Research Paper By Dina Kourouvani
(Transformational Coach, GREECE)
Clients usually seek coaching to achieve something specific: e.g. figure out the next step, or achieve a goal they believe will fulfill their needs. Little do they know that with coaching they bought a ticket to so much more: the coaching process is conceived in a way to provide the client with a partner who’s positive regard can shine a light at any and every possible territory which the client is willing to allow, bring clarity, and inspire action.
Clients in the coaching process find many keys that can potentially unlock many doors of happiness.
In this paper, I am exploring the results of the ICF coaching process, as they are deriving from the application of the ICF Competencies. The conclusions are drawn from my experience and the feedback of my clients.
For this paper, I consider the client’s identified desired outcomes as the primary result of the coaching process, and all other results as the complementary results, the “hidden” gifts.
The fact that there are more results to be expected from coaching is implied in the ICF definition of coaching.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the professional body for coaches, which provides a regulatory framework for coaching and coach programs. In the definition sentence, ICF talks about the relationship of a coach and a client inside a process that is expected to inspire the client to extend the expectations and successes.
Specifically, ICF defines coaching as “a partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”.
So, the ICF coach intends to inspire the client through his/her behaviors and questions => not guide, tell, instruct, etc, for the client to maximize their potential =>to achieve more than expected, how?=> through a process which is densely described as “thought-provoking and creative”.
This process is defined in detail in the 11 core competencies a professional coach (PCC) is trained for and assessed through relevant indicators, the PCC Markers. The 11 ICF’s Core competencies are the backbone and foundation of each coaching conversation. They create a unique pathway that allows a coach to consistently deliver a process that is focused on each client’s agenda and desired outcomes. The ICF also determined a set of “related behaviors” for each competency: some examples of what the competencies look, sound, and feel like in practice throughout every coaching situation.
Hereunder follows the attempt to map the collateral benefits, the “hidden gifts” for the client. They follow the relevant ICF competency they are mapped to and appear in blue.
Coaching starts with knowing and respecting the ethical guidelines that surround the coaching relationship (competency 1 – the ICF code of ethics). This is intended to provide safety and inspire trust for the client.
Continuing, regarding the partnership, throughout the relationship and at each session the coach is a role model for the client, he/she needs to feel and show :
- “Respect for the client’s perceptions, learning style and personal being”. “genuine concern for the client’s welfare and future". “support for the client's new behaviors and actions including those involving risk-taking and fear of failure". “support for the client's new behaviors and actions including those involving risk-taking and fear of failure". (Competency 3- Establishing Trust and Intimacy) . "The coach invites the client to respond in any way to the coach’s contributions and accepts the client’s response"(Competency 4: Coaching presence) . “the coach is quiet and gives the client time to think” (Competency 5 - Active listening) “The coach allows the client to do most of the talking, the coach uses the client's language”(Competency 7- Direct communication). The coach genuinely cares for their clients and does not evaluate or judge their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors as good or bad. Each client is accepted and valued for who they are, as they are, without stipulation. Clients need not fear judgment or rejection from the coach. The client feels safe to express and builds self-confidence. The client has space and time to speak, feels valued, appreciated, it builds faith and self-worth. The client learns to allow time to speak for others. Their relationships are improved.
- “The coach asks permission to coach client insensitive new areas”. “Establishes clear agreements and keeps promises”. (Competency 3- Establishing Trust and Intimacy). These behaviors reinforce the feeling that the client is in control, there are respected boundaries, it feels safe to express thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and allows the client to build and learn to build trust and free expression.
- “The coach continuously demonstrates personal integrity, honesty, and sincerity”. (Competency 3- Establishing Trust and Intimacy) . “The coach shares observations, intuitions, comments, thoughts and feelings without any attachment to being right” (Competency 7- Direct Communication)These behaviors refer to the coach being real, authentic, and genuine with their client. This notion is similar to “congruence", one of the three principles in Carl Roger’s person-centric approach. It’s called congruence because of the inner experience and outward expression match. In being authentic, the coach shows he/she is trustworthy, which helps in building a creative relationship with the client. It also serves as a model for clients, encouraging them to be their true selves, expressing their thoughts and feelings, without any sort of false front. Rogers divided the self into two categories: the ideal self and the real self. The ideal self is the person that you would like to be; the real self is the person you are. Rogers focused on the idea that we need to achieve consistency between these two selves. We experience congruence when our thoughts about our real self and ideal self are very similar—in other words when our self-concept is accurate.
