A Coaching Power Tool created by Donna Barnes
(Loss and Healing Coaching, UNITED STATES)
Learning to be with your uncomfortable emotions allows your heart to open and create space- to figure it out, to develop self-compassion and empathy for wherever your path takes you. Holly Woods, PhD
There is no magical power tool that will work at all times. However, there may be one tool that is the “hammer” in your tool kit….even though all situations will not be a nail. This hammer should be used when trying to create a significant change for your client. There has to be a major shift throughout your sessions. It could take one session or several sessions. If nothing changes than you and your client are just having a series of conversations.
As you experience more clients – you will use many other tools. This tool is good for many purposes – mainly Loss and Grief. It can also be used for any type behavior that is destructive and not being realized, such as substance abuse, or having a doctor diagnose you with a mental disorder, or having a child being described to you by an outsider as problematic that throws you into a defense mode. One can be in denial about anything that threatens your sense of control. Other reasons for denial can be financial problems, job difficulties, relationship conflicts and the death of a loved one.
In general the five stages of grief when you have suffered a major loss are:
- Bargaining & Regret
Some clients will experience these stages in varying orders, time, and intensity. Some of the stages never occur at all. When grief occurs, the common factor is change and this change equates to a loss…a loss of something, a person, a house, a job. Any loss requires adjustment and this adjustment is when the grieving process sets in.
Denial can be a coping mechanism or a defense mechanism. It is a process that denies something in order to affirm something else. It alters the meaning of an event, incident or way of life in an effort to either cope or defend oneself. Being in denial gives your mind the opportunity to unconsciously absorb shocking or distressing information and adjust to it. In other words, denial can give an individual time to adjust to distressing situations with the hopes of eventually shifting to acceptance that gives you the ability to meet challenges in the given situation. This sometimes takes several weeks or months.
When we are in denial, it creates several benefits and as coaches we need to help our clients recognize some of these benefits so that they do not spend too much time in this stage. It would be irresponsible of us to simply work on changing the client’s perspective without realizing that every behavior has a positive function in some context and we need to help them identify this notion called secondary gain.
Some of the benefits can be the following:
- Develops excuses for avoiding obligations and responsibilities
- Lowers anxiety
- Reduces resentment towards others not dealing with a similar situation
- Keeps your self-esteem and self-worth in tact
- Minimizes stigma
Acceptance is when the meaning of the events or incidents that were being denied changes. The transformation or the new way of looking at things is accomplished. It is accomplished in a way that keeps everything in tact such as self-esteem, integrity, and worth; all the things that were trying to be protected through denial. Your clients should come to an understanding that acceptance can be empowering and is an opportunity for growth.