What if… your coachee feels like committing suicide?

We’re sitting with a coachee, either in a first exploratory meeting or further along in the coaching relationship, and it dawns on us that the individual in front of us is contemplating suicide. Maybe it’s been stated openly, or maybe we’re getting the feeling that the coachee is moving in that direction. What should we do?

round shaped brickThis may be an extreme situation, but as coaches we cannot know if and when such a dilemma will confront us. We can, however, be prepared if and when it does. Suicidal coachees or individuals dealing with other kinds of crises which affect their mental capacity deserve that we’ve thought through how to handle such situations, and it’s our ethical duty to make sure we’ve done our homework.

That’s why this time I’ll be highlighting two recent documents produced by the International Coach Federation (ICF). They were prepared with the express intention of ensuring we have guidance at our fingertips to clarify the most helpful options, as well as proven pathways to follow which we can be assured will help our coachees optimally. I’d recommend we read both of these documents carefully as soon as we can, and have the reference sheet with us at all times:

A blog post can’t possibly do justice to all the valuable material presented, so here I’m focusing on 4 important topics:

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Why contract in coaching?

In a previous post I discussed the five basic skills any coach needs to master if he or she wants to be effective. I said then I’d be discussing each of these in further posts, so here I’ll be looking into the first skill on that list by checking out the rationale for and characteristics of effective contracting.

man signing contractEffective contracting is crucial to the success of coaching relationships. Why? Well, the origins of any problems that occur as the relationships develop can usually be traced back to the contracting stage.

The term ‘contracting’ can refer to two things:

  1. the ongoing process whereby the coach helps the coachee define, refine and redefine clear outcomes for the coaching sessions;
  2. the negotiations and resulting document setting out the parameters of the relationship between coach, coachee and any other stakeholders with an interest in the coaching intervention.

I’ll be taking a look at both of these under the following headings:

  • Contracting in the coaching process
  • Contracting the coaching relationship

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Coaching tools and the 5 basic coaching skills – what do you REALLY need?

What skills does a coach REALLY need? Which tools are essential?

These are big questions. And many coaches secretly have them at the back of their minds, especially when they’re newly qualified.  Have you ever heard that little voice inside saying something like this: “Okay, you’re qualified… But are you good enough? What do you REALLY have to do? What do you REALLY have to know?”

stylised head and question marksIt takes time for a coach to gain confidence, and it takes practice. However, if there’s one myth I’d like to dispel which might help everyone relax, it’s this – the myth that to be a successful coach you need to be well-practised in a whole host of tools, without which you can’t call yourself a ‘proper coach’ at all.

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