In each coaching session and coaching relationship is for the client to choose what they want to explore (competency 2 – Creating the Coaching Agreement). “The coach partners with the client supporting the client to choose what happens in the session” “..plays back the client’s expressed possibilities for the client to choose from”(competency 4 – Coaching Presence). The client feels in control of the process, develops confidence and self-reliance.
The coach asks questions to clearly define the scope, benefits, and holds on to the client’s desired outcome throughout the session, alert for any changes appearing from the client. This behavior makes the client feel trust and freedom because someone is anchoring the discussion to what the client chose. Again, the trust, which translates to self-confidence is re-enforced.
Right from the very beginning of the session and/or the relationship the coach actively listens and mirrors back to explore with the client and shine a light on all the territories the client finds relevant to their initial goal:
- “The coach explores the clients’ language, the emotions, the tone of voice, pace of speech, behaviors, how the client perceives the world” (Competency 5 - Active Listening). The client is invited to identify and name emotions, thoughts, behaviors, values, and therefore expands self-awareness.
- “the coach notices and explores energy shifts”, “acts in response to both the whole person and what the client wants to accomplish in the session” (competency 4 - Coaching Presence). The client imitates the coach’s curiosity and learns to observe. Develops self-awareness.
- “Coach is observant, empathetic and responsive”(competency 4 - Coaching Presence). The coach understands the client’s experience and feelings accurately and compassionately. The coach recognizes that each client’s experience is subjective and therefore strives to see things from the client’s unique perspective. The client experiences and learns empathy. An important part of empathetic understanding is for the coach to convey that they “get it” by reflecting the client’s experience to them. This encourages clients to become more reflective with themselves, which allows for a greater understanding of themselves. The client learns curiosity with compassion and grows in self-knowledge and awareness.
- “the coach allows the client to vent” (Competency 5-active listening). The client finds patience, understanding, he/she feels heard, and translates it to self-care. The client is “freed” first from intense emotions of blame, and can move to exploration and solutions. The client learns the value of empathy and can show it to self and others, so the client improves the relationship with the self and others.
When we keep trying without success to find solutions, achieve goals, change behaviors, make decisions, we can assume that there is something blocking, or something missing. It is critical to bring some light there to help us see clearly. Carl Jung the famous psychiatrist, had identified that we all have parts of ourselves that we don’t like, or that we think society won’t like, so we push those parts down into our unconscious psyches. He had named the collection of aspects of the personality that we choose to reject and repress “shadow”. Light always symbols awareness.
In the coaching session, the coach “asks questions to evoke discovery, explores and challenges the client’s assumptions, way of thinking, beliefs, wants, needs.” (Competency 6- Powerful Questioning). “identifies for the client the underlying concerns, typical and fixed ways of perceiving themselves and the world, differences between the facts and the interpretations, disparities between thoughts, feelings, and actions” identify major strengths…” “helps the client to see the different interrelated factors..”(Competency 8- Creating awareness) The client enters the temple of possibilities and expansion. They are learning about themselves. They grow in self-knowledge and self-awareness and they also learn an approach they can practice. Clarity can soothe negative feelings and allow optimism. Clarity empowers the client and teaches the client to seek it.
“The coach helps the client to discover for themselves new thoughts, beliefs, etc, that strengthen the ability to take action” “inspires commitment to shift the client’s viewpoints and find new possibilities for action”(Competency 8- Creating awareness). “…explore alternative ideas and solutions,…define actions,…challenges client’s assumptions to provoke new ideas and find new possibilities for action,…promotes Do IT Now and provides immediate support..” (Competency 9- Designing Actions). “… creates a plan with results that are attainable, measurable, specific, and have target dates..” (Competency 10- Planning and Goal Setting). “Requests of the client actions…” “…leaves the responsibility to take action to the client” (Competency 11- Managing Progress). The client is inspired to expand, create a new action, focus on actions, and results. This inspires creativity self-confidence, optimism, fresh starts. The client practices the results-oriented approach. This behavior creates energy and solution-focused thinking.
