Full Circle

Joseph Grech

Today I’ve been at yet another coaching introductory course! This one was one run by Full Circle, a coaching provider than focuses on transformation coaching. Transformation coaching is deemed a more holistic approach to coaching clients, offering long-term, sustainable change when compared with transactional coaching, which is a more structured and goal orientated approach, often relying on clients coming to sessions with specific challenges or goals.

Today’s introductory course was a little different from the others I’ve attended. It was far less showy and the focus was very much on giving attendees a real opportunity to learn about the coaching industry. Trainer, Joseph Grech didn’t put on a big performance for his audience, instead he came across as being down to earth, simply explaining Full Circle’s approach to coaching, giving a breakdown of the course structure, as well as candidly answering all our our questions about both the course and the industry.

Although perhaps not the most engaging introductory day I’ve attended, it was informative and felt entirely sincere, which was refreshing! The most valuable part of the day for me, in terms of my coaching development, was having the opportunity to observe a full coaching session between Joseph (an experienced coach) and a willing participant (a volunteer from the group who came along with a genuine issue). I’ve seen (and been involved with) coaching demonstrations at other introductory days, but until now I hadn’t witnessed a full coaching session. It was invaluable to see the full process from the coach welcoming the client into the space, explaining the remit of the service and outlining things such as the confidentiality policy; right through to the coach wrapping up the session and asking the client for feedback.

A few specific observations I noted about the coaching session were the engaging body language, tone of voice and pace Joseph maintained throughout the coaching, the in-depth listening he demonstrated and the amount of reflection and questioning he used to both challenge the client and encourage her to open up. He also used a technique I’d encountered before, which coaches use when clients don’t feel they can offer an answer when questioned on a particular issue that’s personal to them. The technique is essentially to get them to utilise their brain to come up with a solution to their own problem. Often clients can do this is they think a question is just hypothetical, or if they don’t really see that it’s them coming up with the solution.  For instance a client may say “I don’t know what I’d do if I quit my job” to which a coach may respond “But what if you did know, what might you think about doing?” or if a client were to say “What do you think I should do about my boss?” the coach may offer “What do you think I would suggest?” Another strategy is for the coach to use rhetorically questions. The client may  make a statement like “I feel that I can’t get on with people” or “I think that no one will employ me” to which the coach may ask “You feel that, or you know that?” allowing the client the opportunity to really reflect on whether something is actually a fact, or rather a limiting belief they hold.

Something else I found useful, which may be of interest to any aspiring coaches out there is the concept of Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) – This refers to when someone (in this case the coach) has a positive bias towards another person (in this case the client), which may cloud their ability to be objective. For example, if you (the coach) had worked as a nurse in a past life and had a very negative experience of working incredibly hard, over long hours and felt you hadn’t been sufficiently supported, you may assume your client (who is a nurse) also works incredibly hard and has been unfairly treated, which may not necessarily be the case. In instances like this Joseph advised referring the client onto another coach, one who can offer a more impartial service.


Essential Oils

Wild Orange Essential Oil

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop in central London about essential oils, as I was interested to find out a little about what these are and how they can be used to support good health.

The session was run by Madeleine Bergquist, who is working in partnership with a company called doTERRA, to promote and sell their essential oils, as one of their ‘Independent Wellness Advocates’.

Madeleine has strong knowledge about the products and seemed genuinely passionate about promoting them, it was a great introduction to essential oils. Firstly she explained that essential oils are not actually oils. They are simply naturally occurring compounds that come from plants. They have various roles within the plant such as aiding pollination; and often have a powerful aroma to them.

Madeleine also explained that essential oils can be used to treat a number of health complaints, although she did stress that they shouldn’t be used instead of Western medicine, but rather to complement it.

There are various ways of using essential oils:
1) Inhaling them directly (smelling the oil from the bottle, applying a few drops to a tissue or pillow case, or inhaling through steaming water)
2) Inhaling them indirectly (through a diffuser or a spray)
3) Ingesting them into the body (*direct application to the skin – this can be done in an aromatherapy massage, or in some cases you might put a drop onto your tongue or in a glass of drinking water).


Essential Oils Starter Kit

I bought a starter kit (shown above) containing three of the more popular/commonly used essential oils: lavender, peppermint and lemon. Although I don’t think the lavender is the most pleasant smell, it’s thought to be relaxing and useful to aid sleep. Since purchasing the kit I’ve frequently been putting a couple of drops of lavender onto a tissue on my pillow when I go to bed, to help me relax and fall asleep. My favourite smell however is the wild orange. As you might expect it has a powerful, sweet, citrus smell, similar to pink grapefruit.


Coaching with Hypnotherapy

Last Saturday I attended another life coaching foundation course in central London; this one was again different to the others I’ve attended, as it also included an element of hypnotherapy (which isn’t something I’ve had much exposure to). This course was an introductory day, run by John Mill and his colleague Joan of Evolve Hypnotherapy, aimed specifically at those looking to become life coaches. The course was held at Birkbeck University and followed a similar format to the other introductory courses I’ve attended, involving a number of different elements including: introductions and anecdotes from the trainers, theory, practical demonstrations with volunteers (including myself) and pair activities.

