How can neuroscience improve coaching?

Neuroscience is a popular term used to describe what we understand about our brains. Neuroscience or brain science is being spoken about frequently, but many people don’t fully know what it means and how it may apply to coaching.

Standard coaching can only work when the individual already has the right frame of mind and the necessary skills for change. Coaching with neuroscience can achieve more, faster – and permanently.

Because we frequently do things that we don’t want to do, get stuck in habitual behaviours and entrenched in emotional responses (including anxiety), understanding how to apply neuroscience in coaching can enable the coach to “unstick” their clients from these behaviours and processes.

A coach using a model such as GROW may find that once they are no longer supporting their client that he or she reverts to getting stuck in the old patterns. Alternatively, coaches may find that their clients are inhibited by thoughts that they cannot shift or by behaviours they cannot change. When using the standard approach it is not possible to effectively help clients to have more positive emotional experiences and, other than providing a supportive environment in which to talk, few can aid their client with anxiety issues.

Standard coaching operates through cognitive processing – in other words, we must think our way to change. Whereas through utilising a deep and full knowledge of neuroscience we can make changes to our brain without having to think about it, and without the need to employ willpower and without having to experience the pain of change.

If a coach uses neuroscience effectively their client is enabled to make small tweaks that rapidly translate into big, life empowering changes. This is because when a coach understands how and why patterns are created, it becomes possible to edit or rewrite those unhelpful processes.

When their client explains that they want to “be different”, “do things differently or create different outcomes” for themselves, a coach using neuroscience applies her knowledge of how the brain processes events, memories, habits. And combines this with knowing how to switch on creativity or focus, for example, and how to switch off unhelpful thoughts and behavioural patterns that run on autopilot. Through the application of processes that do not require thinking, hard work and willpower, neuroscience based coaching can create transformative effects.

This process is different from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which focuses on how the brain has processed experiences, and the impact this has on the structure and functioning of specific brain parts. CBT can identify the key triggers and create strategies for preventing these from driving the client down the same unhelpful brain pathways. Neuroscience based coaching focuses on the most appropriate frame of mind to achieve what the client wants. In this way it becomes possible to short cut the development journey and get to a rapid and sustainable transformation.

Using neuroscience in our coaching practice allows our clients to rewire their brains – truly get into the driving seat – simply, and fast. It’s a truly powerful method to drive lasting change.

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