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Case studies

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Case study: Individual Therapeutic Coaching

Type:

1:1 Therapeutic Coaching

Client:

Head of Department

Industry: 

Public sector/Travel

Length of coaching contract:

8 months

Number of sessions:

20 x 50 minute sessions

Presenting challenges at assessment session:

Client was high achieving at work, financially secure, stable personal relationships, no history of mental health difficulties, and no reported current significant life stressors.  However, client reported feeling increasingly frustrated and "out of control" at work, which was negatively impacting his motivation, his confidence with his team members and senior colleagues, and belief in his leadership ability and future career prospects.  It emerged that he'd failed to gain promotion some months earlier, which was causing friction with his boss. While he was "holding it together" at work, it was causing conflict at home with his partner, resulting in him feeling trapped in an overwhelming cycle of stress, which had begun to feel unmanageable personally and professionally.

Agreed Goals for Therapeutic Coaching (following assessment session):

  1. Understand negative patterns of behaviour in personal and professional relationships that feel overwhelming, distressing, and damaging

  2. To address feelings of self-doubt in leadership style and ability, and improve confidence in ability to succeed at Director level at work

Summary of Therapeutic Coaching process

Early sessions – formulating an understanding of the problems:

The person-centred counselling way of being created a warm, safe, non-judgemental relationship, built on trust and empathy.  We began to understand:​

  • The client had not realised the impact of the missed promotion, and had been ignoring/suppressing a 'pressure cooker' build up of heightened anxiety for some time

  • His need to ‘fake’ a continued sense of confidence with colleagues was at the root of his worries about being an ‘inauthentic leader’/imposter syndrome

  • From childhood, the client finds intense emotions as highly uncomfortable  and threatening, resulting in the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms/safety behaviours (e.g. an intense need to feel in control during challenging times)

 

The middle sessions – creating, and practising solutions:

  • To develop healthier emotional regulation, we enhanced client’s self-awareness of inner world, in relation to both his physical (body) and cognitive (inner voice) self.

    • Psychoeducation around the nervous system activation (FFF) and the power of parasympathetic nervous system (e.g benefits of mindfulness/breathing on stress reduction and enhanced presence )

    • Used coaching tools to assess daily stress levels, and worked on the client’s emotional intelligence (EI) in identifying/feeling emotions

    • Created a Wheel of Wellness to assess the areas of client’s life that contributed to holistic health and wellbeing, and identify any areas that had been neglected/deprioritised due to work pressures

    • Used various executive coaching tools to assess and redesign optimal 'work-life balance'

  • Explored and understood client’s ‘triggers points’

    • Drew on psychodynamic understanding to explore earlier life experiences and how his response in the present may be linked to the coping mechanisms he experiences in the ‘here and now’

    • Identified unhelpful ‘safety behaviours’(e.g. black and white thinking) and used CBT techniques to challenge these ‘core beliefs’ about himself and others to create more balanced narratives

  • Worked through his need to ‘be in control’:

    • Used the ‘Circles of Control' model on several current live pressure situations to challenge client’s perspective, create new options, and develop new plans for how he could approach each issue

    • Enhanced client’s empathy skills by exploring how his behaviours might impact others (e.g. partner/boss/team mates), and developed and practised new healthier coping mechanisms to replace old habits e.g. “Communication not Conflict”, and setting clear boundaries

  • Rebuilding confidence in leadership style and ability by focusing on a) strengths, skills, and personal qualities; b) Leadership style, enhanced self-acceptance and self-belief and c) values – identified client’s core personal and professional values and identified any areas of current misalignment/conflict

  • With greater clarity resulting from the work above, identified future 'real' developmental needs: a) increase confidence in ability to think and communicate strategically; b) explored options to gain more exposure for strategic thinking to be recognised; c) build on his newly emerging emotional understanding to keep communicating more clearly, and with more trust and less controlling safety behaviours (personally and professionally)

 

 

Final sessions: reviewing progress, fine tuning solutions, and planning for future

With deeper understanding about his strengths and desired organisational values, the later sessions supported him through process of applying for and achieving a Director role in a different company. The final sessions focussed on leaving his current organisation with a strong professional legacy and working relationships (including a renewed trust with his boss) and preparing to approach his new leadership role with maximum confidence, enjoyment and a new foundation of balance across his personal and professional worlds.

Outcome for client:

Out of the clarity gained during the coaching process, the client found several new 'growth' objectives emerged in addition to his original goals, which he found unexpected and rewarding.  The client's progress was facilitated through enhanced self-awareness of his strengths, qualities, and values, and also the unconscious self-limiting beliefs and unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving that were 'damaging' his confidence and relationships.  Recognising these enabled him to develop and practice strategies to achieve greater emotional regulation, which was strengthed by practical changes he made to better prioritise his time and work-life balance.  The client worked hard to 'let go of' old habits of needing to control outcomes, which freed up his energy to think and behave more strategically and influentially.  He was brave to dig deep to develop a more open and trusting way of communicating with others, which improved the quality of his relationships at work and at home.  Now able to notice when old habits flare up (e.g. an inner critical voice), the client is skilled in drawing on CBT tools to create with a more balanced and self-compassionate perspective, enabling him to make better decisions. He will take these skills, along with his confidence in his ability to lead with calm energy, freedom, and authenticity, into his new senior leadership (Director level) role.

Testimonial:

“I found Lucy’s approach and her style to be a winning combination to raise my self-awareness, understand more about my triggers and responses, and to learn new techniques for better self-management. Lucy's ability to skilfully play back what she was hearing, to explain the 'science', and to recognise patterns and links in my experience has been hugely beneficial to me as someone who likes to understand. Together with her ability to ask questions that challenged me to think and feel more deeply,  we explored more breadth than what I originally sought help for, making the experience more comprehensive and helpful from a whole-life perspective. As a result of this experience I feel calmer, more able to “feel”, to understand the origins of my reactions and to notice their impacts.”

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