In this week’s guest post Lenny Deverill-West shares how he has been practically incorporating other teachings into his own work with clients.
The Coaching Aha!
I’m sure we have all had those coaching genius moments where we do some work with a client and they have an ‘Aha’ moment, and they light up like an electric light bulb, almost as quickly as their fears, worries and doubts fade into nothing and are replaced with a renewed sense of confidence, enthusiasm and all the other good stuff.
And of course there’s the other side of coin where you’ve done even more great work with a client, the stars have seemly aligned, every barrier has been removed and they know exactly what they should do but yet, it doesn’t ‘feel’ solved?, something hasn’t quite shifted for them? it makes sense, but something is still there.
Now there are many reasons for this and even more approaches to deal with it. So when I read a book I was recommended called ‘Focusing’ by psychotherapist Eugine Gendlin, I was interested to find in it some clues how to get a few more of those Aha moments in my coaching.
While researching what makes psychotherapy successful or unsuccessful, Gendlin observed that often it was not down to the therapist’s technique that determined the success, but there was something the patient was doing. A kind of ‘inner act’, with an observable set of behaviors.
I think a lot of us might recognise this as tapping in the right place, the client is getting it, they’re having an insight, the penny is dropping there is a noticeable positive shift not just in their thinking but physically, you can actually see it happening.
Gendlin found that the successful patients had the ability to respond to the therapist’s work though a very subtle and vague internal bodily awareness, which he termed a ‘felt sense’.
A felt sense is not an emotion but a bodily felt sense or awareness of a problem, worry or hurt. The clients ability to be aware of this ‘felt sense’ and therefore it’s absence, through the coaching provide, can supply them with a tangible ‘felt sense’ of their issues being shifting and releasing.
In his wonderful book Focusing, Gendlin describes a common naturalistic occurrence of Focusing.
“You are about to take a plane trip, let’s say to visit family or friends. You board the airplane with a small but insistent thought nagging you: you have forgotten something. The plane takes off. You stare out the window, going through various things in your mind. Seeking that elusive little piece of knowledge.
What did I forget? What was it?
You are troubled by the felt sense of some unresolved situation, something left undone, something left behind.
Notice you don’t have any factual data, you have an inner aura, an internal taste. Your body knows, but you don’t
Maybe you try to argue it away, try to squash it intellectually or rise above it – the method of belittling it.
You tell yourself: no, I won’t let this bother me and spoil my trip.
Of course, that doesn’t work. The feeling is still there. You sigh and rummage in your mind again.
You find a possibility “ Helens Party! I forgot to tell Helen I can’t come to her party!’
This idea doesn’t satisfy the feeling. It is perfectly true that you forgot to tell Helen you would miss her party but you body knows it isn’t this that has been nagging you all morning.
You still don’t know what you forgot and you still feel that wordless discomfort. Your body knows you have forgotten something else and it knows what that something is. That is how you can tell it isn’t Helens party.
At some moments the felt sense of what it is gets so vague that it almost disappears, but at other moments it comes in so strongly that you feel you almost know.
Then suddenly from the felt sense, it burst to the surface
The Snapshots! I forgot to pack the picture I was going to show Charlie. You have hit it and the act of hitting it gives you a sudden physical relief.
Somewhere in your body, something releases, some tight thing lets go.”
When I read this it really started to connect a lot of dots for me in what I’m trying to achieve with my clients. Like many I have trained in various different types of change work from Coaching to Hypnotherapy and they all have their take on what is important in facilitating a client to change.
Some change workers like to focus on the root cause, by looking into the clients past and others might prefer to focus on the present, as the great thing about the past is that it in the past (These are extreme example to make a point, I realise it’s not that clear cut).
I have seen phenomenal change through both methods, but for me they are both effective ways of facilitating the client towards a notable shift in their experience.
How I use Focusing
I don’t follow the Gendlin’s six steps for Focusing exclusively but have looked to incorporate the ideas behind it onto my work.
Here’s is a very abridge transcript of a session I did with a client called Sue (not her real name) who was experiencing some anxiety in relation to what should have been a move to her dream home.
Me: So Sue, how can I help you?
Sue: Yes, well we’re moving to a beautiful new house, it’s in a lovely area and my husband loves the place but as much as I try and be positive about it and there is something that just doesn’t quite feel right and it’s been troubling me for some time now.
Me: Ok Sue so as you think about this move I’d like you to tune into your body and get a felt sense it of what been troubling you.
Sue, settles in her chair and begins to tune into her body.
Me: Have you got it?
Me: What’s that like?
Sue: It’s a horrible heaviness in my chest; it feels like there’s a black cloud over me.
Me: A horrible heaviness, your chest and a black cloud over you?
At this point I would begin coaching the client around their issue whist checking in with the felt sense.
In Sue’s case to check with what was happening with the sense of ‘horrible heaviness’ and ‘black cloud’. This would to allow her to become aware of the felt sense shifting and decreasing in direct relation to her own insights around her issue.
We rejoin the session at the point Sue has uncovered that she felt she had to like the house, because her husband loved it so much when they viewed it.
Sue: I should have been honest about my true feelings from the start
Me: You SHOULD have been honest?
Sue: Yes I should have just said I didn’t feel right about this house at the time, but he just seemed to love it some much, I felt I couldn’t.
Me: And what happens to that heavy black cloud feeling, when you think about not being honest at the time?
Sue: It makes it worse!
Me: It makes it worse the more you think what you SHOULD have done?
Me: So what would happen if you were honest about your true feelings now?
Sue: Well, I think my husband would be a bit disappointed, but I’m sure he would understand
Me: Sue when you think about you being more honest to your husband and telling him how you truly feel, what happens to that sense of heaviness in your chest and that black cloud?
Sue takes a few moments to shuffle in her chair as she tries to tune into the felt sense.
Sue: It’s kind of lifted
Me: It’s kind of lifted?
Sue: Yes, when I think about just being honest, saying what I wanted to say it’s just gone!
Working in this way links up what is felt in to body with the various techniques you might use in your coaching session, by doing this you can enable your clients to become even more aware of how their problem or issues are beginning to shift for them.
About the Author/Further Resources
Lenny Deverill-West is a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner, Coach and Corporate Trainer based in Southampton.
Lenny spends most his time seeing clients at his Southampton practice and is also developing trainings courses and Hypnotherapy products that are due out early next year. For more information about Lenny Deverill-West visit www.startlivingtoday.co.uk.