My Approach to Coaching
For me, coaching is all about working in partnership with a client to help them identify, explore and achieve their professional goals through the process of structured conversations. It is a professional development tool that can help you to resolve problems, explore new ideas and reflect upon real-life learning.
As a coach, my role is to observe, listen, ask questions and provide feedback to get you thinking, taking you through the coaching process and helping to provide structure to the conversation. I may be quite direct at times, holding up the mirror and challenging you to test your assumptions and identify what may be stopping you from achieving your goals. At other times, I may simply listen and reflect back what you are saying to help you identify your own solutions. We may also turn to some specific tools or methods to explore particular issues or goals you may face, such as the “life balance wheel”, which can help to provide visual clarity to your words or “the meta-mirror”, which can help you feel empathy for another person.
I am happy to work with clients in any walk of life or stage in their career and I tend to take a holistic approach to coaching, so as well as looking at your professional, work and career-related experiences, I may also suggest we explore personal values, life experiences and other non-work topics in order to see how this may apply to your professional goals. However, if you would prefer not to do this, that’s entirely up to you – we work to the client’s agenda.
Particular areas of interest for me in coaching are career transitions, work-life balance issues and imposter syndrome or fear of failure. Helping people navigate these difficult, but totally normal, professional challenges is one of the most rewarding things about being a coach.
When working with a client, I expect that person to come to the coaching session with an open mind, prepared to take risks and ready to be honest with both me and themselves. Whilst coaching works on your agenda, it is
difficult to unlock new learning if you are unable to express your worries or concerns. You will need to be committed to setting goals and making plans to work towards these. Between sessions you will likely spend time reflecting on our discussion and testing out your thinking by taking steps or actions to reach your goals. I will also expect you to give me feedback so we can work together to improve the coaching relationship and help me meet
your coaching needs.
I am currently working towards an ILM Level 7 Post-graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching. As part of my studies, I am working with a range of clients to build my practice and experience of handling different coaching issues. If you would like some free sessions in return for supporting me with my studies (by being recorded and providing feedback), I am currently looking for new clients.
Boundaries & Ethics in Coaching
Coaching is highly confidential and I would only break your confidence if I had a serious concern about potential harm (to yourself, me or others) or illegal actions. The coaching relationship is not a legally privileged one, so I
may be required to disclose information discussed in coaching if required to do so by law. If I ever felt you raised something of concern, I would flag this to you as part of the discussion.
Coaching is different to mentoring in that typically, a coach would not offer advice or guidance or share their own personal experiences. Instead, a coach simply helps an individual identify their own goals and solutions. It is also different to a therapeutic or counselling relationship, as a coach is not trying to “fix you” and is not typically qualified to provide support to someone experiencing significant mental distress. Whilst I am a qualified Mental Health First Aider with MHFA England, if during our sessions I become aware of any serious concerns about your mental health, I would normally refer you to other sources of advice or support and suggest we pause coaching until you are well enough to proceed.
Some techniques do overlap with other disciplines of psychology or forms of professional development and there may be times I could step outside of a strictly coaching role to offer advice or signpost you in the direction of other resources/people/support, where I have knowledge, experience or information that you seek. However, in most situations I want you to draw upon your own knowledge and resources, rather than rely on mine. In these circumstances, I would flag this to you at the time and you can choose whether you wish for me to proceed.
All coaches are expected to practice with supervision. A coaching supervisor is an experienced coach that can provide support and advice to the coach in dealing with difficult clients, managing their own emotions in coaching or improving their coaching practice. I may refer to things we have discussed in coaching in supervision sessions, but I would do so in a way that can protect your anonymity. Supervisors are also bound by the same expectations of confidentiality and what is discussed in supervision stays in supervision.
Virtual/Remote Coaching or Face-to-Face
Coaching can be conducted both virtually and face-to-face. Clients may have a preference for either form, but may wish to switch between modes to meet their own needs and availability.
Remote sessions can be delivered on your video call platform of choice or telephone. Zoom, MS Teams, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and Google Meet are all good options.
When covid-19 restrictions allow, I can also support face-to-face sessions in the Monmouthshire (South Wales) area (extending across the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean to Herefordshire and Gloucestershire as well).
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, all face-to-face coaching sessions will be ‘socially-distanced’ and ideally outside. For example, we can meet in my garden (Tintern, South Wales), if the weather allows, or for a gentle walking session somewhere locally in the great outdoors. Whilst walking may impact on our ability to build rapport in the same way as a traditional face-to-face coaching session (2 chairs and a box of tissues), there is evidence that suggests being in the natural environment and movement can improve thinking and learning, helping to support the coaching process.
Before we begin coaching, I recommend we have a short 30 minute chat to discuss my profile, logistics for coaching and your immediate coaching priorities. We call this the “chemistry chat”.
We may find at this stage that we do not think we can work together. That is absolutely fine – sometimes the coaching relationship just isn’t right or it might not be the right time for you to begin coaching. It is important that
you feel ready and able to commit towards working on your professional goals before we begin coaching.
I usually recommend we spend 90 minutes to 2 hours for the first session to give us enough time to establish a rapport and begin to explore your goals. The first session can often be less structured than other sessions whilst we try to identify your priorities and narrow down your professional goals.
We will also re-cap on boundaries and how we plan to work together as part of the ‘contracting’ process. At the end of the first session, we will talk about a plan for subsequent sessions.
Subsequent sessions may be longer or shorter than the initial session depending on your coaching agenda. Some people find more frequent shorter sessions helpful (e.g. 60 minutes), whereas others would prefer to work in-depth over a number of hours (e.g. half day).
It is normally best to have 2-4 weeks in between coaching sessions to give you time to act upon what we discuss, but we can decide what is appropriate depending on the goals you wish to work on.
You may find that one or two sessions is enough to get clarity and establish a plan for your professional goals, whereas other people can benefit from a more long-term relationship.
I need to record some coaching sessions for the benefit of my ILM L7 qualification.
If you are prepared to allow me to record a session, I will listen back to reflect on my own experience as a coach and I may also share this with my supervisor who will listen to the session, provide me with feedback and then delete the recording. They have no interest in what you have to say, but are instead looking at the way that I respond to your coaching needs and to check that I am practicing in line with my own coaching values, ethics and professional standards.
This may be audio recording or video and we can discuss the best way to do this at the time. I will usually use my mobile phone for this and then submit to my supervisor via email or Google Drive. You can always withdraw permission for a recording at any time.
I must also keep a record of sessions for each client in order to provide a log of practical coaching hours completed. This will detail name of client, number of sessions and duration of sessions.
Note Taking & Reflection Log
In addition to this, I keep a reflection log, where I write about what I’ve learned from my coaching and how I feel I may need to improve or change my practice in future. I may also keep private notes of our coaching discussions to aid my memory between sessions and help me spot any key themes over time. These are for my benefit only and will not be shared with anyone else. You may of course request to see what I’ve written about you at any time, as per current data protection regulations.
I recommend clients also keep their own notes and reflections of their coaching journey to refer back to between sessions. If we work with any particular tools or worksheets, you will be able to keep these for future reference.
If you are interested in working with me, ahead of the ‘Chemistry Chat’, it would be useful to get some high-level information from you about your own background and what you hope to achieve from coaching, as well as some logistical and contact information. If you get in touch to enquire about coaching, I’ll send you a ‘Client Profile’ form to complete capturing some of this basic information