The field of life coaching has enjoyed consistent growth in recent years. It now accounts for billions of dollars in global revenue, and has grown at a rate of approximately 4.7% for the last five years (IBIS World., 2017, March). Life coaching’s popularity stems in part from its stellar results; coaching has been found to lead to “a 77% improvement in relationships, 67% improvement in teamwork, 61% improvement in job satisfaction and 48% improvement in quality.” (Fromell, S., 2016)
What does working to achieve those results look like when coaches are interacting with individual clients and addressing their particular needs? In many cases, life coaches can help their clients with an approach known as solution-focused counselling.
Here is an overview of solution-focused counselling concepts that students completing life coach training can use in their practice.
Solution-Focused Counselling Empowers Clients to Use Their Own Strengths to Overcome Problems
At the core of solution-focused counselling is the notion that clients already possess the skills to overcome their problems, they just need help in identifying and developing them (GoodTherapy.org, 2016). However, for many clients—and especially those suffering from something called the “impostor syndrome”—recognizing and accepting their own strengths and abilities can be an especially difficult challenge.
Impostor syndrome can affect executives, managers, or high achievers who seek life coaching services. These individuals—while extremely capable and deserving of their success—have trouble recognizing their own abilities (Weir, K., 2013). Instead of accepting their status and responsibilities, these clients will attribute their success to luck or other external factors, and perceive themselves as a fraud or impostor (Weir, K., 2013). While often difficult to address, one of the best ways for a client to overcome this form of acute self-doubt is to evaluate their abilities and acknowledge what they are doing correctly. This makes the approach offered by solution-focused counselling ideal.
Once a life coach has helped their client identify solutions that they already use from time to time, they can gently encourage their client to build on these existing strengths to achieve their desired outcome.
Life Coach Training Teaches the Value of Future-Focused Questions
To help clients discover and accept their strengths, coaches employing a solution-focused approach will often ask strategic questions. For example, if a client often feels anxious about public speaking, the life coach could ask if there was a time when this fear was less pronounced, or if there was a time when the client thought they would fail to give a good presentation and didn’t (Dolan, Y., M.A., n.d.). These questions encourage reflection and help the client recognize which actions they are already taking that lead to a positive outcome.
Graduates of life coach certification programs learn to ask what are called “miracle questions”. A miracle question asks a client to imagine themselves waking up with all of their current problems solved (Dolan, Y., M.A., n.d.). However, in this hypothetical scenario, the client doesn’t know that this miracle has taken place (Dolan, Y., M.A., n.d.). What would be the first hint that a miracle has occurred? What would they do differently in this new scenario? If a nervous client suddenly woke up feeling confident, would they speak up at a meeting, laugh more with coworkers, or pitch a new idea they had been working on?
These questions help clients envision themselves achieving their goals (Dolan, Y., M.A., n.d.). Those who become a life coach can help clients use these realisations as a springboard to enact change.
Professionals With a Life Coach Diploma Can Harness the Power of Compliments & Self-Compliments
Solution-focused counselling also taps into the substantial but underappreciated power of compliments. Compliments serve the purpose of both acknowledging challenges and validating a client’s hard work (Dolan, Y., M.A., n.d.). Research has also established that “compliments activate the same region of the brain… as cash does,” providing a powerful motivational boost. (Brice, S., 2012, November 9).
This can be especially beneficial for female clients, who, according to the International Coach Federation, account for “66% of managers/leaders using coaching skills” (ICF, 2016, 15). According to recent studies, “Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities.” (Kay, K & Shipman, C., 2014). In addition, women are also more likely to dismiss accomplishments and dwell on past failures (Kay, K & Shipman, C., 2014). Therefore, life coaches can use compliments as a power tool for building confidence.
In addition to directly complimenting clients, The Institute for Solution-Focused Therapy recommends “appreciatively toned questions of ‘How did you do that?’ that invite the client to self-compliment” (Dolan, Y., M.A., n.d.). By inviting clients to compliment themselves, life coaches can help them acknowledge their own accomplishments and help promote greater awareness of their own abilities.
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Brice, M. (2012, November 9). Science Explains Why Compliments Feel so Good. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from http://www.medicaldaily.com/science-explains-why-compliments-feel-so-good-243457
Brief.org.uk. (n.d.). What Happens in Solution Focused Counselling. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from https://www.brief.org.uk/therapy-and-coaching/what-happens-in-solution-focused-counselling
Counselling Directory. (n.d.). Solution-focused brief therapy. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/solution-focused-brief-therapy.html
Dolan, Y., M.A. (n.d.). What is Solution-focused Therapy? Retrieved October 12, 2017, from https://solutionfocused.net/what-is-solution-focused-therapy/
GoodTherapy.org. (2016). Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
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Sumarah, J. (2009). Reflections for the Beginning Counsellor. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from www.acadiau.ca/~rlehr/Beginning%20Counsellor%20Sumarah%202009.docx Kay, K & Shipman, C. (2014, May) The Confidence Gap. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-confidence-gap/359815/
Weir, K. (2013, November) Feel like a fraud? Retrieved October 12, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx International Coaching Federation. (2016). 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study. 1-21.
Fromell, S. (2016, January 25). The Rising Popularity of Life Coaching. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/269936