10 Reasons why Neuroscience Adds Value to Coaching

It's such an exciting time to be a coach. The world continually becomes more complex, brimming over with noise and stimulation flooding our senses and increasing the load on our brains. In the middle of this chaotic, inspiring, busy world sit our clients, full of challenges, possibilities and options. They seek coaches for a multitude of reasons to make sense of their place in the world and to work out how to stop being stuck.

Coaches now have new insights, tools, wisdom and knowledge from neuroscience at our disposal to help our clients take a peek inside their brains. But how does this add value?

Neuro-nonsense or neuro-value?

Every day we are all bombarded with neuro-nonsense in newspapers, blogs, social media and magazines where a research conclusion has been distorted and misinterpreted as the truth. However, also every day across the world, neuroscientists, psychologists and behavioural scientists are on the point of discovering something new about the human brain, new insights that can help us all become more aware and develop further - it's really helpful!

Neuroscience is now paving the way for deepening the scientific understanding of human behaviour and psychology beyond the clinical setting. The last 20 years have shone an ever-brightening light on this emerging area with scanning technology improvements and has opened up exciting possibilities for all of us interested in the development of self and others.

OK but so what?

As coaches, we have successfully helped our clients for years, seeing them reach their goals, helping them to become un-stuck, make valuable changes, become more self-aware, happier, more productive and successful. How does this new layer of knowledge add value to what is already working well? How does it make coaching an even better experience for both coach and client?

Here are ten reasons to climb on board.

1: Neuroscience tells us that every brain is unique and therefore every client is unique. Intellectually we know this, but the science anchors that for us. Coaching is not generalised, it is bespoke, individual to each client giving rise to infinitely different conversations, insights and options. Learning about their unique brain can help clients to give themselves permission to be their authentic selves and to learn to appreciate their exclusive combination of strengths.

2: Humans are innately curious beings and people want to understand what is going on inside their heads. When they understand that their brain is part of their stuck state and they can unpick and learn about the science behind it, then it can open them up, giving their problems a voice and a space for resolution. Having a physiological explanation can unlock new ideas for working through their challenges.

3: Coaching exposes the brain to learning and opens new pathways. Engaging in coaching discussions can turn on neural pathways for self-reflection and discovery building a new habit for development, experimentation and learning.

4: Neuroscience introduces a layer of different, helpful language providing scope for deeper questioning or conversation. Examples include using scientific language: "what can you do now to give yourself a dopamine boost?" or metaphors to paint a new landscape: "tell me why your brain is so full".

5: Approaching their change work from a scientific rather than a behavioural perspective can help some clients to commit more deeply to their coaching conversations. Some people only measure success by tangible, results and fact-based outcomes so an empirical, scientific approach can build more trust in the "soft stuff" and therefore energy to engage.

6: Similarly, for some clients, working with neuroscience adds substance and credibility to the coaching process itself. An empirical underpinning can legitimise the work of coaches, enabling clients to give coaching the same respect as they would afford other business programmes.

7: Providing the layer of neuroscience safely opens up a route to surface and discuss emotions. Understanding the evolutionary development of the brain, the importance of emotional, instinctive senses and the huge proportion of neurons in the more ancient subcortical brain regions has added a dimension of relief and permission with a number of my clients.

8: A discussion about the brain helps a client to keep an open mind as it broadens the scope of the conversation, rather than narrowing it down. There are multiple contexts in which parts of the brain play a role. Neuroscience therefore keeps the client in a questioning mode, continually creating the opportunity for further exploration and discovery.

9: As coaches, we are in the business of neuroplasticity. Understanding that the brain can re-wire, opening up new access routes, strengthening existing pathways and dampening non-serving ones can be liberating. Clients realise that not only is change possible but also that there are many potential options to move out of their stuck space.

10: Finally, neuroscience helps us as coaches to remain authentic, true to ourselves, affording us additional self-awareness of our own unique strengths and allowing us to surface blind spots.

As there is so much yet to discover in this fascinating area, both clients and coaches alike will continue to question, learn, explore and grow long into the future. To learn more, keep connected via our website or on Linked In where we post regularly.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

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