Last weekend I experienced a transformational event. I spent two days at the Doubletree Hotel in Santa Monica and received my certificate as a Life Coach. Sixteen hours, including 8 hours of practice in Motivational Interviewing. I never heard of that term until last Saturday. I’m still not sure what it means but I liked what it did to my mind.
Curious yet? Maybe some of you just completely dropped out, but for those of you who stay turn to my blog, it may encourage you to re-wire your brain a bit and think differently when having a conversation with someone near and dear to you.
Let me explain the difference between a life coach and a therapist or counselor. It’s real simple: you don’t seek out a life coach when you are in crisis or feeling like you are losing your mind; you seek out a life coach when you are in transition in life – like you are thinking of quitting a job and running off to Bali to sculpt, or you want to start another business in Kuala Lumpur, or you are stuck in your life and you need motivation or inspiration to take action (as in exercise or diet or finding a hobby, or moving forward with a man or woman in your life). You wouldn’t go to a Life Coach in the middle of a divorce – maybe 3 months after a divorce when you are really ready for change – or 2 years after the divorce when you are drinking too much and watching too many reality programs.
Motivational Interviewing is a coaching practice of individual discovery, which elicits from clients an uncomfortable situation they are currently experiencing. The coach uses two very important tools with the client during his/her discovery: reflecting back to the client what is expressed (there are several different kinds of reflection techniques) and asking open ended question (no “yes” or “no” answers, please), and perhaps intermittently affirming the client’s feelings/emotions when it is appropriate. This is the stage when it remind me of combing through a really thick head of hair for several hours and straightening out the tangles.
The agony and the ecstasy of opening ended questions: how exasperating it is to come up with one that reflects the client’s state of being; how joyful when one of those open ended questions elicit more information, more feeling, more dialogue. Victory!
The next step involves creating a design for action for clients. There is a questionnaire for work/life balance that is awesome. When I was the client, it was an amazing revelation to discover what areas of my life I needed to put more energy into, what areas of I was content to leave alone for now, what areas were working or not working for me.
Finally, oh, finally, after the discovery and the design, an action plan is developed for the client. And the coach gives the client homework during the weekly sessions so that there will be progress for the client.
My brain was fried Sunday evening when I left the Doubletree. After playing client and coach for 8 hours, I couldn’t tell which was which and who was who. I wanted to cry and cry and cry and I did. It wasn’t supposed to be therapy, but just asking questions of oneself can be a motivator to developing clarity. Thank God some things still work in life to balance our beings.