Coach's Corner
Jul 16, 2008, 09:33

by Bill Valentine PsyD, CC

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 can be either an alternative to residential placement, 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 on coaching (news, research, essays, articles etc.) from anyone.

One of the most effective uses of a parent coach is to assist unsure parents in the difficult decision to place - or not to place - their child in a wilderness or long-term residential program. By employing the coaching model of building on inherent strengths, setting clear goals and expectations and empowering the client to be accountable for their decisions, the coach can help mitigate the emotions in a highly emotional decision.

Coach: I understand your educational consultant has advised placing Justin in a wilderness program. How do you feel about that?
Mom: Oh, I just don't know what to do. Justin is becoming more than a single mother can handle. Still, it seems so heartless to send him away.
Coach: I can hear the pain in your voice. Tell me what Justin is doing that is making him so difficult.
Mom: Ever since his dad and I divorced, he has been surly, he stays out past curfew, and his grades are going down because he blows off his homework.
Coach: I see, and what have you been doing about this behavior?
Mom: Well, like I said, I feel like I can't handle this much more. I try to make him do his homework, I stay up late waiting for him to come home and I repeatedly ask him to treat me with respect.
Coach: You have been trying to be Mom and Dad. It sure isn't easy being the single parent of a teenager. May I share an observation with you?
Mom: Please do.
Coach: You seem to be working much harder at this than your son. What if we made it his decision whether he stays in your home or goes to the wilderness?
Mom: What??!! He will never agree to go to a program.
Coach: Maybe not, but by clearly spelling out your requirements for him to live in your house and what the consequences are for violating the home agreements, he will have to make choices whether to follow the rules or suffer the consequences.
Mom: So how do I go about this?
Coach: We can work together to draw up a Home Contract that spells out rules, consequences and incentives for compliance. We'll then engage Justin to get his input but there will be some non-negotiables. What do you want them to be?
Mom: Well, being respectful and coming home on time for starters.
Coach: Excellent! Not doing his homework has natural consequences that he should have to deal with, not you. And may I add that the ultimate consequence of being sent to wilderness if he is consistently ignoring or breaking the rules should also be non-negotiable.
Mom: I get it! By not hedging or negotiating in the beginning, Justin will know ahead of time what his bad choices will bring him.
Coach: That's right. And you will have given him the chance to demonstrate what he is willing and able to do to stay in your home.

This coach has empowered the client, and though he may not understand it - Justin as well, by making each accountable for that which they can control. The coach will have to work closely with Mom to help her through the stressful times and conflicts that are bound to occur. By having a "contract" in place and a coach to support her, this overwhelmed parent can teach her son, and herself, the power of personal choices.

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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