay the feeling of being overwhelmed, help develop supportive networks, and teach new skills.

With deficits, the coach could point out blind spots, explore more adaptive behaviors, and teach relevant skills.

The danger for us is that these four transitions – if not handled effectively – are high risk for causing emotional and psychological distress. It can even impact one’s health! Why take this risk when one can reach out for support? So, support your friend or colleague to reach out for help – or reach out for yourself!

If someone you know is going through any of these four critical situations and would like some support through the transition, please feel free to connect with us at ajayglobalcoach@gmail.com.

References: Comer, R. J. (2015). Abnormal Psychology (9th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sharpening the Saw for Coaches – A Plan for 2016!

All coaches (or others in similar helping professions such as counselors) want to be successful as they support their clients. However, not many have an ongoing program to continually sharpen their edge. Here are a few ideas that can help inform one’s ongoing preparedness for effective for client work. (This is my checklist and development plan for 2016!)

     (i) Increase personal skill inventory – A coach’s personal skill inventory is sum of one’s knowledge, skills, experiences, emotional competencies and so on. There is a risk that a coach’s learning begins and ends with the coach training! Surely, this is not enough! Effectiveness in client work requires that we have a planned program for increasing personal skill inventory. This could mean attending training or certification in related domains, taking a course on iTunes University or Coursera.org, reading books and journals, increasing the variety of clients one works with, engaging in supervision and so on. These efforts enhance the personal database of the coach.

The personal database is the wealth of information that a coach has about his or her area of expertise, what works or does not work with a client, the risks associated with a particular client work, the influence of organization dynamics, the social context and so on. One of our blind spots is that we nearly always believe that our personal skill inventory is greater than our actual skill inventory; this can lead us to saying yes to work that may be too challenging or problematic for us. Let us remember that what we do for our clients is limited by how much we invest in raising our own lid!

(ii) Develop a strong social network – Given the confidential and personal nature of a coach’s work, falling into social isolation is a big risk. Therefore, develop a healthy social network by belonging to professional associations, supervision groups and peer groups. In addition to emotional support, one can get tips, access to resources, information on new developments, advice on cases and so much more. A strong social network (personal and professional) is also a system of protection against taking on too much work or the wrong type of work; it helps deal with professional stress and compassion fatigue; finally, it is also a source of feedback and encouragement that is often missing for solo practitioners.

Unfortunately, many of us do not do this because our pride gets in the way! Often, we don’t like to ask for help or be seen as needing support. Perhaps, we don’t like to share what we know; we believe that one’s insights or perspectives may not be good enough. Whatever the reason, the biggest loss is for the coach who isolates him/herself from meaningful, learning oriented relationships. Not doing so has the risk of professional narcissism or self-deception: I believe that I’m better than others! I’m doing great work already! I have so many years of experience!…

(iii) Spend time on self-reflection – Those of us who are just starting the journey spend too much time worrying about business development. Or, we question whether we’re good enough to work with a particular client. On the other hand, seasoned coaches are caught up in client issues. Wherever one is on the journey, making time for self-reflection is a critical component for success. We don’t do it because – well – what’s there to self-reflect on?

     Here are some starting points: What are the areas that I really need to think about at this point in my life? Who can be my sounding board? How are my needs and aspirations today different from what they were 5/10 years ago? What am I looking forward to in the next 5 years? How does what I do each day align with what I want for my future? What can help me get better, or do a better job? What do I really need to give up? What about my personal wellness?

I’m sure that you will have another element that can help us all have an effective plan for ongoing self-development as people and professionals. Please feel free to add to this list so that each of us can commit to becoming the best we can – in service of our clients!

Please feel free to connect with us on ajayglobalcoach@gmail.com for any support that you might need to help you on your journey!

Reference: Knapp, S. J., Younggren, J. N., VandeCreek, L. D., Harris, E., & Martin, J. N. (2013). Assessing and managing risk in psychological practice: An individualized approach

 

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Yoga se Kya Hoga?

Getting older is a natural part of life. Not only do we get older, but often we have older parents or elders to care for. We all want good health and a quality of life for ourselves, and for the elders in our care. However, the pressure of modern day life and work takes its toll on our health, especially 40s onwards (if not earlier!).

Look at any working group photo on social sites such as LinkedIn – Observe how many in any group seem to be physically fit!?? (What about if you were in the picture? Is there a tummy to hide?)

Most current work and lifestyle essentially involves long hours of sitting, a lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits. This can lead to issues such as muscular shortening, tightening and weakening; osteoporosis; joint deterioration; loss of flexibility; lack of balance, and so on. In addition, our sedentary lifestyle plays a large part in conditions such as type II diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, increased body fat, low back pain, breathing difficulties, vision problems, chronic pain, inability to sleep and so on. These issues are compounded and get more complex as one gets into the 50’s and 60’s. It can lead to associated risks such as falling, greater injury when one falls, slower recovery, medical complications and so on.

This is not what we want for the best years of our life or for the life of our loved ones! Yoga – especially designed for adults and older adults can help!

Yoga is especially suited to work with adults and older people, especially those who’ve not had an active exercise program as part of their lifestyle. It is a wellness journey that incorporates exercises (asanas) that are especially designed to work with the whole body, mind and spirit. The synergy that comes with integrating body, mind and spirit (using the breath) sets it apart from any other physical exercise program – especially because of its focus on the health of the spine! The many general and specific health benefits of practicing yoga are currently validated by contemporary scientific research.

