Home Concepts Best Practices Helping our Clients Reframe Their Circumstances

Helping our Clients Reframe Their Circumstances

6 min read

When I lived in New York City, I did a lot of work with an organization called Friends in Deed.  Friends in Deed was formed in the 1990s to help people live and die with HIV and AIDS.  The Tuesday night Big Groups were facilitated by the founder of the center, Cy O’Neal.  Cy had no formal training of any kind in psychology or coaching; she was a former actress, model, and wife of a famous actor.  But she had an uncanny ability to cut through the story and uncover the kernel of truth that was happening for the person in that moment.  Each Tuesday at 7PM about 50-60 men (it was mostly men then) would gather in the room and slowly begin to share.  When they were about halfway through their story, Cy would interrupt and say, “We don’t need much story…the quality of life is not determined by the circumstances.” How are you right now, in this moment?”

Sometimes the answer was simply, “sad,” or “angry,” or often, “scared!” Those responses were much more helpful than the story itself, in helping clients moving toward action in realizing their immediate quality of life. Cy was bringing those in the room into presence.

As a coach, I rely on my experience in the Tuesday Big Group to streamline the way I thought partner with my clients.  Coaches, too, need only enough story to understand how to help the client identify what’s critical to focus on in the session.

The quality of life is not determined by the circumstances.  How are you, right now, in relation to your circumstances? That is a more helpful inquiry.

During the pandemic, disruption and uncertainty are the basis of day to day work for both leaders and teams; the priorities are constantly shifting as employees attempt to contribute successfully to the company mission in a meaningful way, while navigating remote work and personal life.

Even before the pandemic, companies were responding quickly to marketplace shifts, new business models and changing goals, demanding an intense level of agility and resilience.  This impacts team members to an exponential degree and leaders need help responding. How can we help most effectively?

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  1. Rey Carr

    September 14, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    Good article. Cory. Never let the story get in the way of the truth. Most people tell a story as if it’s 100% true or accurate (as they see it). But in reality a story is only 5% truth and 95% how you react to that truth.


  2. Jack Douglas Cerva

    September 12, 2023 at 3:34 am

    Thanks Cory, for the reframe, things happening “TO” vs “FOR” instead. Its hard to stay out of the solution and let client ….I worry about, how and my own value if I am utilizing a reframe, even though I understand such will assist client in becoming stronger themselves. Isnt that my goal anyway? Wow.


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