Within a coaching session the coach creates a dialogue within the coaching conversation which creates rapport, safety and encouragement for the coachee. What am I referring to when I mention the holding space element of this very individualised work? What is a holding space? I will share with you how these manifest within my coaching and supervision for both 1–1 or group sessions.
Along my journey of supporting people, coaching and supervision; the environment we create for our clients/coachees becomes the conduit for the work around change that is happening for the individuals that we are working with. Inside this conversation, we are constantly looking at how we as coaches are managing our interventions whilst being tuned in to what the clients are offering within their engagement. We are scanning for reactions and expectations as a key indicator of the beautiful dynamic and choreagraphed dance that is coaching. It is bespoke, responsive, motivational and held within how the coach views their client and has their best intentions at the core of the work. It is also unique to each coach in how they develop their own style of interaction.
To facilitate this positive, holding space for a client, a coach needs to view their client non-judgmentally, without any agenda other than listening, having an open questioning approach whilst noting barriers both within the client and also any that they see within themselves (this can be further unpicked within reflection or within a supervision session).
The holding space represents a warm, kind, respectful space, where the pace of the session is of the client’s choosing, where there is a responsiveness to what the client is sharing and the client is relaxed within the process.
There are joint gains within the intimacy of this 1–1 or group work that facilitates safety for the client/’s to be honest, where ownership of the focus is taken up and worked with, where fear can be contained, managed and worked through to find actions to address the fear.
It is a safe space that is wholly the client’s which potentially could be their first experience of exclusivity around what is important to them to talk about and build upon whilst feeling they are valid.
For me as the facilitator, I take away a feeling of deep connection with another human being, a sense of understanding of what their drivers or triggers are, the sense of a shared journey with/for that individual and the value in that person trusting me within this process. I feel the flow of the coaching process as a freeing agent to other options, to seeing space where there is clutter, to gain positivity even within adverse situations and to be beside another person whilst they learn and grow.
An example of where I saw my work facilitating a holding space was with a parent that I had been working with who was seen by other professionals as not fully supporting her 2 children and being disorganised within their family home which resulted in poor living circumstances for all the family. Within my intervention work, I had to write a report with her about what she needed to change. building a way of working that the parent felt safe within, we looked for areas that she saw she were successful within her parenting, focusing on her love for her children and the outcomes she sought for them. This was a difficult time for her and she felt very vulnerable and judged. My duty was to share the report with her and I mentioned many positive elements of her parenting within the report. (There were areas of need that required further input). Her response to reading positive comments were tears as she had labelled herself a bad parent and had never heard anything positive about herself within this role. This parent,even though she was in a tough situation, having incorporated this new insight of herself, worked incredibly hard to build better strategies into her life for both herself and her children. She was not perfect and it was a very rocky road, yet she had gained a different perspective and this added aspiration to her life and her behaviours.
The holding space supports the client feel seen and heard whilst also able to find their own level of how they want to look at their lives and what they may wish to change.