Coaching Case Study By Handan Ascioglu Ozel
(Life Coach – Empowering Women, Expat & Intercultural Coach, NLP Coach, ITALY)
Who are the main players in this case study (you can use fake names to protect anonymity)
The client, an expat mother, who left her corporate career mainly due to husband`s assignment abroad. She feels a lack of emotional connection with her husband.
Her husband has a busy and stressful job. He loves his family and likes to spend time with the kids but his mind is mostly busy to give attention.
They both used to like to go out, meet with people and travel. But now Anna finds these rather stressful with 2 babies.
She also expressed that sometimes she can get stressed that the babies does not have a good appetite, eve the older one (3,5yr old) still wants to be fed and takes a lot of time to finish her plate and when they are out with car she mostly gets car sick and if she vomits Anna feels even more stressed that all the effort of feeding her is wasted.
What is the core problem or challenge you applied your coaching skills to? Really dig into this problem, use these questions as a guide:
- Why is it a problem?
- How long has it been a problem?
- What is the worst thing about this problem?
- Why has no one been able to solve it so far?
Anna feels unappreciated, not recognized, not valued, not loved.
In return she behaves negative, replies her husband`s questions in a reactive way.. mostly considers his suggestions
The main problem seems as the emotional disconnection between Anna and her husband. However there seems to also be an underlying challenge that Anna seeks appreciation from outside especially from her husband.
The worst thing is that this challenge becomes a A self-fulfilling prophecy. The more Anna thinks is is not loved, not valued, not appreciated by her husband few things happen She looses trust to herself that she is valuable. She reacts to her husband blaming him with his weak areas, which creates tension and he reacts as well and the cycle goes on. The more she reacts and blames him the more she focuses on his weaknesses/failures instead of his strengths/positive attitudes and the more negative feelings she has for him it gets just easier to see more negative things and she reacts more and he reacts more and she feels less loved and she doubts herself more.
What specific coaching skills or approach did you use in this case?
I have used active listening and powerful questions, to raise awareness about the positive intent she and her husband have, and the underlying beliefs and judgements that blocked her to see her husband`s positive intent. I used the power tools to show that when she reacts instead of responding she also even clashes with her own intent. We have also explored trust vs doubt about his love and her own respect vs invalidation of herself. For exploring options we have looked at commitment vs trying to have a happy marriage, responsibility vs blame in managing the house/kid care. Finally I supported her to create actions that align with her values about marriage, family, self value and feeling loved.
Explain your process in detail
NLP: I asked Anna what are the 3 things that “she appreciates” in her husband (not the general good things about him but what she appreciates, she finds valuable, she feels good, she values it when she sees those things in his husband), specifically about their relationship.
5 Languages of Love*: I`ve explained her about this theory that we all feel loved and influenced most when spoken to in our own love language (1.Gift Giving / 2.Quality Time / 3.Physical Touch / 4.Words of Affirmation / 5.Acts of Service) I asked her what she thinks her and his languages of love is, and I mentioned that there is a simple online test if she would like to take.
*As per the book 5 Languages of Love by Gary Chapman and website www.5lovelanguages.com/
NLP with Love Languages: Regarding valuing his actions, feeling loved from his actions I asked her the previous question what are the 3 things that “she appreciates” in her husband, considering their love languages, challenging her to be more conscious about the moments she feels loved. (not the moments he expresses love in his language but she does not considers special to be impressed)
Her initial thought on the first question were about the nice things he does but not necessarily so special for her that she directly feels loved:
(She says he is loyal, but adds as this is something that should be so, not something specially to appreciate, or feel specially good about.
She also mentions, he buys flowers, whenever he travels, but because he has extra time in the airport and the flowershop in the airport is on his way, he does not pay special attention/time to plan/think something special for her.
He intends to help with the kids and even preparing the table/salad etc.. but again she adds that how in the end he creates more issues as he can not concentrate on the help he is doing because his mind is so busy.. )
After explaining about the 5 languages of love and asking her permission to make an observation, I reflect back as “so for these things you see what he intents to do but you either do not consider those special or you consider the result as non-helpful. What do you feel about this”
She replies; “I realize I can not focus on his positive intent, but look for what else he could have done, or I can not focus on his effort to help, and I ignore his stress/tiredness, (which is the reason why he misses things he misses while is tying to help), instead I got nervous and react to the things he misses.”
