October historically is a very momentous month for me personally. A couple of examples- it was in October that I began working for hospice in New York City and what followed were some of the greatest and most rewarding years of my life to date. It was also in the month of October that one of my closest friends died.
Coincidentally, if there is such a thing, we are having Aurora Winter our 1st grief Master Coach on the MMC tele-class series this month-October. So in keeping with the October theme, I have decided to share a bit of the research paper I wrote back in 2009 as a part of my coaching graduation requirement. It was titled Dying to Live: Can “death and dying” enlighten and inspire a coaching practice?
The section I’m posting here has to do with change and loss (death) and how coaches might handle and utilize these inevitable periods to be of the greatest service to their clients.
So here it is...
Transformation coach Alan Seale says that in order to manifest, anything in our life, change is inevitable and one must find ways to make peace with it (2008 p. 60).
As such, transition coaching is an inherent challenge found within every niche. It is important that coaches understand that every change has its own full and natural process and is likely to include fear and other strong emotions. The client is not as well served if the coach is not open and alert to this. For example if the coach is too focused on forward movement, on the goal versus the process and or is fearful of emotions and opening Pandora’s Box, the client’s growth and lasting attainment may be greatly impeded.
For many years business consultant William Bridges (1991) has helped organizations and individuals successfully make necessary and difficult changes.
The following are some of the required components found in chapter 3 of his book:
• In order to facilitate a successful transition one must begin by not looking to the outcome but envisioning the ending that will be necessary in order to leave the old reality and identity behind. “Nothing so undermines organizational change as the failure to think through who will have to let go of what when change occurs” (p. 4).
• Just as the terminally ill go through various stages of letting go in order to come to acceptance so do others going through their transitional process. It is vital that these stages be anticipated, accepted and sympathetically acknowledged. Also that the client be allowed even encouraged to talk about what they are feeling. Oftentimes the fear is that this will only stir things up but Bridges reports that a great deal of research has proven that if people can talk about their losses they heal and move on much faster.
• It is important not to rush the process or pretend that it is easy, in fact discussing what is difficult about it and what can be done is very beneficial.
• Finally, just as coaches want to celebrate a client’s gain, it can be equally important to mark an ending, to help them find a way to honor the loss. The same way a funeral or memorial honors the loss of a loved one.
It is Bridges experience that one cannot begin to move forward successfully and obtain the desired results without doing these things. It is also his belief that it doesn’t take a psychology degree to effectively assist a client through transition.
What it does take first and foremost is awareness and a willingness to go there as well as a level of comfort with emotions, which is a required skill for a coach (ICF, Code of Ethics, 2009).
Life coach and author Dave Ellis (2006) believes that when a client is able to experience and release emotion, this is one of the great benefits of coaching. “Whatever we fully experience disappears”… “Our genius is often blocked by unexpressed emotions”(p. 140). But when they are released the client becomes “more capable of solving their own problems” (p.141).
Bridges, W. (1991). Managing transitions, making the most of changes. New York, NY: Harpers Collins Publishers.
Ellis, D. (2006). Life coaching; a manual for helping professionals. Bethel, CT: Crown House Publishing.
ICF (2009) The ICF code of ethics, International Coach Federation, 2009, http://www.coachfederation.org/about_icf/ethics-&-regulations/icf-code-ofethics/
Seale, A. (2008). The Manifestation Wheel. LLC: San Francisco, CA: Red Wheel/Weiser