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Holding The Space For A Client Or A Friend

I remember the very first time that I had to ‘hold the space’ for a client sharing a challenge from her personal life. It was in a workshop in October 2009. We had to pair up and do a 10-minute active enquiry exchange. The instruction was to ask the 4 questions on our sheet and otherwise keep our mouths shut. Simple right? Ha! You would think so, but I recall feeling incredibly uncomfortable. It was so hard not to jump in and comfort my partner or give her advice that I “knew” she needed. Our minds love to believe that we have the answers for others.

Byron Katie, who I trained with, calls that mind the “I know mind”. It’s very funny when you gain awareness of it and can then catch it in yourself.

“Oh there goes my ‘I know mind’” again you will say and you can then detach from it and let go, much to the relief of whoever is on the receiving end of that!! 🙂

I was on an executive coach training call last night and the topic was “Coaching And The Personal Realms”. Executive coaching is results focused and it’s aim is to either directly or indirectly impact the bottom line of the company or to have a greater impact in a more efficient way if it’s a non-profit.

So executive coaching will not be advertised as ‘coaching in the personal realms’, but inevitably, if a client feels comfortable with the coach and their personal life is affecting their work performance and morale, the session can end up there.

Although coaching is not therapy and definitely should not be treated as such, some coaches will feel more comfortable than others holding the space for a client.

It’s an area that I have a lot of experience in and really love to go there with clients because I know how powerful it can be to help a client move through whatever is weighing them down. It’s also an honor to gain a clients trust in that way so they know that they can share confidentially and trust that they will not be judged for it.

So I volunteered to share my experience when Andrew, the training facilitator, asked for our input. I shared about ‘holding the space’ and Andrew said “what does that mean Niamh, people in corporate wont be familiar with that?” He’s right about that and it was a good realization for me. Though I had to think for a minute about what ‘holding the space’ means.

Holding the space means providing a safe and confidential space, with deep presence, for the client to share vulnerably. But mastering the art of holding the space, takes practice and skill.

What I loved about my training as a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie (a powerful process that is similar to cognitive based therapy) is that we had to identify and let go the beliefs came up for us when we were holding that space. A coach that is sitting there with the ‘I know mind’ in overdrive is going to be a very different experience for a client than one that is fully and non-judgmentally present with no other agenda apart from helping the client to process what’s going on for them and then asking them good questions so they can work through it. But it’s not just judgments about what the client shares that you might have to let go of. It’s also a shyness or discomfort that you might feel if they share something of a sexual nature for example. It comes with practice and increased confidence.

It’s also a great skill to have even if you are not a coach. Being a supportive and non-judgmental friend to someone can make the world of difference to them, especially right now whilst emotions in the world are so high.

If you are reading this and know that you would benefit from working through something difficult by having someone you trust hold a confidential space for you, then please reach out. Life is too short to hold on to things that are weighing on you. Depending on what you want to work through, I can recommend that you sign up for a VIP day, a weekly program, or maybe just a 90-minute session to get something, that is weighing heavy on you, off your chest. Also, I still have 3 slots available (at the time of writing this) for my PLAN YOUR PERFECT CAREER program which is an incredible opportunity to receive powerful support for your future. The slots will go fast, so message me know if you are interested. An extended payment plan is available for those that need it.

“Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.”

― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Here’s to you flying and living a brave and purposeful life no matter where you are currently at or what you have already experienced.

With love,

Niamh xx

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