Invenio: Coaching and Mentoring May 2016 IIC&M - Page 40

can forget about your strengths. Your skills, positive circumstances, and past situations in which you’ve solved your problems may fade away in a vastness of chaotic thoughts and feelings. In such cases, the specialist may draw your attention to the resources you’ve got in order to find the solution.

14. Feeling safe

When working on heavy issues that may shake your outlook on the world or working on traumatic experiences that may trigger overwhelming emotions, you can lose control. Some people fear that they will go crazy, others fear that these strange emotions will never go away. For some, the fear of working on certain problems without help from a professional is so strong that they can’t take even the smallest step on their own.

Sometimes the support from the specialist is just about being close, sometimes it’s about saying that everything is going to be okay and encouraging you to follow the process. And sometimes it’s more complicated.

15. Using touch and the body

In some more liberal schools of changework, the specialist’s touch may play a very important role. Firstly, the therapist’s or coach’s touch can comfort the client and be a sign of support. Secondly, it can be an important aspect when working on the relationship between client and specialist (see point #12), especially in systemic psychotherapy. Thirdly, it can amplify the sensation in tense muscles that is caused by strong emotions and, as a result, it may make it easier for the client to experience and confront these emotions, especially in process-oriented psychotherapy.

16. Positive interjections

As a result of regular, ongoing work with a specialist, clients may develop a mechanism that works as an “internal therapist.” When a client talks about her problems and the therapist or coach repeatedly reacts in a certain way, this reaction may become internalized. For example, when the client experiences a failure, she may start to ask herself the same questions that the specialist would ask (instead of whimpering or self-criticizing). This way the client starts to think and act in a constructive, positive way as she overwrites the pattern that she learned from her parents, teachers, or peers.

17. Modeling functional behaviors

Talking about a behavior in an abstract way or knowing that a certain outcome is possible is one thing, but observing someone who actually models the behavior in real life is something very different. When you work with a specialist who doesn’t have the problems you do (or even better, a specialist who did have the same problems but was able to solve them), you can see with your own eyes what the constructive behavior looks like and what thought processes lead to it. For example, you can see the specialist demonstrating assertiveness, receiving feedback, reacting to criticism, or talking about difficult topics. You can also ask the specialist what his motives, emotions, or thoughts are when he performs a certain behavior.

18. Opening* the therapeutic (or coaching) process

* Opening a therapeutic process means making a mental space for certain emotions, thoughts, memories to come up and closing means summarizing, making conclusions, changing beliefs/value system/what the client identify with.

The last reason has to do with a fascinating phenomenon. In the case of regular, long-term individual work with a specialist, very often a therapeutic or coaching process may open. What this means is that the subconsciousness (and sometimes the consciousness as well) is strongly enagaged in the journey into yourself. As a result, between sessions you may encounter additional insights. Your dreams may become more focused on the issue you are working on, and you may notice more unexpected situations that are somehow related to your problem (this can be explained by the effect of selective focus).

Many clients feel like a special channel has been developed in their minds, designed specifically for understanding and resolving certain problems and that, after some time, it works independently, without the clients having to invest more effort (and this is why closing the therapeutic process at the end of the work is so crucial!).


Obviously, as with everything in life, individual work also has its disadvantages.

First of all, individual work is fairly expensive (even though it is more cost effective than attending multiple self-help seminars).

Second, it’s often time-consuming, especially in the case of short (e.g., 50-minute) sessions once a week. One-week-long seminars (and I’m not referring to Large Group Awareness Trainings) will most likely be more intensive, though this doesn’t mean that they will necessarily be more effective. Third, with individual work you miss out on the group process. In the case of certain problems, group therapy, workshops, or interpersonal training may be a better choice.