“…opportunities for ongoing learning…. Promotes active experimentation and self-discovery where the client applies what has been discussed and learned during sessions immediately afterward in the work/life” …define actions that will enable the client to demonstrate, practice and deepen new learning”(Competency 9- Designing Actions). “.. development goals and major areas for learning and development..” (Competency 10- Planning and Goal Setting). Awareness is expanded. Learning is promoted. The client learns to identify the learning, apply it to other areas, and start to evaluate situations as opportunities for learning. This empowers self-confidence and flexibility.
“Requests the client actions ” “stretches and challenges but also a comfortable pace of learning”(Competency 9- Designing Actions). “results that are attainable….make plan adjustments as warranted by changes in the situation” (Competency 10- Planning and Goal Setting) “open to adjusting behaviors and actions…” (Competency 11- Managing Progress).“develops the client’s ability to make decisions, address key concerns, get feedback, determine priorities set the pace of learning to reflect on and learn from experience” (Competency 11- Managing Progress). With this behavior, the client is educated in self-care and flexibility. Learns to observe the feelings and the environment and adjust their goals to their actual needs without judgment. The clients can distinguish self-discipline from a forced action, and effort that is serving them from the effort that seems an enormous burden because it is forced upon. Freedom, self-love, self-respect are empowered. The client can discover fun, link effort to the fun.
“Celebrates client successes and capabilities for future growth” (Competency 9- Designing Actions). “Identifies and targets early successes that are important to the client” (Competency 10 – Planning and Goal Setting) “Acknowledge the client for what they have done, not done, learned or become aware.” (Competency 11- Managing Progress). The client is educated to acknowledge successes and focuses on creating a positive and empowering mindset and structures in their environment. Appreciation and positivity are boosted. Self-confidence is empowered.
“… distinguish between trivial and significant issues, situational Vs recurring behaviors..” (Competency 8- Creating awareness) “… organizes and reviews with the client information obtained during sessions..” (Competency 11- Managing Progress). The client learns to evaluate and prioritize. This creates calmness and trains a result-oriented mindset.
“Demonstrates follow-through by asking the client about those actions that the client committed to during the previous sessions…” “keeps the client on track…” “promotes self-discipline and holds the client accountable…” (Competency 11- Managing Progress). The client feels supported. Commitment and results are secured. Self-confidence, self-reliability is enhanced.
- ICF Competencies
- The Professional Certified Coach (PCC) Markers
- Watson, J. C. (2002). Re-visioning empathy. In D. J. Cain (Ed.), Humanistic psychotherapies: Handbook of research and practice (pp. 445-471). American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
- Corey, Gerald. Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Belmont. Thomas Learning, Inc. 2005.
- Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams. Meeting the Shadow. A new Consciousness Reader, 1990
- A look at the creation of ICF core competencies http://icfheadquarters.blogspot.com/2012/06/look-at-creation-of-icf-core.html
- Coaching Research: who? what? where? when? why? P. Alex Linley, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK.
- How do we describe coaching? An exploratory development of a typology of coaching based on the accounts of UK-based practitioners. Peter Jackson
- Gegner 1997 Coaching: Theory and Practice
- What is ‘Coaching’? An Exploration of Conflicting Paradigms. Yossi Ives
- Toward a profession of coaching: Sixty-five years of progress and challenges for the future.
- Anthony M Grant Ph.D., Director: Coaching Psychology Unit, School of Psychology, University of Sydney Australia, NSW 2006
Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was an influential humanistic psychologist who developed a personality theory that emphasized the importance of the self-actualizing tendency in shaping human personalities. Rogers maintains that therapists must have three attributes to create a growth-promoting climate in which individuals can move forward and become capable of becoming their true self: (1) congruence (genuineness or realness), (2) unconditional positive regard (acceptance and caring), and (3) accurate empathic understanding (an ability to deeply grasp the subjective world of another person).
Carl Jung (1875 –1961)psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. Among the central concepts of analytical psychology is individuation—the lifelong psychological process of differentiation of the self out of each individual’s conscious and unconscious elements. Jung considered it to be the main task of human development. He created several psychological concepts that are among the best known, including synchronicity, archetypal phenomena, the collective unconscious, the psychological complex, and extraversion and introversion. The Jung typology (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and MBTI)is one of the world’s most established and well-respected models on personality and behavior. Tests using the Jung typology model are widely used by organizations for assessment centers, team building, coaching, and personal development.