While most kinds of coaching share the same objective of helping people make positive moves forward in life, there are a myriad of ways in which clients need help doing that. Not only might they respond differently to different coaching methods, they may also respond better to more or less intervention from the professional to help them get going on their way.

Some people come to a coach (or another kind of helping professional) knowing what their need is and how they want to be helped and are able to articulate that. Many others may not know and yet are drawn to seek out attention in the hope that this professional will know what they need and how to work on it.

The coach also has a need to be assured that they have been helpful. When the client’s need is known and lines up nicely with the coach’s approach to helping, the outcomes of that approach are more easily recognized and appreciated. When the client’s need is not known or does not line up nicely with how the coach works and what the coach expects then there can be disappointment in the outcome on both sides of the relationship.

Rather than fault the client for not knowing, or fault the coach for lack of diversity in their methodology, I would like to explore a way in which the understanding of needs for professional attention can be expanded to include a vital benefit that is potentially available to every coach-client relationship.

The science of psychology is coming to appreciate that the experience of well-being – a sense of thriving – is not merely something that happens in the mind; it is a whole-body experience where the psychological features of well-being are inextricably intertwined with the physiological features. More than ever, the mind is seen as being embodied in the entire nervous system, not just ‘in the head’, and two or more people (two ’embodied minds’) benefit greatly from this positive interaction, and is a vital component of well-being. While psychology has produced many professions that focus on making positive impacts on the mind, it is expanding the professional view to appreciate its positive impacts on the body as a whole. When the physiological body is thriving, it creates energy and observable feedback (i.e. sensations) and influence on the mind that can be recognized and measured in a way that satisfies the need for scientific evidence.

A client spending time in positive interaction with a coach could be receiving a physiological benefit before, below, or even despite the effect of any method or conversational tool the coach might consciously be applying.  It is well known that the quality of the relationship between the coach and the client itself is a major factor in outcomes, and virtually all evidenced-based methods in coaching (by definition) have ways by which their psychological impact is measured. But what is not common is a way to measure the physiological impact of the relationship and those methods.

How could a coach, and how could a client, recognize that they have experienced a positive physiological outcome from their time spent together?  And, what if that positive physiological outcome was all the client needed to get going forward, with no additional psychological intervention required?  Coaches and other helping professionals who have been trained to intentionally facilitate and identify beneficial outcomes in the body as a whole, and not only ‘in the head’, would be positioned to provide even more value to their clients.

This is what my studies and my thesis aimed to explore.


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