So you are interested in finding someone to give you a helping had in regards to some form of difficulty in your life. Be it relationships, work, anxiety, stress or phobias or anything else, there are a plethora or options out there available to you.
This makes things a bit complex! So you are most likely asking WHY COACHING??!
So what I would like to present to you on this page is the argument for Coaching and why in particular it is probably the single best option going for you (or anyone else for that matter!) in today’s world and why so many practitioners are beginning to switch coaching in favour of older more common forms of therapy such as counselling and psycho-therapy.
This Argument was put together by Ann Betz A researcher in the Neuroscience of coaching and as such it is directed from a Neuroscience perspective.
My Best Neuroscience Argument for Coaching
Recently I have asked the question “why coaching” quite regularly and as a scientist at heart I have been wondering upon this question from a scientific perspective in particular from a Neuroscience perspective. This is because most problems that coaching helps with are linked quite directly to brain functioning which is in turn the remit of neuroscience.
So what have I come to you ask! Here it is:
What would I say to you if you asked me at a cocktail party Well, what the argument for coaching from the point of view of neuroscience? (Not that anyone ever asks me that, but a girl can dream!)
I would turn to you and say, “well thanks for asking ;-)” But in seriousness I would probably state that I believe this to be a question of three answers which combine to form the best single response.
Firstly, the brain is a neuroplastic structure. This means in short that the nerves and signalling pathways that make it up can change. Coaching is one of the best ways to allow for this change to occur. On top of this it is very difficult to achieve on your own.
Second, We as people tend not to be fully integrated. This means that there are lots of parts of our personality and behaviours that are subconcious to some degree and we have little control over them due to being unaware of this simple fact. Coaching helps us to integrate these uncontrolled bits into ourselves, this makes us much more effective at what we aim to achieve.
Thirdly, humans in general are highly tuned to a reactive state of mind. Coaching helps us to act less reactively and take the time to consider, create and choose our responses.
Ok so now that’s in place lets break this down a bit:
1. The brain is neuroplastic and changeable. All our well-worn habits and behaviours have created what can be thought of as wagon wheel ruts in our brains. The more we use a neural pathway (e.g. repetitively perform one certain action or response), the more developed it becomes. This is very helpful when learning a new skill repetitive practice strengthens the pathways for that skill and consequently practice usually yields positive results. Unfortunately however it also what keeps us stuck. If I have a “wagon rut” for not speaking up in meetings (usually based on an early survival skill like not drawing attention to ones’ self in school) and I have been using it for years, that wagon wheel rut is going to be pretty darn deep. This is one reason it is so hard to change on our own, no matter how much we understand that a certain behaviour is not helpful or effective.
Working with a coach helps you to form new neural pathways, new ruts! There are many strategies coaches use: we ask clients to take a new perspective, we have them envision a different future, we help them look directly and confront issues rather than avoiding them. All of these methods are ways to create new potential neural pathways that can, with practice, be developed into default habits and responses. New and better wagon ruts! We also provide a structure for accountability (we all know that were much more likely to do something when we have made a promise to another and we know they will follow up) so that the actual practice, the doing, takes place. Which is what actually forms the new road for the wagon wheels. You can read more about Neuroplasticity here.
2. Coaching helps us integrate ourselves. We’ve been taught to compartmentalize, to shut off emotion (or sometimes not to be so rational). We have learned to act differently at work than at home or with friends. We all too often walk around not really knowing who we are, what we want, or how we really feel. Our brains are a bit like musicians all playing in separate practice rooms. We go to this room to listen to Mozart, this one for some dance tunes, etc. The tools and skills of professional coaching gets the brain linked up so it is more like musicians playing a symphony together. For example, when we work with a client on metaphor, we are using a tool that helps the right brain communicate effectively with the left, and we help build the connective tissue between the two hemispheres. When we have the client focus on their body sensations, we are helping them build integrative fibres in areas of the brain associated with empathy.
There is actually very little that we do that does not help our clients integrate in some way. And what we are learning about human effectiveness points to the symphony of integration as key. You can read more about integration here and about left and right brain function which also ties in here.
3. Coaching helps us create and choose. This is another big one. We are, as you all probably know, programmed for fight or flight. Our reptilian brain, also known as the limbic system, was the earliest part of the brain to develop during our evolution. It has run the show for a hundred million years, and its pull is strong to keep us alive. When we have gone limbic as one of my clients puts it, our brains and bodies are being pumped with adrenalin and cortisol which are designed to have us NOT THINK. Seriously. If you find this hard to believe read a little more about this here. If a sabre-toothed tiger is coming at you, you don’t actually want your brain in charge. You want your feet to move and you want to be stronger and faster than usual, even if it means you are tired afterwards.
So fast forward to 2012. No sabre-toothed tigers, just annoying emails, long lines in the grocery store, whining kids and too much traffic. Our limbic systems are pumped up when we don’t need them to be, and in this state, we aren’t able to really think, create, or choose. Coaching helps the client move out of the limbic area and into the upper brain. When the upper brain comes on line, it literally releases a substance called GABA which calms down the limbic system.
And because of the previous points neuroplasticity and integration the more we help our client move out of limbic reaction and into conscious choice and engagement of the upper brain, the easier and more natural it becomes for them. They begin to do things on their own such as take a new perspective or breathe and be present. Sometimes they say to us â€œI hear your voice in my head, or I ask myself what my coach would say. I don’t think this is usually dependency. I think it is a way they are building strength and rewiring their brains more effectively.
First presented March 16, 2012 at Your coaching brain
These are the main reasons that coaching is so effective however there are many more, simply book an appointment by calling 01823 272227 to see if we at Marlborough House can help you.