How can 1-1 coaching be helpful to carers?
(This blog was originally written for workingmums.co.uk as part of a series for Carers Week 2019)
I love this really simple definition of coaching from Coaching Development “Coaching is a series of purposeful conversations which enables you to move towards your goals, and typically involves some form of change.”
Support for carers
Coaching might not be the obvious solution when we think about supporting carers. The following might come to mind first:
- Signposting to useful resources and people
- Practical help or respite care
- Training on how to be a carer
- Financial support and advice
- Relaxation services such as massage
- Connection with other carers either online or in person
Yes they do need all of these things at different times and thanks to the amazing charities and community organisations that support carers much of this is available. However, carers lives have become complex, they may put the needs of others first and so simply never have time to use these services or feel that these services are not for them. Connecting with these services at the right time in the right way is just as important as the service itself. Coaching could be the missing thread that joins it all together.
Coaching to navigate through the practical matters
Caring can throw up a number of practical challenges, decisions to be made, actions to take, problems to solve and never ending to do lists. Sitting down 1-1 with a coach is like pressing the pause button, you can step outside of all the craziness, work out what is a priority, set small achievable goals and create plans to work though with support.
Making sense of the support available and making choices about when to access what can reduce the sense of overwhelm and confusion felt by carers.
Coaching as a space to focus on yourself
In coaching the carer is at the center of the conversation (not the cared for). A coach will not just focus on their caring role but the whole of who they are in life. Wellbeing, career and future plans may all have taken a back seat because of caring, coaching can bring them into focus.
Coaching for self-awareness and personal growth
Coaching is a safe space, carers can talk about themselves without fear of judgement or being told what to do. When a carer is free to talk honestly feelings such as guilt, resentment, acceptance and disappointment are common. Stepping back to look at these feelings and our responses to them can bring about a sense of control and choice.
Many carers have a perception of their ability as a carer that is a long way from reality, seeing themselves as failing, struggling or not good enough. Self-confidence may have taken a knock and perception of success can be skewed. Recognising this and working through it can be transformative.
My experience of caring and coaching
My own experience of being coached as a carer led to transformation for me. I’ve stopped comparing myself to others, I recognise the value of my lived experience and I noticed new opportunities and experiences opening up. When I decided I wanted to coach carers and facilitate carers groups I realised my experience had purpose and could make a difference to others. I found my “why?”
Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about how coaching could help you become the person you were made to be.