A Coaching Model Created by Michael Lewis
(Mental Wellness/Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
Moving Through is a process model for coaching having three phases: attention, awareness, and action. While presented in order, these often overlap and get revisited several times throughout the coaching session. “Authentic” is added to emphasize what is true for the client from their perspective. This requires rigorous honesty, trust, and presence. Anything that gets in the way of the quality of the relationship must be addressed to move forward.
The model is shown on a movie reel as a reminder that just like all great movies and storylines, the protagonist (the client in this case) is the main character in their own story and every problem is one of the trials they overcome to play their role as the hero in the journey.
Phase 1: Authentic Attention
The client comes with a problem or opportunity that is an obstacle in their path. They know all the details. The main objective of authentic attention is to redefine the problem so that it moves the client forward. What the client initially presents is not what they usually focus on with more exploration.
At the start, the client may be reacting to their problem as an Overfunctionertrying to go over the problem. They may be taking on too much responsibility, actively trying to control the situation, running the risk of overpowering others, and possibly facing burnout and frustration.
The client may be reacting as an Underfunctionertrying to go under the problem. They may see themselves as the victim of circumstance ora persecutor making their life difficult, giving away their power, using passivity as a means of control and placing blame, and possibly feeling resentment or disconnected.
Hearing this, the coach pays attention but listens more to answer two important questions:
- Why is this person telling me this?
- What’s making this a problem for this person?
The answers focus the coach’s attention not just on what is the problem, but more importantly on who the client is being about the problem.
The coach acts as an impartial observer of the big picture not entangled by the details while remaining engaged, empathetic, and fully present. It is important to keep in mind that people can find their solutions and humans by nature are creative, resourceful, and whole.
The coach helps the client to see themselves as active participants in their own life seeking a balanced way to address the problem or opportunity using their power of intent to forge a hero’s path forward. The coach uses questions to help the client define what will be a desirable outcome from the session. This begins the hopeful mindset: there are solutions, we are going to get there but it’s going to take some work on your part.
Phase 2: Authentic Awareness
Authentic awareness refers to self-awareness. Regardless of the amount of awareness the client brings, the coach engages in a way that increases the client’s self-awareness.
In this phase, six domains can be explored depending upon the presenting problem. The first three are part of the client’s immediate experience. The last three are deeper automation created by the client based upon their previous learning and experiences.
Following a cognitive-behavioral model, the coach explores a client’s thoughts by asking open-ended “what” questions. Similarly, the coach asks about feelings and behaviors or actions a client has taken about the problem. The client has not had control over the circumstances surrounding their problem. However, they have self-generated thoughts, igniting feelings, and motivations, leading to behaviors that have produced their results. This chain reaction and the interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are key to understanding how people can get the results they want in that they are the only three things people ultimately have control over.
The brain organizes patterns and memories of thinking, feeling, and behaving so not much effort has to be exerted when similar or the same decisions are presented. This deeper automation makes up the other three domains including mindset, motivators, and habits.
The mindset organizes thoughts into beliefs, attitudes, worldview, and biases. Motivators are emotionally charged automation including purpose, meaning, intent, values, mood, and very basically the seeking of pleasure and aversion to pain. Habits are efficient patterns of behavior involving a cue, routine, and reward.
Deeper automation is malleable but hard to change. Unless previously examined, a client may have little awareness of their influence over their decisions. They can work in the background to undermine a client’s ability to create a life and make choices that truly reflect their authentic nature. By asking questions and making observations, the coach assists clients to know this automation and opens an opportunity to change what no longer serves the client. The coach also instills hope that change is not only possible but also probable with greater self-awareness.
There is a seventh domain that supersedes all the others and goes by many names. Some call it the soul or energy behind all that makes us what we are. A client does not have to espouse a certain set of beliefs to recognize that there is a part of them that sits separate, watches, and creates. This observer seeks the highest good not only for us but also for those around us and sometimes for the entire world. It is where inspiration comes into play. A coach does a client disservice to ignore this part. However, a coach cannot force or even question this presence into awareness. At best, a coach can hold space for it and then honor and support it. Awareness at this level can bring about deep transformation leading to a life of true greatness and ultimate satisfaction with power that comes not from achievement but rather from purpose and wisdom.
After increasing self-awareness, the client often makes a “flip” which is an opening to a new understanding making way to choose authentic action. The coach rounds out the awareness phase asking the client for their learning about themselves and how they might carry that forward. This is key to the client self-replicating the moving through the process in the future.
Phase 3: Authentic Action
In the authentic action phase, the coach challenges the client to create and choose possible solutions, weigh options, develop implementation intentions including when, where, and with what supports to make an action plan. The coach questions what could get in the way and what can overcome those barriers. The coach asks how the client wants to build in accountability to increase they’re follow through and how they will reward themselves or celebrate when they succeed at implementing their plan.
The successful result of a single session and an entire coaching relationship will provide three things that will carry a client forward in their lives. First, they will have a framework for a detailed plan that increases the probability of success and at the very least learning, second, a deeper understanding of themselves through increased self-awareness, and third, an experience of how to move through situations that can be applied to future problems reflecting authentically who they are or intend to become. Celebrating and acknowledging these results is important to cementing the benefit of moving through the process. Moving through even just one problem instills hope that the client is quite capable of generating this process again in the future.
A Shift in Being: The Art and Practices of Deep Transformational Coaching by Leon Vanderpol
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Co-Active Coaching by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, Laura Whitworth
Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others by James Flaherty
Emotional Agility by Susan David
The HeART of Laser-Focused Coaching by Marion Franklin
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
Murray Bowen (1931-1990) work on family systems theory
Stephen Karpman (1968) for the Drama Triangle