What happens in a coaching session?
While approaches to coaching sessions vary, it is fair to say that all will start with an initial period of establishing the agenda for the coaching session. They will move through a period of discovery and exploration (which may follow many different routes) and end with an agreement about actions the researcher will take next.
Indeed, one of the core competences of highly skilled coaches is to have 'coaching presence', often described as 'dancing in the moment'. That means the coach will respond closely to the issues the client raises, including through non-verbal communication, rather than following a predefined formula.
One way to understand what happens in a coaching session is to introduce the GROW model which is often taught in coaching training. This is just one of many useful coaching tools and it is used here to be illustrative rather than prescriptive.
Following GROW a session may run as follows:
GOAL setting. The coach will establish with the researcher what they want. They might identify a longer term vision as well as the specific focus of the session. Coaches may use the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) as a starting point, particularly in the first coaching session.
What is REALITY? The conversation will move towards establishing the situation for the researcher now. This can include practicalities of their situation, their emotional relationship to the issue and identifying what the barriers appear to be.
What OPTIONS do you have? Here the coach will steer the conversation towards creating options for the researcher. The emphasis is on enabling the researcher to be as creative as possible to identify the possibilities to overcome what may be in their way.
WHAT will you do? At this point the researcher will assess their options and identify actions they can take next, including assessing their level of motivation. Actions may include the need to evaluate the options in more detail or to choose a particular route and identify the first steps in that direction.