Coaching is not therapy

Have you ever been hesitant to coach emotions because you don’t want to overstep your role as a coach or leader? If so, I’m glad you’re thinking critically about the boundaries of your role, and I’m here to tell you that you can coach emotions in an appropriate and responsible way. You just need to know your role.

As a coach, your role is to hold space for your coachee to have emotions and to share with you if they want. You don’t need to probe about where the emotional experiences come from–but you can invite reflection.

There’s a fine line to explore here. When inviting reflection, you might say, “I hear that that interaction with that student’s parent brought up strong feelings in you. Tell me more about what came up at that moment and how you understood what happened.” This is different from saying, “I hear that that interaction with that student’s parent raised strong feelings in you. How do you think your experience with your own parents affected how you responded?” 

A coach doesn’t dig into someone’s psyche or childhood. A coach acknowledges emotions, creates space for them, and offers space for reflection. If a teacher takes that reflection into their childhood experiences, a coach might carefully redirect the conversation. That can sound like this, “I hear that your interaction with your student’s parent caused you to reflect on your own experience with your father and his anger. It sounds like you might have some more learning to do about your childhood and some healing to do. Where do you think you might be able to do that? Who might be able to support you with that?” You might even say, “I really care about you and I’m recognizing that as your coach I don’t have the skill set to discuss what you’re raising. It sounds like someone with knowledge and expertise about psychology would be helpful. I want you to get your needs met. Where do you think that could happen?”

And while it’s important to know when to redirect and have the ability to do so, most of the time holding space for the emotions is enough. And it’s essential if you’re committed to being a Transformational Coach. If you’re ready to grow your capacity to do so, join my Art of Coaching Emotions workshop. I think you’ll love it. And I know you’ll learn a lot! 

“I was hopeful this workshop would give me context, language, and tools for initiating and staying in conversations about equity, that I would walk away with some action-based next steps, and that I would better understand and be able to articulate my own experiences and emotions while making space for others’. It did ALL this and more!”

Rachel F.