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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: Aug 20, 2008, 05:05

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By Bill Valentine PsyD, CC

Coaching is about change. Coaching is forward-facing, strength-based and action-oriented. This is the mantra of the professional coach. However, for many of our clients - parents of struggling teens and young adults - the prospect of making major changes in how they parent creates anxiety, confusion and paralysis. This is when the coach can help break down a seemingly insurmountable obstacle into achievable components. The following is a paraphrasing of a recent conversation one of our coaches had with a parent whose child was soon to transition home from a wilderness program.

Coach: How are you feeling about Jackie coming home?
Client: Frankly, I'm terrified.
Coach: What scares you the most?
Client: I'm afraid she is going to come home and nothing will have changed.
Coach: Has anything changed?
Client: Well, her counselor says she has learned more about herself and has a lot of new tools for controlling her behavior.
Coach: And what have you changed?
Client: What do you mean? I'm not the one who needed to go to a wilderness program.
Coach: Maybe not, but what do you suppose will happen if Jackie comes home with all these new tools and nothing has changed at home; or more to the point, with you.
Client: Yes, yes, I know. But, she was completely out of control; her own and mine. What happens if she comes home the same way she left?
Coach: What is the thing you want most for you and your daughter?
Client: That we have the warm, open relationship we had when she was a little girl.
Coach: And since we can only change our part of any relationship, what can you do to bring back your part of that warm, open relationship?
Client: Oh my, that was so long ago, and there has been an awful lot of water under our bridge. We both have said hurtful things and she seems so distant now. I just don't know what I can do to change things.
Coach: Well let's start with four questions for you to consider when Jackie comes home:

  1. What would you like to avoid?

  2. What do you want to keep and enhance?

  3. What would you have to let go of?

  4. What would you have to change?

Use these questions as homework before our next session. Focus your thinking around how things used to be, how they were just before Jackie went to wilderness and how you would like them to be when she comes home. And remember, you can only change yourself, you canít change other people.

It is important to note that the coach didnít get swept up in the drama, the fears and, to some extent, the denial of the client. Keeping the client focused on an area of primary importance helps to remove the negative chatter in her mind while giving her positive, forward-facing direction. At the next session, the coach and client will reexamine and reinforce the clientís strong desire for a warm, open relationship with her daughter and, with that goal in mind, engage in specific action planning.

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 non-therapeutic, 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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