The Gestalt Approach - Effortless coaching

22nd February by John Leary-Joyce

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‘Change occurs when you become who you are’ - Gestalt Paradox of Change

The coachee has all the answers is the premise on which all coaching is based. A traditional solutions-focused, cognitive behavioural approach requires a lot of effort to investigate, question, analyse, understand, and plan a route to the solution.

The Gestalt approach, by contrast, believes an ideal outcome will emerge from releasing the emotional entanglement that blocks the natural flow to problem solving.

You know that your best ‘performance’ in coaching, or any other activity, occurs when you free yourself from grappling with that internal critical voice and allow yourself to just be in the moment.

A familiar and simple example in your practice is active listening - the corner stone of coaching. You are just present, attending to your coachee and reflecting back their reality as they disclose it in the moment. No effort for both parties but a lot of courage to stay-with and acknowledge the confusion, uncertainty, anxiety, discomfort, maybe pain in that not-knowing space.

Traditionally we feel compelled to ‘make it better’, to move quickly to ‘fix it’ - jump in with powerful questions to help find the resolution.

But the resolution is already unfolding in front of you, through this effortless active listening, change is already occurring. The Gestalt approach is to harness that courageous disclosure and invite further exploration. You learned this in class 101 “Tell me more” but generally forget its potency. Gestalt goes further and invites a full awareness of the experience surrounding the problem.

While this exploration is effortless, it requires real skill and courage to hold the other in that ‘safe emergency’ space, to allow them to untangle the knot themselves to find alignment and flow again.

Our sincere thanks to John Leary-Joyce for this insight into gestalt coaching. If you are keen to find out more John facilitates the Gestalt Coaching Skills Foundation programme with AoEC and now offers the programme as well as an Advanced level programme through his new company Gestalt Coach Training.