Some of the information presented e.g. analysing eye movement, which comes from the NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) branch of life coaching, was something I’d been introduced to previously. From what I’ve observed course content for life coaching courses seems fairly consistent from the various training providers (although some will have a particular focus, in this case Evolve offers an element of hypnotherapy). Other considerations when choosing a course include the general approach to coaching; is the provider more goal focused or does it have a more in-depth, holistic approach (perhaps focusing more on why the client hasn’t achieved their goals previously/has established negative belief patterns for example). The other main distinction seems to be about the provider’s course structure. By this I’m referring to the way the course is run (the course duration, whether it’s undertaken online or in a classroom setting and the elements that make up the course -for instance practical hours, assessments etc.)

Evolve appears to be a much smaller provider/less established than some of the others I’m come across, for instance Animas and The Coaching Academy. This may mean there is less overall structure and as a trainee coach, you’re likely to work with a smaller number of other trainees (as the course intake is likely to be smaller), so will have fewer people to practice the strategies and techniques with, however I can also see the benefits of training with a smaller provider. Training with a provider like Evolve is likely to offer you a more intimate, personal experience, where you have a closer relationship with the trainers, as well as your peers on the course. I expect this would create more of a ‘family’ style environment. Like with a work setting, I think finding a provider that suits your personality and your way of working is important; and I’ve found attending introductory days has been useful for me in gauging this. For example I have ruled out any online providers because virtual learning is not for me. I know that I learn better in a classroom setting and I also prefer the interaction and opportunity to build relationships, which a live environment offers.

Years ago I attended the ‘Friendly Spider Programme’ at London Zoo, (a day course aimed at helping those with arachnophobia overcome their fear of spiders through hypnotherapy). This is the only time I’ve been exposed to hypnotherapy, so I was quite relieved to find no one was able to take control of my mind or put me to sleep. Personally I found hypnotherapy was just like being in a more relaxed state of mind, similar to the state you experience during meditation. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it though, perhaps I was disappointed as I thought there would be more to it or that my fear would vanish within 24 hours, which wasn’t the case, although I did find the course helpful to some extent. Since then I’ve been keen to learn more about how hypnotherapy works, to see if my experience was typical.

During the Evolve training day we were invited to be hypnotised as a group, which involved us listening to John direct us to focus on our breathing, to think about our bodies relaxing and to picture ourselves in a pleasant place, thinking positive thoughts. This is done gradually, with suggestions of where you might be, what you might be seeing, hearing and feeling and allows you to slowly and gently move into a deeper state of consciousness. Following this, we then paired up and took turns to hypnotise our partners, using the scripts provided. This exercise linked in with the earlier eye movement task, as we were encouraged to identify whether we are a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic in terms of the primary sense we respond to (most people lean more towards one of these senses). We were then asked to use the specific script applicable to our partner, which focused on the particular sense they respond best to. The reason for this is that when you’re attempting to connect with a person, being aware of the sense they identify most with can help you communicate with them effectively, and promote a strong response from them. For instance,  if you ask someone how their holiday was and they describe how clean the beach looked, how shiny the marble in the hotel lobby was and the exquisite colour of the sea, they are likely to be a more ‘visual’ person. If they describe the sound of the waves, the chirping of the birds outside their bedroom window and the music they heard in a bar they went to, they are likely to be an ‘audio’ person. Finally, if the person describes how relaxing it felt to have a break, how walking on the soft sand felt and how warm and friendly the staff at their hotel were, they are likely to be more of a ‘kinaesthetic’ person. The scripts were therefore tailored accordingly.

I now understand that hypnotherapy is about invoking an altered state of consciousness, allowing the hypnotherapist to tap into the client’s subconscious mind, to make suggestions in order to re-programme patterns of behaviour; a tool used to help encourage positive change in a person’s thoughts and in turn, their actions. The client must of course be open to this in order for it to work effectively. Having now revisited hypnotherapy, I’m starting to see how this could be beneficial.

There was also teaching about Human Needs Psychology, a theory suggesting six basic human needs (based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs I believe). This theory differs from Maslow’s Hierarchy however, firstly because the needs are somewhat different (although the premise is the same in that the theory seeks to explain our motivations), and secondly because unlike Maslow’s structure, where everyone has the same basic need (physiological) and works up towards the highest need (self-actualisation), with the six needs there is no set order or hierarchy. Instead, the importance placed on each need is determined by the individual. These six needs are: certainty, uncertainty, significance, love/connection, growth and contribution. When these were described, this really resonated with me. I can see how I strive for all of these things, which are my priorities and some of the functional and dysfunctional ways I work to achieve them.

John also discussed the importance of living in the moment (not focusing on the past which can’t be changed, or wishing away time to get to the future assuming this will be better), how moving in a positive direction is better than not moving at all, and he explained how the stories we continue to tell ourselves can block us from taking action in our lives. An expression he used to portray our inactivity in implementing new knowledge and learning was “Shelf development not self-development”, which is similar to Brooke Castillo referring to our ‘passive learning‘ when we read/listen/discuss but don’t take the next step of putting our learning into practice. We learn something on an intellectual level but until we implement this learning, it’s not providing us with its full value.