Creating Transformation Through the Body
We all know that coaching is moving towards becoming less head-centric and more body-inclusive – but what does that actually look like and how do we implement our increasing somatic awareness?
In this discussion, Katie unveils coaching’s biggest fallacy and shares some of the tools she uses to transcend the old paradigm.
The art of presencing
Many people in the helping professions, including coaches, suffer from exhaustion at some point in their careers. Why is this and how can it be avoided?
Katie suggests that in order to keep our energy levels healthy, we have to stop excluding ourselves from the coaching relationship. There is a common perception that all of the coaches’ attention must be on the client, but this cuts us off from ourselves, meaning that we are expending energy without simultaneously refuelling.
“Presencing” – the ability to be connected to yourself in the present context – allows you to be with change whilst being with yourself, enabling your full participation. When we add in the client, we practice what Katie refers to as the “loop of awareness”. This allows you to continue presencing yourself while at the same time being deeply present with your client.
Part of the value in this is that you get to continue to expand and develop your own awareness and experience while serving your client, so that your coaching comes from an overflow of your own aliveness, not a depleting of it. This state is a source of abundance.
Creating the magic
Whatever context we’re in there’s always some kind of structure. When we’re relating, this translates into a mutual awareness of how that relating happens; the parameters of it, the guidelines, the norms of that type of relationship.
In coaching we may have some structural norms that don’t serve aliveness, for example, “It’s all about the client”, “Don’t say anything about yourself” etc. These lead to the shutting down of your connection to Self, meaning that a valuable source of information is not available to you.
Most importantly, the magic that is possible in a coaching session comes from collaboration; the coach gives their attention and simultaneously requests the client’s – the mix of that attention is what sparks the magic.
In the loop of awareness, the space includes both you and the client; together you create what is starting to become known as a “we-space”. The joy of resonating, of connecting leaves you feeling more vital than when you started, meaning that you are in fact being of service to everyone (including yourself). This is radically different from the old model of being of service at the expense of yourself.
From head-centric to body-inclusive
For a long time now, our culture has over-valued the intellect. To evolve to the next level in our coaching ability, we need to transcend this limiting focus.
In her work with clients, Katie uses techniques that allow insight to happen very quickly because they’re rooted in the body (which doesn’t hold anything superfluous); if it’s present in the body it’s still present for you. We can, for example, teach clients to “bodify” their experience – to express through the body what they feel, which usually leads to a breakthrough within minutes.
The signals from a clients’ body (Katie calls them “flags”) can act as clues that something is ready to be explored – being open to perceiving these is a big step in moving away from head-centric coaching.
The 4 main types of flags are:
- Breathing (I might notice I’ve stopped breathing and then notice the client has too and ask what just happened)
- Movement (the client touches or moves a body part)
- Verbal (clearing of throat or repetition)
- Postural (the way the client holds themselves or changes posture)
The quickest way to change your mind is to change your body, so when working with a client we can use the flags as a kind of portal to help them in creating a new way of engaging with the relevant issue.
Another tool Katie uses to be less head-centric is her presence-connect-play model: check in and see what’s going on in the moment; connect to other; playfully explore what arises. This allows us to follow our natural inclination and activates our creativity.
Referenced in discussion:
The drama triangle