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Couples Coaching: Assisting People to Succeed In Relationships

written byErickson Coaching Internationalon 18/07/2017

Couples Coaching Course

Nowadays, in most cultures, people have all the freedom to seek, pre-test, improvise, and ask for fulfillment in their relationships. Continuous social transformations have enabled us to choose between staying in unhappy relationships or becoming single, however, we are missing a system of skills. How do we manage our relationship projects successfully? People get exhausted in their search for happiness as they are struggling blindfolded, making mistakes, fixing broken parts, and abandoning relationships that don't work well. It takes far too long for many people before they are finally able to create a fulfilling bond.

A happy family life has been a TOP priority through decades. If you observe your environment, your friends, and yourself, you will see that men and women all over the world are proactively searching for productive behavior models to build strong families. They don’t want to find themselves in counseling sorting out relationships problems, and they are open to solutions and recommendations of all kinds, including advice from friends and family, mystical and spiritual, astrological, psychological guidance, surfing the web and reading books on the topic.

For all of these reasons, Couples Coaching is gaining power all over the world. It enables people to learn how to negotiate with each other, how to listen to each other, and how to be a coach with their partner, as well as how to actually have a sustainable system that allows for growth in each other’s presence.

Marilyn Atkinson is the founder and president of Erickson Coaching International and a pioneer of the Solution-Focused and Outcome-Oriented Coaching model. She has 30 years of profound expertise in this area and delivers a highly sought after Couples Coaching training. 

You are invited to read her interview below, as Marilyn Atkinson is eager to share her discoveries and breakthroughs. 

Marilyn, what would you recommend to people who are considering signing up for the course or stepping into the area of Couples Coaching?

MA: Oh, I would suggest you make a step forward and risk it – simply jump in! It doesn't matter if you think you fit or not, Couples Coaching is good for everyone who has completed The Art & Science of Coaching.

Frankly, I would suggest that every coach would do a Family and Couples Coaching program, just for themselves. It adds so much rich information to understanding coaching processes. It adds a baseline for all sorts of individual coaching where people are actually dealing with “couple issues”. Personally, I would like to see all coaches working with at least 3 days of Couples Coaching, getting this baseline integrated.

Knowing how to coach relationships also helps a lot with team and business coaching, because we are looking at how to accelerate the path of team development. A family is a team, and if we understand all of the areas where a team needs to build trust and how that done, then it becomes much easier.

What kind of background skills should coaches acquire before going into Family Coaching?

MA: It is absolutely necessary to have basic coaching skills, such as the ones taught in The Art & Science of Coaching. We also prefer people who have some kind of background in working with people and relationships. Experience in mediation, facilitation, and counseling are also great assets. This is because Family Coaching is probably the most complex area of coaching.

We want people who know the difference between the need to negotiate with somebody and the need to coach them. We must be able to identify what is a training issue, a coaching issue, a negotiation issue, and what is a mediation issue.

If you want to make it your specialty area, then it is very useful to have at least a certain level of experience with your own family life, and your own parental experience to move ahead in the program.

Clients often need a coach who is a little more mature, that may have raised a family themselves, may have been in a relationship for some time, and knows a lot more about relationships dynamics than a someone just starting out in these life areas.

Working with Couples and with Relationships creates a new level of complexity for coaches. How does this reshape or adjust the set of coaching skills, which a coach should have to be successful in this area?

MA: It shapes them a lot. What differs is that we are actually talking to three participants when we are working with a couple: we are coaching each partner and the Relationship. Each partner in the couple is invested into the third body, the Relationship, and that's somewhat different than coaching one person around their goals.

We use a variation on Coaching Arrow in Couples Coaching. The Art & Science of Coaching tools map very powerfully into Couples Coaching.

There are also different levels and kinds of coaching skills as it is very different working with a new couple as opposed to a couple that has hit problem areas. There are particular methods that have to do with people working gradually to adjust their perception of their partner in order to keep it positive to support their partner and to support a long-term vision of the family.

Working with couples or families requires confidentiality. Sometimes we are coaching only one partner, sometimes we are coaching both together. Sometimes we need to refer a partner to another coach because they don't feel safe working with the same coach as their partner. And we need to be very acutely aware of these issues so that the couple moves ahead.

What differentiates Relationship & Couples Coaching from Family Therapy and Counseling? Many people used to perceive these areas as traditional, already established, and areas where coaching is new.

MA: The main difference is the attitude of the clients. If somebody has called saying: “I have got a serious problem” - they are likely looking for a very qualified relationship specialist. A lot of people don’t come to coaches when they believe they have a severe problem. However, the methodologies are frequently much the same and follow the same principles. I have spent a whole lot time coaching and training around relationship questions, and I have a clear background on what it takes to become effective in any of these areas.

Relationship & Couples Coaching is such a huge area, can we call it a “niche”?

MA: It's a very wide niche... it includes family coaching for young couples, those who are just getting started. It also includes another area, which is working with couples who have got some “bones of contention”.

In all of these situations, there are people who desperately want assistance. They want to learn how to negotiate with each other, how to actually have a sustainable system that allows them to grow in each other’s presence. What are they really checking is can this marriage be saved? Do we want to be with each other? What’s the real long-term prognosis? Is it worth staying together?

Making some simple discoveries about the value of coaching, and developing methods for self-coaching and partnership coaching early in relationships, can provide powerful assistance. In this course, you as a coach will discover valuable ways to assist couples in building a framework for their development as a team.

The Art & Science of Couples Coaching in Vancouver will be taught by Marilyn Atkinson - the Founder of Erickson Coaching International!

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