In Co-Active Coaching, we learn a principle known as “Process,” which is designed to help clients experience the ebb and flow of life more fully and completely. The tools in this principle are designed to enable the client to be fully present to their experience rather than sleepwalking through life or subconsciously resisting certain aspects or areas. Process coaching helps make present what is bubbling under the surface—often only experienced as vague sensations or fleeting thoughts. By stopping the chatter of the active mind and helping put voice to the client’s full experience, Process coaching deepens and integrates what Daniel Siegel calls our “embodied mind.”
Amazingly, recent research has found we have neurons not just in our brains, but also in our heart and in our gut. And our whole bodies are taking in critical information all the time, somatically doing their best to make sense of the world. This useful information is all too often ignored in our day to day lives, possibly because the pathways from the body connect with the right hemisphere of the brain, which is not as skilled at putting things into linear language and logical understanding (see Come On Over to the Right Side for more on this). When the information is not processed and integrated, it stays vague and unfocused, and often continues to nag at the client even though they may not know why.
Process coaching helps the client “grab” this information, and through the use of metaphor, focusing on body sensations, and other tools, to go deeply into the experience. Research on meditators has shown that the close paying of attention — which is exactly what the coach is supporting the client to do — activates a part of the brain that releases a chemical called acetylcholine, which helps with neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to make new neural pathways). Close attention is also linked to the brain’s release of brain-derived neurotropic factor, which increases growth between widely separated areas of the brain.
Thus, when we help our clients pay close attention by taking them into their experience through process coaching, we help create lasting change. The impact is that issues that have been bothering the client, and areas where they have been stuck (sometimes for years) get resolved.