A Coaching Model By Joshua Schwarzberg, Mindset Coach, UNITED STATES
SOMA- Sense, Observing, Meaning & Apply
In day-to-day life, it can be difficult to feel connected and grounded. For most people, their lives are in overdrive and so they flutter from one task to another without checking in on themselves. When we finally do seek these avenues of connection, they can feel impossible to find because we live in a society that encourages estrangement from our physical bodies. For this reason, my coaching model S.O.M.A is a powerful tool to connect clients to their most authentic selves and metabolize emotional cycles that might be stagnant. The acronym comes from the Greek word, soma, which means the physical body, as distinguished from the mind or spirit. Our bodies are powerful and they store information. Interestingly, however, much of Western coaching practice solely focuses on what the mind is trying to communicate and foregoes the wisdom stored within our DNA. Whether you are a coach specializing in fitness, spirituality, business, or relationships, it is crucial to acknowledge that your clients are comprised of both a physical and emotional self. Adopting a holistic approach in your coaching interactions can result in a profound transformation, as it provides both you and your client with access to new perspectives. By facilitating a connection between the client’s mind and body, you empower them to take charge of their lived experience.
S-ense: What is your client’s mind saying?
Sense is part of the coaching journey that so many of us are already familiar with utilizing. It usually begins with the question, “What would be a valuable way to use your time today?” This aspect of a coaching session is called the Coaching Agreement, or the focus of the session that will give the most value to your client. For most clients, this is also the part of the session where their mind kicks into gear and they share a mindset, problem, issue, or grievance that has commanded their attention over the past few days or weeks. Hearing what your client is bringing to their session is so important, but it is important to not only coach the “what” of their topic but also the “who” that is attached. In much of Western coaching, the “who” is commonly associated with the inner psyche of the client. While the traditional question-and-answer-style sessions can be a powerful way to connect the client to who they truly are, many things can distract your client from connecting their “what” to their “who”. This step of my coaching model is intimately connected to Establishing and Maintaining Agreements of the ICF Core Competencies and allows the coach to set a respectful, mindful, and curious intention for the time ahead.
O-bserve: What information is felt in their body?
Observe is the aspect of the coaching session that might feel most foreign to many of us. In Western culture, we spend so much of our time disassociating from our physical self, that as a coach, it can be difficult to know what questions to ask to help a client meaningfully connect.
After receiving an accurate read on what your client’s cerebral self is sharing, it is time to get connected to what their physical self might need to explore. While for the sake of the acronym Observe is listed as the second step, Sense and Observe can be used interchangeably. Because our mind and our body are so intimately connected, they are constantly sharing information. Depending on your client’s style of expression, they might need to tap into the body’s wisdom before they know what items need to be addressed from their mind. A great place to start when establishing this mind and body connection is through the question, “Where do you feel this_________ in your body?” For many of us, our bodies hold the true questions. When our minds are trying to distract us from the actual problem, our physical bodies cannot lie. By incorporating this step into the coaching journey, the coach is connecting to Maintaining Presence, Actively Listening, and Evoking Awareness of the ICF Core Competencies.
M-eaning: What connection is formed between mind and body?
Now that your client has tapped into their mind and body connection it is important to explore the relevance of this information. As you tap into your client’s evolutionary intelligence, it is important to keep in mind the words of Stacy Haines, a prominent figure at the Strozzi Institute, a leading institution in the field of somatics. Haines explains that a comprehensive understanding of somatics necessitates an appreciation of the concept of “shape.” According to Haines, the term “shape” is employed in a manner distinct from conventional understandings. In the somatic context, shape encompasses an individual’s embodied history and experiences, emotional state and capacity, cognitive processes and belief systems, and their behaviors and choices. (Haines, 0:18-0:36). An exploration and holistic understanding of your client is the foundation for establishing a strong connection between mind and body. As human beings, we engender multiple identities and contexts. It is impossible to detangle these identities from one another and the coach must explore how particular words and feelings connect to all of the facets of a client’s experience. What powerful questions can be asked to help your client dig deep into this new information? Through this step of the coaching model, the coach is Evoking Awareness in the client and also Facilitating Growth, which are fundamental pillars of the ICF Core Competencies.
A-pply: How can this new connection be used to move forward?
Now that a mind and body connection has been established, applying and integrating this learning into the conversation is important. Connecting your coaching conversation to the Facilitating Growth aspect of the ICF Core Competencies is fundamental to the success and betterment of your client. What questions can you ask to help your client make a powerful action plan for the road ahead? What accountability does your client need to incorporate into their life to achieve success? Creating a space that allows your client to connect to their powerful, inner wisdom is the main objective of a coaching conversation. The highest hope for a coach is to help our clients integrate new awareness into their worldviews and behaviors.
The relationship between the cognitive and somatic dimensions of human experience has been widely acknowledged. There exists a substantial degree of convergence in how emotions are manifested in the physical bodies of human beings. Despite the fact that the mind and body convey messages in differing manners, they both strive to communicate the same underlying message. In light of this, cultivating strong bidirectional communication between the mind and body is crucial for coaches. By incorporating somatic practices, such as mindfulness and visualization techniques, into coaching sessions, a space is created for clients to enhance their self-awareness, foster new neural connections, and experience transformation.