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Grief Coaching as a Powerful Relationship

Grief coaching is a powerful human relationship in which trained coaches assist people to design their future after a loss rather than get over their past. Through a typically long-term relationship, coaches aid clients in creating visions and goals for all aspects of their lives, as well as multiple strategies to support achieving those goals. Coaches recognize the brilliance of each client and their personal power to discover their own solutions when provided with support, accountablility, and unconditional positive regard (Williams & Davis,2002).



]includes an in-depth discussion of "Listening as a Grief Coach," a

discussion of the language specific to coaching, and the human develop-mental theories that underpin the coach's understanding of clients at various phases and stages of development. These sections offer general principles that apply to most coaching situations and approaches.If you are familiar with coaching, you are likely to reencounter here the basic principles that you are already aware of. We hope that you also discover something new that will enrich your way of thinking about and practicing coaching. For us, the usefulness of human developmental theories as a way of informing the context of coaching has been a more recent area of discovery, one that we have added in the last 5 years.


Kafka understood the value of paying close attention. Listening is a deceptively simple skill that's often overlooked in its power. Listening as a grief coach is very different from normal, everyday listening. Even when done extraordinarily well, common conversational listening lacks the intentional focus the coach brings to the coaching conversation. The coach listens with a very different quality of attention that includes an impulse to be of service (without having an agenda aside from listening carefully for what "wants" to happen).


As Carl Rogers demonstrated, active listening, accompanied by unconditional positive regard, supports clients in making tremendous positive changes. The grief coach's ability to be fully present to the client, patiently listening, communicates fundamental acceptance of the client.This quality of listening and acceptance allows the client to be vulnerable in sessions. Clients seldom experience the patient listening from others that they receive from their coaches. This explains why coaching can feel therapeutic, even though coaching definitely is not therapy.


Coaches often refer to this as creating a sacred space or an inspiring space in which the client experiences the impact of powerful listening.This space supports the client's personal unfolding. If lapses occur in the grief coach's ability to listen with patience and undeniable focus, or to create an inspiring space, the client's trust will erode


Major Mistakes Grief Coaches Make


Lapses in being present and patiently listening can take these forms:


Interrupting clients or speaking as soon as clients finish a sentence; allowing no space for clients to hear themselves, to feel the impact of what they have said.


Beginning to speak while clients finish the last few words of a sentence-this doesn't allow clients the choice to continue and elaborate.



Attending superficially, missing signals provided by the clients' tone of voice or body language


Breaking eye contact or doodling during a face-to-face session.


Multitasking, with sounds clients hear during phone coaching.


Random or fidgety movements unrelated to clients' statements that grow out of the coaches' interior thoughts or feelings.


Helping professionals in a wide variety of fields use listening skills as an integral aspect of their work. Helping professionals know how valuable it can be to simply listen and focus their attention on a client.However, coaches listen in unique ways that support the goals of the coaching relationship and maximize opportunities for achieving those goals. Listening forms the cornerstone of coaching, just as it remains the bedrock for every human relationship. Like every professional with extensive education, training, and experience, we develop habits as listeners. Most helping professionals listen instinctively for the client's feelings, and just as instinctively they reflect, probe, and work with the client toward therapeutic change. As coaches, we listen for the client's feelings, too. However, we pay equal attention to other domains of the client's life.

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