Coaching to the Spirit and Soul
Alan Sieler (2005) uses the term Ontological Coaching to describe a way of work that encompasses the entire being of the client. Counseling and coaching the client’s sprit and soul involves looking at the deepest level of one’s identity, one’s discovery of meaning in one’s actions, and one’s belief in and alignment with something greater than one’s own ego or personality. It can involve seeking redemption for one’s past unskillful actions, committing to act skillfully in the present moment, and making intentions for one’s future actions. Earlier in this article we discussed how, in this secular age, psychotherapy had become a modern ritual with deep links to confession. Coaching, psychotherapy and religious counseling may address transgresses in past behavior and can point to a form of atonement, be it through adopting skillful changes in your behavior or through reciting ten Hail Mary’s. However, those past transgresses are not so interesting for a coach. Coaching orients itself to the future, and is not very concerned with past sins. It focuses on what is most meaningful right now in the client’s life. It seeks to focus on an individual’s unique values: but the boundaries between values and morals can become quite clouded at times. Often it is hard to distinguish between doing what you should do, because it is the right thing to do, and doing what you want to do because it is a manifestation of your deepest truth.
A minister, rabbi, cleric, priest or spiritual guide usually has an established set of beliefs and codes of behavior to operate from when doing such an exploration with a member of his or her flock. Psychotherapists have a unified body of psychological work from which they can draw their insights and strategies when digging into the more spiritual and epistemological regions of the client’s experience.
Coaches are on their own. The only guidebook the coach has is the client’s own experience, values, beliefs, and the vision and goals that clients set for themselves. If the client’s concerns are entirely secular, and if the client only wishes to focus on practical issues and material goals, then that will be the level where the coaching remains. If, however (perhaps after a gentle nudge from the coach) the client does want to explore more transpersonal issues about the meaning of their life and the nature of their soul and the universe, then the coach does not become a spiritual leader, pointing the way. Rather he or she follows the lead of the client, as they wander into this new territory of inquiry and self-discovery.
In the future, the coaching profession has a lot to contribute to pastors, rabbis, priests, clerics and other religious and spiritual counselors and teachers on how to incorporate inquiry into their spiritual counseling. This guidance-from-within approach could potentially meld with the more traditional guidance-from-above.Download Article 1K Club