What is brain-based coaching and what is special about it?

Having completed a fascinating and rigorous brain-based coaching certification program through David Rock’s NeuroLeadership Group, I thought I’d share some of the key things I have learned and use this opportunity to address questions I have received.

1)       “Facilitating positive changes by improving thinking” is how brain-based coaching is defined.  The emphasis is on positive, focused, change and helping people think better, versus  telling them what to do.

2)      Questions used in brain-based coaching center on helping a coachee to clarify their thinking about a solution.

3)      Brain insights – The brain is amazing! There are no two brains that are alike and how we solve problems varies. In addition, it is practically impossible to deconstruct our wiring. This explains why focusing on our problems just causes us to become mired, while focusing on solutions creates solutions!  Thankfully, creating new wiring is quite easy!

4)      “Toward  vs. Away”- This was one of my biggest “Ahas” and I love to share the concept with clients. The limbic system of our brains is constantly classifying information into things that either help us or hurt us. Positive things create a positive “Toward” or “Reward” response and more negative things create an “Away” or “Threat” response in our brains.

  •  When working on inspiring goals, using a “Toward” focus is very important in creating goals that we are actually motivated to pursue. It is simple, but very powerful. Example: “I need to exercise daily to lower my high blood pressure by ten points” How inspiring is that? How about “I will enjoy being more fit while I take my dogs for a walk four times per week”. Better?  Subtle differences are critical to our thinking and motivation!

5)      SCARF Model – David Rock created a model which explains five domains – Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. When working 1:1 with clients in brain-based coaching, we look carefully at how these domains impact triggers and powerful responses in our brains.  When these five domains are threatened, we physically react the same way we would to a pain or physical threat! This model has very important implications, especially for those directly leading others.

6)      Insight – Brain-based coaching helps coachees to develop insight in a specialized way. Thinking questions are used in a manner that helps a coachee to become more self-aware.  Example, “How important is this issue to you, on a scale of one to ten?”  Or, “What do you ultimately want to achieve here?”

7)      Inspiring Goals – Brain-based coaching uses a planned approach to brainstorm and create measurable goals, strategies and action plans, that as previously mentioned, are “Towards” and motivating for the coachee. Polished, inspiring goals are used as the key focus to achieving desired results.

8)      Various techniques – Labeling, reappraisal, mindfulness, and opening/closing techniques are also used in brain-based coaching to help calm the limbic system and to allow for more insights and progress toward desired outcomes. These are too complex to explain in this brief newsletter, but they are important techniques that are vital part of a brain-based approach.

9)      Various Assessments – Assessments such as Hogan, MBTI, StrengthsFinder, and 360 leadership assessments provide excellent insight for the coach and coachee and these assessments are excellent supplements that I will continue to use in brain-based coaching sessions. Knowing oneself is an important part of being authentic and effective.

10)   ICF Competencies – Brain-based coaching incorporates the understanding and use of the over-arching core competencies of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). I am completing the final steps of the ICF accreditation and fully align my coaching with these important competencies.

This provides a high-level view into brain-based coaching and what makes it different from other coaching methodologies.  There are many interesting, fascinating and powerful nuances and differences in this system and this article provides only a limited peek into how our brains impact our behaviors and our results. For more information, you may want to visit: www.neuroleadership.com.

I am passionate about coaching and very excited to share these techniques and processes with others. When I partner with others in a coaching capacity, I consider it an honor and privilege to share in their learning journey. These techniques are great for anyone wanting to accomplish personal and professional goals and powerful results.  If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of brain-based coaching, please contact me. Wishing you the best in your learning journey!