In addition to being a career coach, I am also an artist, and I have found a way to combine these things to create a unique form of visual coaching. I wanted to share with you how I developed this approach, the impact it has on clients and my thoughts on the power of bringing more of ourselves into our coaching.
Last year, through my own coaching experience, I was exploring a way to bring more of myself into my coaching practice and to be more authentic as a coach. I am an artist, and I wanted to find a way to combine my passion for art with my coaching. Also, I had recently studied an art therapy foundation course, which emphasized the power of art for me on so many levels.
I experimented with finding different visual ways to capture what had happened after each coaching session, and I then started to share these with my clients. The responses I got were really surprising and led me to develop the way I work now.
After each session, I paint a picture based on the energy, themes and feelings I have felt and observed in my client. These can be anything from reproducing something they have visualized in the session, an image that comes to mind when I reflect on the session or even something abstract that is purely feelings based. I will send the picture through to my client by email the next day and ask them to let me know their initial reflections. I don’t analyze these myself; it feels to me to purely be an extension of our role as to reflect back what we see.
I then use these with my clients in our coaching. I bring them out at the beginning of each session to reflect on further, at points in the coaching when it feels like they could help my client (it’s a bit like bringing out a tool from your coaching toolkit when it feels appropriate), and in the last session to review the whole coaching journey together.
I have been using this approach for eight months now, and the results have been amazing. When I talk about it to others, it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end! My clients say that the images really capture the essence of the sessions for them—they can tap back into the energy of the session by looking at the picture, and they often bring up really intense and powerful feelings.
They see different things in the images each time they look at them, so they are living, breathing images; rather like looking at yourself from a different perspective as coaching enables you to do. When they look back at these images, whether it is a few weeks or a few months later, they can see the progress they have made. And I love the fact some of my clients have shown the images to their partners and friends and been able to say “this is how I feel” without having to put it into words.
My first ever experience of coaching was great. I had a one-off complimentary session with my parent’s business coach when I was in my 20s. After that session, I felt I could achieve anything, and it was very powerful. That feeling didn’t last. I remember thinking at the time “it would be amazing if you could bottle that feeling.”
What I do with my art, in a way, is to bottle the session and the feelings from it—they are captured in my drawings. I think sometimes it feels like our options are limited to offering notes or a written summary to our clients after a session (if in fact we give them anything at all), but there can be other ways to sum up sessions.
I’m not saying that we can all work in the way I do—I am able to work in this way because I am an artist and the artwork I do for myself is very intuitive and based on my own feelings—but we all have things in our life we are passionate about, our own skills or experiences that are unique to us, that could really benefit our clients. It is about being bold and having the courage to try these things out.
My advice for others is to not be afraid to bring more of yourself into the coaching and to be inventive and creative as to how. When you do, as I have seen, great things can happen, and you can provide your clients with a much more valuable experience as a result.
Art Credit: Jane Beinart
Jane Beinart is an artist and visual career coach, with a passion for personal development and a background in learning and development and the arts. She helps people to feel happier and more fulfilled in their job or career, whether that is making small changes such as tweaking their working hours or learning how to work with that difficult colleague, or big changes such as deciding on a new career direction. Learn more at www.thelifeiwantcoaching.co.uk.
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