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  • Writer's pictureCoach Elizabeth Brink

The Coach-Client Relationship: A Model for Self-Partnership

Updated: Feb 26, 2022

What even IS self-partnership and how can it help me?

The Coach-Client Dynamic

First, let's understand the framework for an effective coaching partnership. The following definitions come from coach credentialing and training bodies: "International Coaching Federation (ICF)* defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership."**

THE ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO) gets more specific: "ADHD coaching is client-centered, client-driven, and confidential. ADHD Coaches regard the client as an intact, creative, and resourceful person, and approach the coaching through an ADHD-informed lens. ADHD coaches facilitate the client’s actions toward self-awareness and the identification and achievement of the client’s self-identified goals, providing structure and accountability as needed."***

The training program where several coaches in The Enclave are trained is Coach Approach for Organizers (though it's actually an ADHD coaching program). They encourage coaches to show up in the coaching session in these ways:

  • With a strong personal and professional foundation

  • In your role as a part-time witness and companion who holds the co-designed space for the client’s growing competence

  • Listening for and creating deep knowledge of your client: big and little agendas, values, strengths, modalities, challenges

  • Listening from a belief that your client is NCRW (naturally creative, resourceful, and whole)

The emphasis on co-creating a safe space to explore the topics that arise in coaching is something I see clients developing within themselves.

We know there is a harsh inner critic lurking within many of us. Through practicing self-partnership, you gain understanding and compassion toward yourself.

Why Does It Matter?

We will never run out of clever life hacks and online courses designed to convince us we *can* overcome our neurobiology. Perhaps you've invested in them - they work for a time (for some!) and then you are right back where you were.

The problem isn't trying new things. The problem is when you punish yourself when new things don't work for you (forever). When you're in a respectful, trusting, and loving partnership with yourself, you extend grace, patience, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

You also will find that trying new things becomes less loaded and recovery from flops less consuming.

It isn't just about feeling better from being kinder, though that is an enormous win, it can still leave you searching for the perfect strategy to function in this world. Self-coaching enables the individual to problem-solve more effectively, spending less time stuck and mad and more time building a deeper knowledge of how you best operate.

Taking the Coach's Seat for Yourself

Imagine yourself as a coach and client. Something comes up that requires a decision - Should you go? Should you care? Should you try something new?

Next, pick one or two default coaching questions to ask yourself in moments when you're stuck or overwhelmed -- or both! My personal favorite is, "what's hard about it?" Even when you don't think it's hard, pause to see if something comes up. Many of these could be asked multiple times as a response to the answer you give.

These efforts to connect with yourself in a curious, respectful manner can build a lasting partnership with yourself and others! Coaching Questions to Spark Insight:

  • What's hard about it?

  • What if there were no obstacles?

  • What is the very, very first step?

  • What is the goal/outcome I am/was trying to meet?

  • What is the real problem and consequences of doing it your way? Are there any?

  • What is my perspective on this? What's another perspective? (this doesn't need to be one you believe you could take, just another possibility to bring your brain out of the binary thinking)

Reflection Questions:

  • How could self-partnership and self-coaching help you with something you're currently facing?

  • What challenges do you foresee with attempting to coach yourself?

  • What strengths do you use to support others that could benefit you if directed inward?

Sources & Resources *The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the most globally recognized credentialing body for coaches. **ICF Coaching Explained ***ACO: Curious what happens in an ADHD coaching session? I have a recorded session you can watch here:

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