Coaching is a form of training or development that helps individuals and organizations find solutions to challenges facing them and to make tangible progress toward their goals and objectives. In contrast to individual therapy or counseling, coaching does not involve making diagnoses of psychiatric conditions or psychological injuries. In contrast to standard-brand consulting, coaching does not provide lists of recommendations or suggested solutions. Rather, coaching is about helping clients find the answers and pathways they seek, usually via thoughtful questioning and dialogue.
I just returned from an intensive, three-day seminar for those who are training to become personal and organizational coaches. Among other things, this training will enhance my ongoing efforts to address workplace bullying. In particular, I’ve been thinking a lot about how coaching can help targets of workplace bullying, especially those who are ready to engage a process of renewal following their difficult experiences at work.
Jessi Eden Brown, a licensed mental health counselor and professional coach, has been a pioneer in developing coaching services for targets through her affiliation with the Workplace Bullying Institute. The informal feedback that I’ve received over the years about her work has been very positive, furthering my interest in the potential of coaching to help targets.
As I wrote last year, targets of workplace bullying may go through four stages in their journey to a better place: Recognition, response, recovery, and renewal. Mental health counseling may be especially helpful in helping targets recover from conditions such as depression and PTSD. But coaching can help targets in the other three stages, including identifying options and taking action in the non-clinical realm and serving as a source of encouragement and support.
Just as there are not enough licensed mental health providers sufficiently briefed about the harms wrought by workplace bullying, there are not enough coaches who understand the effects of workplace bullying in ways that can inform their work with clients. Part of my motivation to pursue a coaching training program is to consider how coaching can help targets and organizations alike.
As you can see, this is a work in progress, along with my advocacy for legal reform and other measures designed to prevent, stop, and respond to bullying at work. But I wanted to share these thoughts now, with assurances of more to come.