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What is coaching?

The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as: 

“…partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.”

Those are a lot of words. So, to simplify, Sanctus defines coaching as a confidential, safe space for you to talk about what is going on for you – in your inner experience, and your outer reality. Through this trusted relationship with your coach, you can experience a sense of emotional support, a better understanding of your context, or even walk away with insights, plans, and ideas on how to move forward in life. 

What exactly happens in a coaching session?

Usually, the client (or coachee) brings a topic, or simply themselves into the coaching session. The coach and client set up an agreement of sorts. They commit to working together with honesty, and sometimes the coach and client would together set an outcome for the session, or agree on an intention. This is of course all strictly confidential and all that is discussed remains between coach & coachee.

Then, by asking skilful questions, offering reflections, alternative perspectives and potentially using proven tools & techniques, the coach enables the client to reflect on their lives, and explore the challenge or the topic that they brought into the session.  

If the client is not sure what to talk about, they would work in partnership with their coach to make the session work for them. 

How can you get the most from coaching?

Sometimes it helps to think about different parts of our life, and where we’d like to experience a change, or improvement. Thinking about our health, habits, work, relationships, finances, emotional state – which of these need some attention? 

Where do we have difficulty? 

What feels hard? 

What would we like to change? 

Where do we get stuck? 

Once the client has given this some thought, Sanctus Coaches can help them get more traction in these spaces.

Here are some examples of how the coach may help the client to make better choices and – as the ICF states“unlock previously untapped sources…”.

Coaches offer an objective outside perspective

Coaches help us see ourselves and our lives more clearly. When you can see yourself more clearly, you have more information available to make wiser decisions.

A good swimming coach may tell their athlete that their stroke is off, that their head-tilt is off, or their breathing seems shallow. This external perspective helps the athlete to adjust their movement, pace, and rhythm to swim better. By helping the athlete see themselves from the outside, they are able to adjust their swimming towards their desired goal; whether it’s swimming faster, longer, or to manage around an injury.

Similarly, life and executive coaches offer this outside view. By sharing with the client what they are hearing, what they notice in the client’s body, or patterns they observe in the client’s behaviour, the client becomes more aware of all the different parts of themselves. This perspective shift can be a powerful tool to help them accept the current challenge, work on it, and – in time – adjust their thinking, behaviour, or relations.

A coach can bring awareness to our blind spots

Coaching sessions are great opportunities to help us see which blind spots tend to trip us up. Whether it’s a habit of neglecting your self care, or the habit of blaming others when something goes wrong, we all have patterns of behaviour that limit or restrict us in some way.

Through the coaching process, these patterns, subconscious behaviours, and unhelpful beliefs become more visible to us. When we see how we sabotage ourselves, and recognise parts of ourselves we ignore, it becomes more possible to work through these towards a better way of living. 

A coach can help us reconnect to our inner wisdom

Coaches are not teachers. Instead, coaches work from the assumption that ‘the client has the answer, wisdom, and resources available to themselves. My job is to help them connect to the resources and wisdom they already have, so they can fulfil their desires.’ 

Just like a good football coach can spot the future Ronaldo in a game of 7 year olds, a good life or executive coach can spot the potential in their clients, and help them tune into, hone, and develop that potential. 

What makes Sanctus coaching different? 

We hold the view that wellbeing is on a spectrum, rather than a binary of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ mental health. We take into account the wellbeing of the entire person, which includes their mental health. There are many facets to our wellbeing – everything from our emotional state to our personal or professional development goals. 

This view informs our coaching approach. One day you may need someone to call you out, hold you accountable and challenge you. The next day you may need someone to say “it’s okay to take a break and cut yourself some slack”. This ability to meet the client wherever they are in their mental state is at the heart of Sanctus coaching. 

We approach our clients as whole persons who are not defined by their wellbeing, mental or emotional state, professional position, their diagnosis, nor by their level of success and performance. 

When someone attends a Sanctus session, we don’t identify them primarily by their struggles or by their job titles. You are not a Stressed person; rather, you are a whole person who may, at times and to certain degrees, struggle with stress. 

This is also different to some therapies, where your therapist would diagnose you with a condition: ADHD, General Anxiety Disorder, or Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Although there is a place for labels and diagnoses, our Sanctus Coaches emphasise to work with the person, rather than a specific symptom, condition, or challenge. We hold these labels lightly, and see each person as whole, resourceful, and able. A Sanctus Coach may also ask you what these diagnoses mean to you and how you wish for them to be held in the coaching relationship.

Therefore, we don’t limit individuals only to the themes or issues in their lives. This puts people in boxes and fails to represent all the other incredible human qualities and traits they have. 

We all have days we need to drag ourselves out of bed, and other days when we conquer our inbox, crush a work out, and tick off half the to do list before 10am. Our coaches adjust their style to meet their clients where they are at. Whether it’s a more therapeutic, nurturing approach one day, or a more goal-oriented, coaching approach the next. 

By relating to our clients as whole persons, we also encourage them to show up in that way, and support them to navigate every up & down of life from a holistic, whole-person perspective.

There are four key qualities that inform how Sanctus Coaches work. You can learn more about those here.

How is Sanctus coaching different from traditional coaching?

Most personal and executive coaches are trained to help clients work towards specific outcomes and goals. They tend to focus on thinking patterns, mindsets, and limiting beliefs. But this emphasis on outcomes and goals can come at a cost. If these coaches exclude the emotional states of their client, or try to work around their client’s emotional and mental health, they can miss important parts of the work, or even do damage to the client.

It takes adequate training, experience and practice to get comfortable with someone else’s distress, sadness, anger or anxieties, and this training often doesn’t form part of traditional coach training.

Sanctus coaches, on the other hand, recognise that your feelings, mood and internal state is always part of the process. We choose our coaches for their professional range, their ability to make their clients feel safe, and their commitment to their own development. To be a Sanctus coach, you need to be creative, flexible, adaptive, and have loads of empathy. We don’t try to ‘psyche’ our clients out of depression with platitudes and positive affirmations, and we don’t expect our clients to push harder for performance if it means they’ll burn out in the end.

Even though our coaches may not be able to work directly on an issue, we know that these issues can’t simply be left outside the coaching session, or compartmentalised away from the rest of your life. We recognise that even your most personal secrets, shames, and struggles can have an impact on the rest of your life, and we invite our clients to work with their whole selves – warts & all, rather than try to pretend, perform, or deny parts of themselves.

Beyond this, our coaches have also all received ICF-approved At Risk training, ensuring they are able to support and sign-post any client who may show up with severe distress, or who may need additional support. 

The coaching and therapy markets are highly unregulated, meaning anyone can call themselves a coach or a therapist. Sanctus established one of the world’s first regulated workplace coaching offerings, bringing much-needed safety and quality to the market.