When Learning New Coaching Skills Makes You Wobble

Confused by Doors De-skilling is a common phenomenon. When we learn something new and try to integrate new knowledge into what we already know it can be more of a challenge than we anticipated. On the one hand you are a competent coach trained in a particular way of working and are comfortable with this. You then decided to add to your skill set to provide a greater service to your clients. However, the new approach looks at the world differently and requires you to think about what you do in a different way.

Therefore, it is understandable that your brain finds itself getting confused because you are probably trying to think about your client and his/her needs while you coach them but at the same time you are wondering whether something from the new approach you have learned could be helpful and how to position this.

In addition, these skills are new to you and therefore you are attempting to assess how they work, how to position your new knowledge, what to do if your client finds something difficult (e.g. is it you not presenting the skill, strategy or technique properly or, is it the client who is not responding to this particular intervention which may have nothing to do with you. In which case you need to think of what else you could do at the same time). Is it any wonder with all this going on you feel a bit lost.

Firstly, do you have access to a coaching supervisor skilled in this new approach?

If you do then coaching supervision really comes into its own as it is here with someone who understands you and how you work but also understands this new approach that you can share your concerns and gain guidance about what to do and how to do it or most importantly how to amend it if necessary. All strategies can be amended but this is not easy if you do not feel confident due to a lack of knowledge or experience. Most coaches learn to amend strategies as they go along gaining confidence and understanding of what the strategy is and how to use it. Think back to when you first learned to coach did you find yourself thinking about how to present the same reasoning or intervention to clients in different ways? Well, this is no different except that you have to do this with a new concept within a known framework which is your existing coaching model.

Give yourself time to think through introducing new ways of working with clients

For example, if you have an existing client you feel a particular strategy might be useful for, then plan how you might introduce and use this before you see the person. Not just plan but think about what you would do if the client does not seem to respond. If you do this you won’t feel caught out and will have a contingency plan. If you plan ahead and position exercises with your existing clients you will gain experience in using your new skills and will then have tried and tested exercises in a controlled manner that you can use. You will become comfortable with what you are doing and in time can add the whole range of new skills into what you have already been taught.

Perhaps the way to think about this is imagining that every new strategy is like a new tool in a toolbox

Until you become comfortable with that tool and what it does and how you can use it you will feel a little uncomfortable with understanding what it can do and how it works.

By introducing new skills slowly into your work you give yourself time to understand how to use these skills and what to do if they do not work.

An integrative way of working take times to understand. As this is the first time you have done this so it will feel a little awkward. However, if you plan, execute and then evaluate the outcome you will inevitably, in time, become more comfortable and confident. This experience will also be a learning opportunity so that in future you will have a template for integrating new skills from any approach into your way of working.

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