Research points to a few of the benefits:

  • Getting better quality of sleep, including reducing the time it takes to fall asleep
  • Improvement in hand grip strength in those with arthritis
  • Better control of type II diabetes and pulmonary function
  • Decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Helps offset middle-age weight gain
  • Improved mood and reduced anxiety levels
  • Aids those suffering with chronic pain
  • Alleviates breathing difficulties for bronchial asthmatics

Before rushing off to the nearest glamorous yoga studio please understand that working with adults requires the yoga teacher to be sensitive to age-related physical changes. Adults commonly grapple with stiffness, back and neck pain, weak knees, weak spine, and often lower muscular strength. In addition medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, osteoporosis and so on need to be kept in mind. Therefore, the sequence of poses (asanas), intensity and pace of the class are slower with much emphasis on correct alignment and safety. In addition, individual needs and conditions needs are taken into account by modifying the asanas to easier versions and the use of props. The length of time an asana is held is reduced till the practitioner’s strength improves.

Often, many ‘yoga’ studios ignore these principles because of commercial reasons. So look for a yoga center that is sensitive to your age and needs! Check out the batch size, age profile of the students, and especially the teacher! Generic classes led by young teachers tend to become intense functional body workouts that are far from the ethos of yoga, and may not suit your needs. In essence, look for a center that caters to smaller batches and works with older adults, or hire a personal teacher who can customize a program for you. This is possibly the best investment you can make for yourself (or your loved ones) to close this year and start the new one!

If you’d like to make your wellness a priority, and would like to work with a wellness coach, then email me at ajayglobalcoach@gmail.com.

References:

Inspiration and data from http://www.seniorfitness.net/YOGA.html

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/teach/yoga-for-boomers-and-beyond/Yo

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Minimizing Digital Addiction for our Children (and Ourselves) (Part 3)

In the first two parts of this series, we looked at how children (and us?) are getting addicted to digital devices. To conclude this series, we look at some ways to wean children and families away from this addiction and its dangerous consequences. You don’t serve drugs on your dining table, so why let digital devices (which is a behavioural addiction) enter your child’s life and take control?

Children (and adults) who are addicted to their devices are at risk because of the nature of the highly stimulating games and programs that are part of video gaming. Often graphically violent, or sexual in nature, video games trigger high levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. The intensity of the games  lead to high levels of stimulation that quickly turn to agitation, and an inability to be still and quiet. That is why young children – without a device – will shout, “I’m bored!!” A single teacher in a classroom is no match for this high level stimulation; hence, kids are not able to pay attention in class. Perhaps that’s why they can’t engage in a conversation with you either! Studies show that children’s brains are under-developing in areas that have to do with self-control and emotional regulation; therefore, the need to move back to some slower media, and moderation in usage of digital devices.

Wonder why some children often seem hostile, isolated, refusing to engage with parents, siblings, and other children? Watching violent digital images over time is related to soft forms of relational violence, which includes bullying, tough behavior, sarcasm and lying. So, don’t let digital devices take the central part of your child’s life or become their best friend (or yours for that matter!). Encourage children to play with other forms of less intensely stimulating games such as scrabble, carom board, and other board games. Keep these games open on the dining table, where all family members can play an ongoing game or start spontaneously.

Many parents think of their child’s digital device as an educational tool. While this is true, it should not become the only media used. Remember books? Reading hard copy books reduces the blue-light exposure from devices, and fosters a pace of reading that encourages reflection and learning to focus. Many of us start with reading a book on a device, and then in a few seconds surf to something else on Internet. Encourage children to read books (not digital copies) and if need be, have special reading time slots.

     Discourage use of devices where screens are not in view of all members! Children are getting hooked onto porn at younger and younger ages. It’s not a question of if your children will get exposed; it’s only a matter of when. Porn filters are of not much help, because they will have a friend who will share it with them on their device. Have conversations around the dangers of porn and how they can avoid getting hooked on to it. Don’t provide 24/7 Wi-Fi access to children!

     Play dates and sleepovers should be device free – plan lots of non-digital fun things to do! Restrict Wi-Fi access in the nighttime or do not allow devices to be carried into children’s bedroom.

     Have family time in which no devices (not even yours!) are permitted. Many families today sit around together – each with their own device or ear buds. Children will imitate the relationship they see you have with your own digital device, so incorporate times when you are device free! Walks, talks, reading, meals, board game time are great opportunities for device free time. Encourage time slots where there is no need for constant stimulation (and this includes listening to music continually via ear buds). This continual stimulation is dramatically reducing children’s (and ours) ability to focus and regulate emotions.

Instant gratification is part of the digital world (how about your instant online shopping binges?) and it’s reducing children’s ability to deal life events where things don’t go their own way immediately. Learn to say NO to them (and to yourself) – buy time between request and fulfilment. Don’t say yes out of guilt, social pressure or clever manipulation. (First learn to say NO to your own need for instant gratification…)

     Go out for a meal without anyone carrying a device! Surely, you’d have done this when you were younger – you survived! So, why do you believe that NOW you will collapse in two hours without your device?

I’m not suggesting that children should be technology illiterates, nor that devices are completely useless and of no value. That’s not true. It’s just that as parents, the balance has skewed completely. Moderation is called for not addiction. But, remember that children will mirror you! So, if you want to reduce digital addiction for your children, you will need to start working on your own addiction first.

If you feel that you / your family is already in trouble on this, perhaps some coaching might help. Feel free to connect with us on ajayglobalcoach@gmail.com and start your journey to recovery from digital addiction.

Reference:   Notes taken from Master Class Lecture by Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee on ‘Therapy in an age of Digital Attachment’, given on 3/20/15 at California Southern University, School of Behavioral Studies.

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