I sometimes, in my session with new Clients, get the feeling (some even admit it) that they find it hard to open up in front of me, a Coach, but a stranger, afterall.
I totally agree. I believe this is a cultural thing, as well as an educational one, that it is related to how each of us were brought up, the models from home or school and the encouragement we received in childhood from parents and educators to speak up.
It is also strongly related to our experiences throughout our lives, as a lot of disappointments, trust violation or even betrayal and hurt can (if we allow it) shut us up forever towards certain contexts.
I totally get it and respect it. I am not a psychotherapist, in front of whom it would be (supposedly) easier to talk about yourself.
And yet, I believe this needs a bit of clarification of certain aspects that might help Clients understand the exact role of a good Coach, and thus, succeed in becoming more open and proactive in solving their objectives, for which they had agreed to a coaching process in the first place:
– A good Coach is a moral and ethical Coach. In other words, every Coach must include in their Client’s agreement a strong confidentiality clause. For example the coaching Code of Ethics (of the International Coach Federation), according to which all conversations that happen in the sessions are totally confidential.
– A trained, experienced and seasoned Coach will always know how to invite intimacy, build rapport and create a safe emotional space, in which the barriers meltdown and you come out in the open with trust and your authentic self (true for both the Client and the Coach).
– A good Coach will always know and will kindly but openly let the Client know if he/she believes that a better way of assistance is psychotherapy. To spot certain personality disorders and their symptoms should be part of coaching training in the coaching schools. Healing from personal psychological traumas or derailers, however, is not part of coaching expertise and it would be ethical for a Coach to not involve in the process.
– A good Coach trusts the coaching process. The process in which the Coach guides the conversation so that each Client finds his own rhythm, speed, readiness and willingness to open up. The Coach is observant, empathetic and responsive and partners with Clients so that they (the Clients) choose what happens in their sessions. If a Client is not yet ready to open up the Coach should always respect that.
– A good Coach is displaying a “low position” towards his/her Client. In other words, the Coach is not showing off, never appears as a guru or an expert. The truth is that a Coach will neither have prefabricated solutions nor know BETTER than his/her Client (a Client who spent maybe years trying to figure out how to solve certain personal objectives) what the Client should do. Finding Client’s own personalised solutions should be entirely a Client’s job, while assisting and guiding the process should be a Coach’s job.
In the end, I encourage Clients to make sure they gather enough information about their Coach (affiliations, certification/accreditation, specific confidentiality clauses present in contractual agreement, experience, other Client’s testimonials) and combine this with how they actually feel in the coach’s presence.
The energy you get from your Coach and the chemistry is important, as well as your intuition about all non-verbal information you receive (from Coach’s tone of voice to his/her listening skills and genuine interest towards your personna, your agenda and your objectives).