This interview with Caroline appeared in our local newspaper recently, and generated a lot of interest, I think because it clarifies so succinctly the difference between a personal life coach and traditional counsellors and therapists. Here it is in its entirety:
I studied psychology at McGill and wanted to be a therapist, but also a stay at home mother; that came first. Years later as my children began to leave the nest I read in the Montreal Gazette about coaching, and realised it was an even better fit. After some research, I found the school where I was subsequently trained.
My life has been one of introspection and self-examination. I was a divorced mother with four children and diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I dealt with those challenges by writing a book and leading a workshop for MS sufferers. Nine years ago I co-founded Quiet Mind Seminars with my husband. These therapeutic tools were not just for others but for me too, and a catalyst for my personal growth.
My work with Quiet Mind Seminars is fundamental to my coaching practice. Mindful reflection, self-awareness, and personal growth bring richness and quality to the method I learned. Being a part of the workshops and the community that’s formed around them has given me even broader insight into the daily stresses of life. Everyone has a story; everyone experiences tragedy; everyone gets stuck. We all need a support system.
What sort of people come to a coach?
People who are aware of their frustration — of their inability to get to where they want to be; they recognize they can’t do it alone, and that their strategies to date haven’t worked. That’s our starting point.
Those who contact me find something in my website that makes real change seem doable; they come motivated to participate in a working relationship. Instead of the judgement, advice and counselling most people associate with therapy, they’re looking for the confidence and inner strength they need to act on their own self-knowledge.
Like counselling and therapy, the coach-client relationship is critical to the outcome. Above all, a coach listens and reflects, helping you discover and invest in qualities you already have. With exercises custom-designed for your personality and situation, I bring buried abilities to the surface. Those exercises are painstakingly constructed — in fact, most of my work takes place between meetings as I consider what I’ve heard and felt. For clients, the process is one of discovery, moving forward through active reflection. They witness change for themselves, and that makes it real and enduring.
How does change happen?
Change happens by first of all indentifying just how you’re stuck in a particular situation — such as a relationship at work or at home. I dig up forgotten or ignored perspectives so you can deal with it in a new way. This widening vision is profoundly simple, but hard to find without the reflective feedback of a trained coach. Then, brief daily exercises shape that change for clearer awareness, new attitudes and greater meaning.
Bringing out neglected aspects of yourself recharges your self-image, clarifies what you want and changes the way you deal with others. The defining quality of such natural change has nothing to do with me or my opinions but with who you are. The new directions are part of you, not some new idea introduced by someone else. My job is to hear, understand, interpret and reflect what the client says.
My training enables me to resist the impulse to think I know what’s best; I help clients see all possibilities, not to advise them. That way, the process of change is genuinely their own.
Describe the process
Coaching starts with a goal or a wish to achieve something. Often, the goal is not fully formed and we work to define it more clearly. It may be as simple as, “to change careers,” or “to have a better relationship with my spouse.”
Clients participate actively at every step. For ten or fifteen minutes a day they’re asked to step outside of familiar patterns and practice their custom techniques. Subsequently, they look back upon them with greater awareness of not just who they are but also who they can be. It’s a holistic perspective. In coaching you’re doing something every day, pursuing change in small increments. It’s less of an intellectual exercise than a physical, emotional, intuitive one. Stopping smoking, for example, is always a good idea — and yet it’s hard. Why? Because it’s not the thinking brain that initiates change. We change though continual practice, like learning to ride a bike. It’s a gentle but strong process. A good coach sees resistance and adjusts the exercises as things progress.
What has your coaching career taught you about people?
That when they realise that they have what they need already inside them, and that the change is coming from them and not someone else, they find courage and strength. To this day I get goose bumps whenever I see that realisation; it’s tremendously exciting. The coach is a catalyst of change, not the initiator, so in many ways I’m an onlooker — but a friendly one.
For more information, visit www.courey.com or call NEW WAY life coaching 450-853-0616.