Coaching Case Study – Rebecca*

*Name changed to protect confidentiality

Rebecca felt her boundaries were not respected by family members and work colleagues. We worked together for four months at fortnightly intervals for the first two months, followed by monthly. Rebecca came to my studio so these sessions were face to face. At the start of each session I listened to what Rebecca wanted to get from the session and then suggested a way of working based on what she’d told me.

In our first session we used objects which I invited her to place to describe ‘the story so far’. Rebecca chose specific objects from my object box to represent aspects of a relationship where she had difficulty expressing her needs. We explored the relationships between the objects, including the actual physical distance and what that meant. Next I invited her to place new objects or the same ones to describe ‘the story I’d like to have’. Again, we explored the relationships and what was different to the previous arrangement. Then we explored the conditions for that difference. Rebecca gained insight and clarity from this session and developed some ‘homework’ actions to try out in relation to boundaries. She felt inspired to uphold her own boundary in a way that was assertive.

In another session we used the physical space to map out the relationship with Rebecca’s father. I invited her to draw what she would like to have happen and place the drawing somewhere in the room, then place herself in relation to it. We explored what she knew about the drawing from this perspective and then I invited her to move to another space. This is an iterative process and Rebecca gained a shift in perspective from it. The shift enabled her to accept what she couldn’t change about the relationship with her father. This allowed her to let go of unstated expectations and disappointments.

In another session Rebecca talked about a work situation and I listened and asked questions. At one point I asked Rebecca to draw how it felt. Rebecca could see her boss wasn’t supporting her in the ways she needed and that she was trying too hard to please the boss. She amended the drawing as she felt more empowered to communicate assertively with her boss.

A Journal is a Powerful Tool

At the beginning of our relationship I invited Rebecca to keep a journal. She found the journal to be a useful tool for exploring how she felt, using drawing and writing. This stopped unhelpful thoughts circling in her mind so she could see them and accept them. Then she could think about what she’d like to have happen and what the steps for that would be. She also found it useful to draw what she couldn’t say in words – a different way of expressing something.

Conclusion

Being able to feel and express her boundaries to herself means Rebecca now has tools to assert her opinion rather than not know what to say. This means she can stay in ‘difficult’ conversations rather than avoid them or try to exit them. She feels empowered, which is a shift from uncertain to confidence. Rebecca ended the coaching when she got to this feeling of confidence.

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