Coaching Report

2014 April Coaching Report

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2014 April Coaching Report

I had the pleasure a few months ago of interviewing psychologist Steven Rollnick who co-founded the field of Motivational Interviewing (MI) with Bill Miller in the late 1980s, spawned from having “horrific experiences” in the addiction treatment field. The MI model has evolved considerably over 25 years leading to the 3rd edition of their book reviewed this month for ICPA members. The interview recording and transcript are also available to ICPA members. Here are some highlights:

  1. MI is broadening its scope from behavior change to any conversation about any kind of change (emotions, mindsets, or behaviors), as well as adding a planning and goal setting process.
  2. MI founders wish to disseminate MI skills wide and far, crossing boundaries, professions, cultures, settings including healthcare and criminal justice, and leadership in the future.
  3. MI emerged from practical clinical experience with roots in client-centered counseling – basically how to have an effective conversation about change. Now MI leaders are cross-fertilizing with leaders of theoretical platforms, which don’t focus on a relational dynamic, including the transtheoretical model and self-determination theory.
  4.  MI researchers are starting to evaluate what goes on in a change conversation that promotes or impairs change. For example, in health-related conversations, an empathic style works better than a confrontational style.
  5. Core MI skills include a high level of listening by an uncluttered mind. While healthcare providers complain that they don’t have time, in fact in the end intent listening saves time. It’s important to slow down – to quote the horse whisperer – if you act like you’ve got all day, it will take 15 minutes; if you act like you’ve only got 15 minutes it will take all day.
  6. While MI skills, including empathy, uncluttered listening, slowing down, as well as reflections and conveying a belief in a client’s ability to change, can seem simple, they are not easy to put into practice and do masterfully.

This interview with Dr. Rollnick is a great reminder that while coaches are ever-learning and expanding our toolboxes, it’s ever-wise to circle back and deepen the basics, e.g. mindfulness (making moments large), compassion, listening, inquiry, reflections and an unshakeable belief in our clients’ potential.




From Research to Practice

Motivational Coaching: A Functional Juxtaposition of Three Methods for Health Behaviour Change: Motivational Interviewing, Coaching, and Skilled Helping by Courtney Newnham-Kanas et al, International Journal of Evidenced Based Coaching and Mentoring, Vol 8 No 2 August 2010

Special Thanks to Deborah Elbaum, MD for reviewing this research and translating the key points to use in your coaching practice.

As coaches, we are often asked what coaching involves and what makes it different from other modalities of health behavior change. Recognizing that health care professionals need effective ways to motivate and support people working toward long-lasting behavioral changes, Newnhawn-Kanas et. al. explored the similarities and differences among three motivational change methods: Co-Active coaching (as taught by Coaches Training Institute), Motivational Interviewing, and Egan's Skilled Helper Model. In Co-Active coaching, clients are assumed to be naturally creative, resourceful, and whole; coach and client partner to help the client move forward in an empowered way. Motivational Interviewing (MI) focuses on addressing the client's behavior and ambivalence as a way to increase his or her intrinsic motivation to change. Egan's Skilled Helper Model (SHM) emphasizes empowerment; clients work through three stages of questions to become more effective at managing both problems and opportunities.

In comparing these three methods, the authors focused on the following areas: the role and creation of the therapeutic alliance; the role of the client, how the client is perceived, and which aspects of the client's life are involved in the process; how each session's agenda is determined; and how the client's need and readiness for change is addressed.

Overall, coaching, MI, and SHM incorporate largely similar core principles, beliefs, and processes. The main differences that surfaced involve:

  • The training -- Individuals trained in MI and SHM are most often health care professionals. In contrast, Co-Active coaches come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds.
  • The specific terminology and methodology of each technique
  • The perceived stigma -- Life coaching is often viewed in a more acceptable light than counseling, because it is less likely to be associated with healing a person's dysfunction.

Incorporating the key aspects of coaching, MI, and SHM, the authors created and proposed a new model of Motivational Coaching to help people change their behavior.

As you reflect on your coaching practice, what do you see as critical in working with clients to make and sustain health behavior changes?


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