Coaching Case Study By Sibel Benmayor
(Special Needs Families Coach, UNITED STATES)
Who are the main players in this case study
Sky is a 47 years old woman. She is newly divorced and has 2 daughters. She moved to the US 18 years ago from her home country.
What is the core problem or challenge you applied your coaching skills to?
Sky who is recently divorced lives with her two daughters who are 11 and 7; she enjoys being a homemaker, dedicates her time to her daughter’s activities and volunteers in their school.
Soon after coming to the US to visit her brother who was studying here, Sky met her husband and settled in. She then had her daughters and never worked outside her home. Besides volunteering in her daughter’s schools, she cooks, does Pilates and spends time with her friends until her daughter’s school day is over. In the afternoons she dedicates all her time to her daughters.
Sky is recently having some financial issues and thinks she will have to work to sort them out.
Sky’s main source of income was from her real estate investments in her home country. Her father had passed away a long time ago and she inherited a couple of real estates. Her mother and her two brothers, who live there, manage those properties and send her share. These funds helped Sky and her husband throughout their entire marriage, as her husband’s income was not enough to support the family. Sky and her husband have divorced amicably 2 years ago and Sky gets little child support.
She believes that the income she is receiving from her home country will keep on decreasing as there is a huge financial crisis there, the value of her home country’s currency has dropped significantly and the big construction project they were planning is now suspended due to their financial situation.
The idea of having to work for financial reasons is like a nightmare for Sky. She is very much stressed about it. She currently is not ready to work full time, believes it will be hard for her to leave her daughters. She has not worked for over 12 years and is not looking forward to it.
When I spoke to Sky I was able to understand that she enjoyed the fact that she was managing her time but she could understand the implications of the current situation in her future. She is a clever, funny and talented young woman who is not ready to face the new challenge in her life.
What specific coaching skills or approach did you use in this case?
Sky and I started our session by identifying the issue. The coaching agreement took some time as she changed her initial goal after talking about it for a while.
We then worked on reframing her perspective and did an exercise. This helped Sky and she has decided that she should look into herself and think what would make her happy.
I tried to ask her questions to understand whether she had any underlying beliefs about work and leaving her kids but we couldn’t go deeper in that session.
I did use visualization, which helped her tremendously. She started to think about how her life would be in a couple of years both from the financial standpoint and her daughters growing up. This was a reflective exercise for her and she said my life will change and it will also be very empty compared to how it is now. Her awareness was changed with this exercise.
Explain your process in detail
The session has started by talking about the flow of a coaching session and I explained her the process. I then talked about confidentiality. We had had a discovery session a week earlier, so the conversation was in a comfortable pace and Sky opened up quickly.
I did ask Sky what she would like to concentrate on during our session and she told me that she would like to talk about the fact that she will have to work. Her goal was to understand whether she wanted to work and see what her options were.
I did ask her what would be a good outcome for her, and for this she said that if it was up to her she loved the way her life was evolving and she doesn’t really want to work unless she has to; on the other hand the reality is different and she said she needed to take some actions. For that reason, the best outcome would be to discuss the options. At this point, I did invite her to review the session goal and she decided that the initial goal was not the one she would like to move forward with. Sky changed the goal of the session and decided to concentrate on her job options.
We then talked about her vision about her life when her daughters will not be living at home anymore. Sky said that until the divorce and the financial crisis she never thought about it much as her life was on a steady track. The idea of thinking and reflecting about her life in 10 years struck her a lot. She told me about her mother’s life after losing her husband and she also thought about the lives of her aunts. Her decision was: “The way they live is not how I see myself in the future.”
We talked about the things she likes to do, what would be interesting and what wouldn’t be interesting to do as a job. She loves Pilates and cooking but doesn’t want to work in those areas. She said she might work in a school. Sky then told me about a conversation with a friend of hers who is working as a teacher and she expressed that she would be interested in working in a school as a substitute teacher.
She had some questions about the responsibilities of a substitute teacher and as I have personal experience in this area, I did explain to her the difference between a paraprofessional and substitute teacher.
This information turned out to be useful for her. I did also send her a couple of informative links after the session per her request.
She also talked about the steps of applying for a job; she made a plan to talk to her friend and ask her contacts for the application. She recently started to work on her resume; she believes she has not much to put in. She has decided to meet with the husband of another friend to get her to resume up to date.
At this point, we were approaching at the end of our session and I did ask her how I could support her in the process. She did ask me to check on her in a week or two.
When I asked her about the takeaway she told me about the power of the visualization. She said this was a very powerful exercise and an eye-opener for her.
What were the results of your process? Was your coaching/program effective? Why? Why not?
The session was effective but this particular client is torn between the reality of her current situation and what she really wants. There may be various things, which are holding this client back and she is delaying her actions. The process is very slow.
I believe if we have a chance to do a couple of more sessions and if she is willing to move forward she can benefit a lot from coaching. I believe that we should have scheduled the following session right after the end of the session.
If you could approach this problem again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely use the wheel of life and maybe work on a strength assessment. I believe in her case these would be very beneficial.
What are the top 3 things you learnt from this experience?
Peer coaching is very useful for us to practice coaching but when we go out and work people who don’t know much about what coaching is, what is the role of the coaches, how coaching sessions work and the expectations of the clients we need to be very well prepared during the discovery and even the first session. This was good learning for me, as she was one of my first clients outside of ICA.
I also practised with Sky one of the challenges I am facing. It is about how to help my client without leading. As part of my current job, I refrain from making comments, and in this case, I experienced that it is very useful for a client to hear about the experience of someone else who is not giving advice or guiding.
I had personal experience in the school system she was thinking to apply for work at and shared with her my knowledge and a couple of resources I already had.
I also experienced the power of the visualization. This was an eye opener for the client. On the other hand, I also think that visualization,(or other tools we use depending on the context of the case) is not enough for the client to work on the goal. Combining a couple of different tools would be very useful for the client. For the tool/s to be effective we need to do at least a couple of sessions as clients think and reflect between sessions. One of my errors was not to schedule the following session with her. We did talk and saw each other in social settings I didn’t want to talk about planning a session and I am waiting for her to get back to me.