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The Coach’s Corner is a section of the newsletter devoted to family coaching, and the use of coaching skills in working with parents of struggling teens and young adults in their homes, or while they have a child in program. Coaching in this case can be either an alternative to residential placement when appropriate, a resource for program staff or as an aid in supporting families of young people transitioning home from wilderness or residential programs. The COACH’S CORNER welcomes submissions regarding Coaching (such as essays, research, articles, news, etc.) from anyone.

The Coach’s Corner was started by Woodbury Reports, Bill Valentine, Founder of Next Step For Success, and the accredited coaches of Next Step Coach Training, with “real life” condensed snapshots of what Coaching is about.


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Posted: Jun 24, 2008, 08:22

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By Bill Valentine

Amber has been at A Long and Winding Road Academy for three months. She arrived presenting with depression and chemical dependency. Her parents were panicked that her drug use would escalate to the level of her older brother who is currently serving time in the local jail for possession with intent to distribute. She had not attended school regularly for the past two semesters. Since arriving, she has been withdrawn but reasonably compliant. Her father has called the Academy's certified coach to complain about Amber's "lack of progress".

Dad: I hear what you are saying regarding her beginning to speak up in Group, but what about her lack of participation in class? Her teachers tell me she is barely keeping up. And let's face it; you haven't got the most rigorous curriculum.

Coach: Which of those two areas, emotional growth or academics, is of most importance to you?

Dad: Well, I know she needs to deal with her "issues," but she needs to get a good education and get into a good college if she is to be successful.

Coach: How would you define 'successful' for me?

Dad: Well, I suppose it means having a good job, a good income, a nice home and the like.

Coach: I see. Tell me, Frank, what made you and your wife send Amber here?

Dad: Her grades went from all A's to F's and she was getting into drugs, just like her brother. In fact, she was looking up to her brother as some kind of rebel hero.

Coach: May I ask a tough question?

Dad: Uh oh. I don't like the sound of that. All right, shoot.

Coach: What are your son's chances of getting into a good college and being successful right now?

This coach avoided her natural tendency to defend her school from her client's apparent attack against its academics, and instead, employed two of the professional coach's most powerful tools: hearing what is (and isn't) said and asking powerful questions. The coach, in fact, has yet to make a single declarative statement. She is allowing the client to fully reveal his feelings and some underlying beliefs. She is also navigating through the exchange by letting answers suggest further questions.

Dad: I see what you mean, but my son is not my daughter.

Coach: Of course not. Tell me, how is Amber like her brother?

Dad: What do you mean? [long pause] Oh, you mean the drugs.

Coach: Any other ways?

Dad: Well, they are both really smart - and stupid too, I guess.

Coach: How are they 'stupid'?

Dad: With their brains they could get into a really good college.

Coach: And thereby greatly increase their chances of being successful?

Dad: That's right.

Coach: So how are they stupid?

Dad: The drugs! The drugs will ruin their futures - or worse.

Coach: [after letting in the silence] So, what has to come first, sobriety and emotional health or academics?

A coach's role is to empower the client to seek and find his own answers. The professional coach doesn't carry her own agenda into the meeting, but instead encourages the client to define the areas of focus and forward movement. This process forms the basis of the coach's navigation technique.

About the Author: Bill Valentine, Redmond OR, 541-504-4748, and his accredited coaches of Next Step Coach Training give "real life" condensed snapshots of what Coaching is about. Next Step For Success, is a parent and family coaching consortium offering nontherapeutic, skill-based support for parents of struggling teens and young adults. Next Step Coach Training offers accredited certification training for coaches.


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