Coaching & Neuroscience

As Professional Coaches, we are experts at change.   Each coaching session I construct is a frame for effectiveness by having my Client clarify his or her agenda to take ownership of the session.  I then, carefully guide my Clients through an effective process of understanding a specific plan.   The Client experiences mastery and this model is repeated until its becomes a template for the client.   Professional Coaching meets the needs people have always had and offers a new delivery system for mentorship, co-creative work, and a sense of possibility.

So why is change so difficult?   Well, part of the answer to this question lies on our brains.   We as coaches must understand the mind, brain and dynamics of change to help our Clients with i.e. constructing a new life mission statement, with possibility thinking, with patterns of new learning.   This is why having a general knowledge of Neuroscience can be a transformational tool that we coaches can use to help people achieve a wide range of goals in the present and the future.

6 Catalysts for Change from Within

Coaching is a cooperative relationship and like, most relationships, it is more successful when each person in the relationship understands the other.  My knowledge of brain science helps me understand my clients’ experiences and behavior more accurately, this in turn illuminates, how I can best support them in their change process.

Neuroscience helps us coaches develop tools and strategies that are consistent with the principles of brain functioning.  This makes them easy to digest…brain-friendly, rather than brain antagonistic.   Neuroscience’s easier-on-the-brain approach facilitates changes in key areas of growth and mastery including:

  • Mindfulness
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-motivation
  • Resilience
  • Optimism
  • Self-Efficacy

7 Principles of Brain-Based Psychotherapy

In 2005, researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine outlined seven principles of brain-based psychotherapy.  What’s interesting is how these principles apply beyond the world of psychotherapy,  Any time a person is seeking to make a lasting change, they can benefit from a coach such as myself with an understanding of neuroscience.

Therapy and coaching both focus on awareness and development issues.  The key distinction is that while therapy encourages awareness of past injuries in order to foster insights and promote healing from those emotional trauma, coaching, is focused on untapped possibilities that exist in the present.  With brain-based coaching, awareness becomes a catalyst to action.

  1. Nurture & Nature - genetics and environment have the power to change the structure and function of the brain.  These brain changes, in turn, influence behavior.  Each of us has a different set of genetics, environments and circumstances in our lives.  These differences make each person’s brain unique.  In order for the brain to be activated in a coaching environment, it must be approached in a highly individualized way.
  1. Experience is Transformational – An experience will either strengthen or weaken the brain’s neural connections.  Additionally, throughout our life, the brain gives birth to new neurons in a process known as neurogenesis.  These new neurons are associated with improved memory and neural plasticity and can be used to help people advance towards personal and professional success.  Coaching builds capacity rather than dependency.
  1. Memories Change – Brain circuits change in response to experiences and memories change as well. Often, a negative sense of self is developed from an autobiographical memory.   The key for a coach is to use brain-science to help clients:
  1. Mine new information from old memories
  2. Ask questions that lead to new insights
  3. Use imagination to create new neural pathways (neurogenesis)
  4. Reframe the past and future in a positive way
  1. Interconnected Processes – Memories, emotions, and feelings are interconnected, but different.  Mis-identified emotions (such as mistaking sadness for anger) can have a very real negative affect on cognitive functioning and memory storage. “Understanding neurocognitive interaction allows coach and client to explore the meanings given to sensations and reactions as a way to influence decision-making.
  1. It’s All about Relationships – The therapeutic nature of the work between coaches and clients, as well as between psychoanalytic professionals, can actually help clients modify neural systems and enhance their emotional regulations. In a ‘safe space,’ clients may even experience positive physiological responses.
  1. Experience & Imagination Are the Same to Your Brain – Research shows when you imagine physical sensations such as taste, smell, and touch, it activates the same neural pathways in your brain as a real experience.  Coaches can use this strategy to help clients envision a different life.   The feelings and emotions that go along with that vision can be powerful enough to be catalysts for real change.
  1. Keep an Eye on the Unconscious – The human brain has an amazing capacity to process information without even being aware it is doing so.  Unfortunately, those unconscious processes can lead to skewed perceptions.  Unconscious processes have a tremendous impact on thought, feeling, and action.   That’s why it is critical to ferret out any information processed unconsciously that can interfere with the coaching process.

Neuroscience is changing the way we think about human dynamics.  As coaches, we can teach our clients basic, practical principles to help them reimagine their lives, become motivated, and make change.

For additional information about neuroscience, career coaching, and personal development coaching, and to schedule a consultation, just click on Contact Me.