A Coaching Model By Ute Hauck, Career Coach, AUSTRALIA
Applying the STRETCH MODEL© in Coaching Expands Clients’ Thinking and Facilitates a Growth Mindset
As a client entering into a coaching partnership often requires convincing internal and/or external stimuli, as well as the courage to finally book a session.
Some clients are uncertain about which topic to address and might feel pressured to fulfil a perceived expectation from their coach. Others may feel reluctant to share potentially vulnerable information during the session.
The STRETCH model supports a client in entering into a safe, client-centered partnership with their coach. An open, non-judgmental approach fosters a trusting relationship that provides clients with the opportunity to openly share whatever is relevant to them in their current situation without being judged. It also allows ‘client growth’ by expanding their views beyond learned thinking and/or decision-making patterns. Each step of the process is a milestone in achieving a sustainable outcome.
The coaching model STRETCH enables clients to reach their full potential. STRETCH in a figurative sense can be thought of as an expanding of the mind and body into previously unfamiliar territory, epitomising the idea that there are no limits to growth. The definition of STRETCH by Merriam Webster as “amplify beyond natural limits” and by The Dictionary as “extend oneself” substantiates this notion.1,2 STRETCH in the current literature has also been associated with physiological changes such as improved cerebral blood flow and reduced stress according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.3
In essence, the STRETCH coaching model expands one’s thinking and facilitates a growth mindset.
By reiterating confidentiality at the beginning of the session, the coach reassures the client that coaching provides a safe space, where no information will be shared with a third party.
The coach will overcome initial client hesitations to SHARE their topic by asking an open question in a non-judgmental manner followed by a pause which allows the client to debrief about any underlying reason for their visit.
Should the client still be uncertain of what or how to share, the coach might want to reiterate that it sometimes can be challenging to find words for what they would like to talk about and that just saying what is on their mind without overthinking is perfectly fine. The starting point of the coaching conversation will set the tone for the entire session. Therefore, trust, space, and empathy are crucial to creating rapport.
The coach enables the client to TRANSLATE their thoughts into a focus for the session by helping them organise their thoughts around the central issue they want to address or resolve.
The coach’s expertise goes beyond simply structuring their client’s thought processes by helping them identify potential underlying issues that they might not have even been aware of. In partnership with the client the coach will explore the session goal and identify the desired key takeaways. Supporting the client to define their session goal requires both probing questions and potential clarifications to ensure that both the coach and the client partner efficiently to achieve the best outcome for the client.
Translating thoughts into an understandable ‘new language’ for the client is the first step to personal growth by becoming aware of a ‘common message’ of what appeared unrelated.
Once the goal and its importance for the client have been established, the coach engages the client into a REFLECTIVE process by asking powerful, thought-provoking questions that trigger the client to dig deeper into potential underlying beliefs and attitudes and evoke awareness about a fixed mindset.
The coach’s questions require simplicity regarding to content and length, yet sophistication in tailoring them to clients’ responses to move the client forward. The process can be challenging for the client as it involves being fully present and trusting the process to address what might have been long hidden inside.
During the EXPLORATION phase, the coach guides the client to relate the realisations gained during the reflection back to the session goal. This process might be accompanied by a ‘light-bulb’ moment where the client suddenly observes a shift in their thought process.
Through this process, the client gains new perspectives on their issue, problem, or challenge. New insights are created by exploring different angles of a situation, allowing for challenges to become opportunities for growth.
The coach safely guides the client through this powerful part of the session, taking care not to ‘lead’ the client, but to respectfully acknowledge the shift.
TAILORING the required next steps is essential to transforming the newly gained perspective into a solid action plan.
The coach supports the client in identifying realistic and measurable steps to implement their new awareness to achieve the desired outcome. The client takes ownership of their planned actions, and the coach ensures the robustness of the action plan by enquiring about necessary support structures and ways the client will hold themselves accountable.
The power of the coach’s facilitation lies in helping the client identify ‘doable’ action steps that support the client rather than overburden them. ‘Baby steps’ might be preferable initially rather than trying to fit every possible step into the action plan. Follow-up sessions will allow the client to revisit the action steps and their execution. The goal is to empower the client to achieve their outcome via action steps by taking ownership.
During this crucial phase of the session, the coach encourages the client to reflect on the awareness/new perspective gained and identify their learning about the topic.
To further CONSOLIDATE this learning into an acquired skill/behaviour applicable to similar situations in the future, the coach supports the client in identifying what they learned about themselves in this session and how they can use this learning in other areas of their lives.
This consolidation of their learning leads to a sustainable outcome for the client, empowering them to feel confident to deal with the current issue and well prepared to face future challenges.
HEIGHTEN AND HONOUR
At the conclusion of the session, the client is equipped with new perspectives which they have identified throughout the session under the guidance of the coach.
The client has expanded their thinking beyond anything perceived possible before the session. The client can now celebrate significant personal growth resulting from powerful prompting questions by their coach.
What appeared to be a challenge has turned into an opportunity for personal growth – stretching the client’s mind to new ways of thinking.
The action steps consolidated into a robust action plan will support the client to HONOUR this growth and empower them to strive for more, knowing that nothing limits them to STRETCH their thinking.
- [Internet]. 2022 [cited 8 March 2022]. Available from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stretch
- Definition of stretch | Dictionary.com [Internet]. www.dictionary.com. 2022 [cited 8 March 2022]. Available from: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/stretch
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons - AAOS [Internet]. Aaos.org. 2022 [cited 8 March 2022]. Available from: https://www.aaos.org/Default.aspx?ssopc=