For people who have never experienced coaching, it's hard to envision what it is or what it can do for them. The following stories are typical for my clients.
Sylvia is 43, recently divorced, has two children in grade school (one of whom has special needs), and she has been substitute teaching for several years while trying to get a full-time teaching job. She had just given up hope and started interviewing for a job in an unrelated field when a teaching opportunity arose - in the same week! She was struggling with whether to get her energy back up for this teaching interview, which was so hard to do after having resigned herself to not teaching. But she'd put so much time into teaching and her training for it that she felt couldn't just walk away from it. How could she get her enthusiasm back up for this interview? Would she really have time to take care of her kids and take on a full-time teaching position? The teaching position would pay more but would also demand a great deal from her. She also felt pressure from friends and family, and that pressure wasn't helping her to discern what the right path was for her.
Our work together was to unearth what she really wanted and needed to do. She came to her own conclusion that she needed to show up to both interviews whole-heartedly. She relayed empassioned stories about the impact she'd had on students, and when I suggested she share those stories in her interview, she jumped at that: she said that one of her weaknesses had always been that she couldn't think of stories like that on the spot.
At the end of an hour, Sylvia had cleared up her own confusion; she knew how to prepare for both interviews; and she felt confident that she could live happily with the outcomes of those interviews. She got a job offer out of the process, and she is now working happily in a field that she finds satisfying.
Denise is in her mid-60s. All her life she was a very active, independent and creative woman, but in recent years she experienced a cascade of medical crises that left her tired, in pain and depressed. She expressed fear about even attempting coaching: "I am afraid there's just going to be a black hole when I look for inner resources," she said to me.
I used some guided meditation with Denise to help her explore the situation she was facing. Her physical options had changed because of her health, but her resourcefulness, spirituality and wisdom were still powerful and found expression in our time together. Over several sessions, she realized she had the power to stop her anxiety before it overtook her day-to-day experience of life. Each of our sessions ended with her feeling more empowered and at peace.
A concrete example is that she had always been drawn to water for its ability to calm her, to bring her heart back to a peaceful place and to refresh her spirit. She could no longer just jump in her car and drive to those outdoor places. In one of our sessions, though, she came up with the idea to keep a fountain in her living space. The sound of the water flowing touched a hopeful and happy place within her, and she no longer felt bereft of this powerful resource.
Because of the things you gave me to think about and the things we discussed, I've really come out of a dark place. I'm more energetic. It has affected me physically. Our work together touched my head, my heart and my physical self.
Frida is 30 and trained as a clothing designer. She recently transitioned from working a day-job to starting her own business out of her home, while also balancing responsibilities for her house, her own child, step-parenting of her partner's two children and cultivating her romantic relationship with her partner.
She found that she struggled with finding her place in the balance of caring for others and starting a new business. Knowing she was artistic and visual, I asked her about how that picture looked to her. What was her place in the Big Picture of her nurturing roles?
Frida made some sketches as we spoke. They were variations on a tree: was she one of the branches? The trunk? What were the roots and how did they feed her and the others in her life? How did energy flow back and forth between the different people in her Tree of Her Life?
Frida took this image and worked with it in collage form outside of our sessions. She used pictures from magazines, photos of her family members and gold string to explore the relationships. In using a medium that was a natural and powerful expression for her, she took steps in defining where she was and where she wanted to go moving forward. It was a different process than what she usually had in therapy, and she felt power and momentum in her life because of what she'd discovered about herself.