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What is Existential Coaching? - Key Ideas

Existential Coaching is practically focused and highly accessible. It has been developed from a set of interconnected principles designed to assist clients to more effectively respond to the dilemmas of living and act in greater harmony with their chosen goals and aspirations.

Drawn from contemporary applied psychology and philosophy, these principles provide a straightforward means with which to address those areas of conflict and tension that restrict our potential for personal achievement and diminish our ability to engage in fulfilling relationships with others.

In particular, four key ideas lie at the heart of Existential Coaching:

  • First, Existential Coaching promotes the view that long-term, meaningful and worthwhile outcomes from focused coaching interventions only emerge when the whole of the person's worldview, or general stance to life, is properly examined.For each of us, our worldview includes a wide range of beliefs, needs, values and aspirations. However, our worldview is rarely sufficiently explored and identified.In many cases, our worldview contains competing and contradictory attitudes and stances that provoke conflict between our wider life-oriented needs and goals and our work-focused objectives, responsibilities and development plans.

    Unless the issues arising from a divided worldview are properly addressed, all interventions that are focused only upon current concerns or felt disturbance will provide, at best, merely a brief and inadequate resolution.Worse, they may well provoke greater levels of felt powerlessness, uncertainty and anger directed either towards oneself, others (including, of course, one's family or work colleagues), or both. Existential Coaching helps clients to become much more aware of their unique and underlying worldview so that they may be more able to challenge the ambiguities, tensions and limitations that impact upon their stated goals and aspirations.

  • Second, Existential Coaching rejects the common view that conflict is itself the source of our problems and should be eradicated from our lives.

    Existential Coaching believes that in the great majority of cases an inadequately examined worldview is the source of that form of conflict which acts negatively upon our personal and professional satisfaction as well as our sense of purpose and self-esteem. Conflict often expresses issues surrounding dividedness - either in our relations to business or to others.

    Unlike many other coaching programmes that only focus upon broadly positive, self-actualising qualities and possibilities for each client, Existential Coaching's approach also recognises and gives equal emphasis to the divided stances, aims and aspirations that may well exist as competing values and beliefs held by each client.

  • Existential Coaching argues that unless the issues and sources of dividedness are properly addressed, all interventions are doomed to provide, at best, merely a brief and inadequate resolution. Worse, they may well serve to provoke greater levels of felt powerlessness, uncertainty and anger directed either towards oneself, others (including, of course, one's organisation), or both. It is our view that long-term, meaningful and worthwhile outcomes from focused coaching interventions only emerge when the whole of the person's worldview, or stance to life, is considered - conflicting and divided needs, wishes and desires and all!

  • Third, Existential Coaching argues that worldviews do not develop from within individuals. Rather, our worldview emerges from, and is an expression of, relations between persons. Success today, at every level, calls for an awareness of and sensitivity to individual and cultural diversity so that we can better respond to the distinctive responsibilities and demands that arise from a global perspective and economy.Existential Coaching adopts the view that every step we take in life has its impact not just upon ourselves but upon others - be they our family, our friends, our work colleagues, our organisation, our society and, ultimately, the whole world.Its commitment is to assist clients in arriving at personal decisions and life changes that are grounded in a relationally attuned awareness and responsibility.
  • Fourth, Existential Coaching stresses that the value and expertise of coaches is not that of supplying the solutions to clients' problems. Instead, the best coaches offer the necessary mental "space" that will assist their clients in finding their own means to live a good and responsible life.Sometimes, clients discover that creative and liberating results will occur through self-directed changes in behaviour and lifestyle.

    On the other hand, they may also find that the most helpful and effective changes only occur when they accept that "what is there" for them at present may not be open to all their efforts at directed change and can only be "worked with" rather than "worked against".

    Existential Coaching is not about imposing self-directed change just for the sake of short-term benefits that may, in the long run, become the basis for far greater discord and disturbance.Instead, Existential Coaching recognises that the less we feel required (whether by others or ourselves) to alter something in our lives, the more willing and able we become to consider the possibilities and worth of change - and then act accordingly.

In general, Existential Coaching works within a context that emphasises an organisationally-aware, socially-conscious and responsible way of considering human beings - which is to say, as beings in relation to and with one another rather than the more self-isolationist biases of many other forms of coaching.

"The words of truth are always paradoxical."


Contact information - email esa@plexworld.com / telephone 0207 771 0123 / Fax 0207 771 0123