A Coaching Model Created by Jennifer Elworthy Croughton
(Fertility Empowerment Coach, UNITED STATES)
Infertility is so often an upsetting and stressful time for women. Many suffer thoughts such as guilt, failure, lack of confidence, doubt, fear, loneliness, frustration, limiting beliefs about the capability of their body, not to mention a broken heart, and the sense of a lost future.
Another feeling that regularly comes up during this time is a lack of control. When a woman embarks on fertility treatment they hand their body and dreams over to science and medicine. While for many this is worthwhile, it often comes at an emotional cost.
During this period of uncertainty, I believe it’s possible to take control and move forward with a deeper awareness of oneself and a sense of positivity, possibly even gratitude. This belief comes from both my own experience of infertility during which I suffered multiple miscarriages, painful medical procedures, and intensive IVF treatment and from working with holistic fertility specialists (psychotherapists, acupuncturists, fertility massage therapists, hypnotherapists) who supported me. Working with them enabled me to figure out what I could control in the process and focus my attention on that. However, it took a long time as I was randomly seeking comfort and I didn’t have a clear sense of purpose. Eventually, I found comfort and empowerment in leaving the science and medical treatment to the doctors, and directing my efforts and attention to things that made me feel calm and connected to my body. If I’d had access to a fertility coach I believe they would have supported me to get to this discovery sooner and move me forward towards my goal in a considered and proactive way through greater empowerment.
The goal of my coaching practice is to support women to feel empowered during fertility treatment.
What is empowerment?
The dictionary defines empowerment as the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights’. Empowerment can take many forms, especially during fertility treatment. It may be that a client wants to know more about the science behind IVF or they want to leave the medicine to the doctors and focus solely on themselves. They may need to figure out ways to handle some of the painful procedures or address limiting beliefs about their body and their fertility, or perhaps focus on feeling positive and hopeful about a successful outcome.
The emPOWERment Model
The empowerment model sticks to the principles of coaching but will focus on empowerment through the use of the POWER acronym and the confident language I use. I will remain curious about each client, listen intently, reflect their language, and respect their unique needs and decisions, but will imbue a sense of possibility and choice – that despite everything there are things they can control and there is a comfort to be found in this when acted upon. Rather than get swallowed up by a potentially all-consuming fertility process, I believe the power lies within my client to choose how they respond to their situation and the treatment that may lie ahead. I will coach ‘from the scar, not the wound’. This means I will hold an empathetic, safe space for the client and not judge their situation against my own experience.
Here we explore the client’s current state.
- What is going on for you at the moment?
- What do you feel about this situation?
- What are your beliefs about your own fertility and the treatment you are about to start?
- What assumptions are you making?
- What else might it be possible to believe?
It is essential to set a clear and measurable goal for the session.
- What is your goal?
- What do you want to achieve?
- What is the positive opposite of your current position? How would you like to feel?
- What is in your control? What else?
- Why is this important to you? What’s the motivation behind your goal?
- What will feeling empowered give you that you currently lack?
- What impact will this have?
- How are your past experiences impacting current ones? How is this serving you? How else could you think about it? What would be most useful for you to believe?
- How would it feel to start acting like you believe that?
- What is the cost of not doing this?
This is the action planning stage.
- If you knew it was possible to feel like this what would you do?
- What can you do to help yourself believe that?
- What is holding you back? And what else?
- What do you need to address to resolve or change this?
- What actions do you need to take?
- What resources or information do you need?
- What support do you need? What can you do to secure this?
- What will you do to stay accountable and focused on your goal throughout your treatment?
- What actions do you need to take to shift the dial and move towards your objective?
- What can you do to channel your will power to achieve this?
- What might get in your way? How will you handle that?
The coach must listen to the client and ensure they feel heard and their emotions are validated while remaining focused on action.
- What positives can you find in your past experiences? And what else?
- What can you do to positively harness and channel your emotions?
- What would feeling your emotions rather than burying them give you?
- What do you need to resolve or address to do this?
- What can you do to stay accountable and focused during emotionally challenging times?
- What could trigger you to feel like they were losing control? What could you do about this?
A chance for the client to reflect on their learnings and plans.
- What have you learned about yourself?
- What are some ways you could use this in other areas of your life?
- What can you do to stay feeling empowered?
- What are you grateful for? How can this gratitude serve you?
This coaching model focuses on supporting the client to decide what it’s possible to control and what would help them feel empowered during fertility treatment—and address it in an actionable, positive, and potentially transformative way. I cannot, and will not, promise a positive result from any fertility treatment. But I do hope that using my coaching skills alongside the empathy I have for women experiencing infertility will help empower them at a time when they may feel everything is out of their control.