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Step 2: Explore the problem or challenge

Dionne Jude April 17, 2020

When you are helping a client, it can be easy to go with a quick solution to a problem. For a person that is overweight and wants to diet, creating a menu for them and monitoring their progress might seem like the right way to help them. Someone who struggles with low self-esteem might be helped by counselling sessions and confidence builders. But sometimes, the problem is deeper than something that can be helped with an easy solution.

Sometimes, you have to find the root cause if you want to help someone. So, how do you go about finding the root cause of someone’s behaviours in sporadic coaching sessions?

Believing, Thinking & Acting

There is a specific process that people go through when they exhibit behaviours. It is the belief-thought-action cycle; understanding that cycle can be the key to solving their deeper issues, because often, a behaviour that is destructive is linked to a belief that is driving it. You have to work your way back through this cycle in order to find out where a specific behaviour or action comes from if you want to help your clients overcome these problems.

Actions: Actions seem like they are choices that we are making right there in that particular moment. Most of the behaviours are already predetermined because of our thoughts. For example, if a client always clams up whenever they talk to a member of the opposite sex, and it is something they want to change, you have to look at the thoughts behind it.

Key questions

  • How do you know you have this problem or challenge? What do you do?
  • What do you want to stop doing?
  • What do you want to start doing?
  • What actions restrict you from getting what you really want?

Thoughts: The thoughts that you have are actually what drives that action. For example, this particular client might be thinking that they don’t know what to do say, and they don’t have the ability to talk to this person. Those thoughts drive the actions, but where do the thoughts come from?

  • What recurring thoughts do you have about this?
  • What would you like to think instead?
  • Which of your thoughts are not helpful?
  • What do you think the other person is thinking?
  • How do you know what you are thinking is correct or true?
  • How would you be without this thought?

Beliefs: That’s where the beliefs come in. You can actually trace behaviours all the way back to the beliefs that a person holds. In the case of our example, they might have the belief that they just aren’t good enough to talk to attractive members of the opposite sex. You have to help your clients figure out what these beliefs are, and then help them to evaluate them and decide if that particular belief is something they need to change or not.

  • What do you believe is happening? How do you know?
  • What is the belief driving this situation?
  • When did you start believing this?
  • Who has contributed to shaping this belief?
  • What would you like to believe about this?
  • What do you wish were true?