“Maybe he shows his love in his own love language but I am not able to feel it because that is not my language”
In between session she takes the 5 Love Languages test and shares her scores (highest score being 12): 10>Physical Touch / 9>Words of Affirmation / 7>Quality Time / 3>Acts of Service / 1>Receiving Gifts
And she notes that she expected her husband to have higher scores for Acts of Service & Gifts. She wrote as she is looking for a good moment to ask her husband to take the test as well (as he is normally not much interested in these topics and these weeks may not be the best as he is very stressed about the future of his job) but she notes she did the test thinking what he might have answered and thus the scores possibly can be expected from him are: 10>Acts of Service / 7>Quality Time / 6>Receiving Gifts / 5>Words of Affirmation / 2>Physical Touch
Then when I re-ask the question highlighting about the moments/things she feels his love, she answers as:
He is physically attracted to her
She adds that although he does not hug, cuddle, kiss her as much as she wants, but when she has more direct teasers he responds positively, and she concludes that in the moments she feels less loved she waits for him to come and hug/cuddle which she realizes now that is just not his thing but that does not mean that he does not love her. She adds that in those moments she almost consciously avoids him, not going to the living room, as normally they always watch TV sitting next to each other just side by side in the sofa, or even cuddling. She adds that in few recent moments when she felt a little sensitive about other things instead of waiting for him to cuddle, when she sit next to him in the sofa, or when she snuggled to him in the bed even when he is reading his iPad he has responded back by cuddling her.
> She says she will use the opportunities to be physically next to him and she will be giving the physical attention that she would like to receive as this way she will get the physical response she sought to feel loved
When she asks him to help, he mostly accepts it
And she adds sometimes pushing him to help when he does not have the energy creates a negative cycle, as she can also manage the kids quite well when he is not at home
She mentions she can be less demanding of his help, so he can have more energy for quality time, which is more important for her and probably for him as well
When she asks to go to an event together he mostly accepts it
And she add that similar to the previous one, sometimes they go to an event together, but especially if it is an event she has chosen / with a group of people she knows better, than he may not enjoy it much and they would be missing the opportunity of 1 to 1 quality time in few of his free evenings. She realizes that she blames him of not paying attention to her in the dinner as he checks her phone or she has the dis-empowering judgement that he wants to watch TV but not necessarily to be with her, whereas she can also take more responsibility to create 1 to 1 quality time,
She notes she will carefully select the events when they go out, and will have more conscious effort to have 1 to 1 quality time either at home by organising the schedule of the kids to sleep earlier or by arranging 1 to 1 date nights or simple cinema nights in advance
What were the results of your process? Was your coaching/program effective? Why? Why not?
The client started to appreciate more the positive intent in her husband`s behavior, took more responsibility to create 1 to 1 quality time that she sees as their common love language.
As a result she felt better in her relationship, having more enjoyable time with her husband, thus feeling more connected with him. She expresses it as she does not necessarily have many more moment where she feels much more loved but she has less moment when she feels not loved, not valued. She notes this as already a big step to remove what hurts, so she can work on replacing it with self-love
In the end the coaching was effective for the relationship as we focused on the 5 languages of love, however we couldnt work much on the self-love
If you could approach this problem again, what would you do differently?
I would have handled the self-love topic in parallel with the relationship topic.
What are the top 3 things you learnt from this experience?
Listening, and listening even when the client is pausing to think
Trusting the coaching process and the resourcefulness of the client
Structure to break down the problem and prioritize the sub-level issues, helps focusing on 1 goal in each session, and referring back to the same structure supports to achieve the bigger goal for the coaching relationship.
(PS: The client have been asked if some brief info about her case and the coaching process can be shared within ICA, without using her name, and she responded as “You can share all the details, including the intimate details about my relationship with my husband, as it was the major breakthrough for me to be able to talk and explore that openly, go deep into how I felt with every aspect of the relationship, has helped me understand my assumptions, judgments and values and play around them which probably have saved my marriage. I think the difference was in those details that I discovered with your questions, so if your course taught you the ways to be able listen and ask in this way I will only be glad to contribute to your studies and my coaching being studied by others as an example case”. Thus with this permission I decided to study her case looking back again and writing some details of the conversations we had and before publishing this document has been shared with her and she gave her approval to publish as “You have represented what happened with this coaching that I do not only approve you to publish it but I urge you to publish it”)