Recently, I received a call from Priya (name changed) who was trying to overcome indecisiveness about whether she should continue with the job or set up her own private practice. She wanted to know how Decision/clarity Coaching can help her overcome her challenges.
After the initial introduction, Priya briefly described her concern over the call.
Decision Coaching – Step-by-step guide
Below is the transcript of the conversation:
Nitin, I don’t have any problem per se, I am a professional executive and I have recently been promoted to assistant manager in the organization where I am working with. I feel very valued in my chosen career and that makes me really confident about myself.
Now, the problem begins. I recently married a family-orientated professional man whom I really love. I now face the dilemma of whether to pursue my career or to fall pregnant.
My mother and aunties have been pestering me to “do the right thing” like my friends from school who by now all have at least one child. They keep saying things such as “When are you going to fall pregnant?” and “Don’t you think it’s about time you did the right thing?” or “Surely you want to be a mother?” keep ringing in my ears.
My colleagues admire and respect me and support me in my work, believing that my achievements will let them all achieve their targets.
Nitin, recently my father died just as I was about to start university, he always encouraged me to be more than just a stay at home mother. He would tell me that I could achieve whatever I set out to do.
Initial Consultation Session
After hearing Priya’s challenges during the initial counsultation for Decision Coaching, I began by psycho-educating Priya about the process we follow in Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching.
I informed Priya that they the approach will include:
- Defining the struggle to overcome indecision
- Defining the expectations from the sessions clearly.
- Understanding the kind of future, you would like to create for yourself
- Listing down each of the choices/options you are aware of and exploring additional options
- Assessing pros and cons and understand how these options impact your desired future
- Making an informed decision
- Identifying any hindrances in terms of thoughts, emotions, or fears that may prevent you from applying your decisions.
- Restructuring the thoughts and emotions where required
- Identifying and developing additional skills that may be useful to overcome indecision
I asked Priya about any questions she had or clarification she needed.
Priya : What are the expected no. of sessions and about how I can start with these sessions.
Nitin : I informed her that she should expect around 4 sessions and that we can start from next week.
Priya said that she wasn’t in town for the next two weeks and that she would book an appointment once she is back.
Priya started the Decision Coaching sessions after around a month.
I asked Priya to summarize the current challenge she was facing and wanted to overcome indecision via therapy in her own words.
Priya : I am not able to decide what to do with my life
I asked Priya to reframe her problem statement using the following format:
I feel ……………………. about ………………………… when ……………………………
Priya did as asked and said:
I feel confused about whether to give up my career or not when I think about having a child
I asked Priya to read the above statement a couple of times and tell me what was the desired outcome that she wanted to achieve at the end of these sessions in the format
I wish ……………………….
Priya: I wish to be able to make a decision and be content and happy with the same.
I asked Priya to describe a day in the future after she had achieved her outcome.
Priya mentioned that in the future, she saw herself both as a mother and with a successful career. She described how she is able to balance her career with her family life.
I asked her Meta Model questions*1 that elicited a more detailed description about her future.
Priya answered those questions with more detailed sensory information. She also described the kind of career she wants to have and how she plans to have her own company in future. She provided details about the work her company would be involved in. She also mentioned the expected no. of employees and the desired turnover of the company by the time she is 35.
In terms of the family and children she described the type of relationship she wants to have with her partner and her children. How she wants to be a friend to the children as they grow up. She also mentioned that ideally, she would like to have two children.
In the next few sessions my focus was to help Priya assess her options. Priya initially began with the following options:
- Continue with the job and have a child after around 4 years
- Have the child now and then see if after 5 years she can get back to her job
I asked her to read the future that she had described and check if anything else comes to her mind. After reading the future again, Priya added another option:
- Start working on a business plan to set up her own company and plan for pregnancy in about a year. Hire a couple of employees who have the skills and can be trusted to handle the day-to-day affairs once she becomes pregnant and moves closer to the date of delivery.
Once Priya listed down the options or choices, I asked to list down all the pros and cons of each of the choices and how the choice brings her closer to or takes her away from her desired future.
At the end of the Decision Coaching process, Priya selected option 3 as her final decision.
After Priya made that decision. I asked her to list down the additional tasks she needs to do as a part of the implementation of her decision along with the skills and emotional state she would require to be able to do those tasks.
She mentioned the following Tasks that she needed to start with:
- Speaking to her husband about her decision
- Working on a Business Plan both short term and long term
- Connecting with people she has in her mind who could join her in the business
She also listed down the skills and emotional states that she needed to develop:
- Becoming more organized
- Time management
Next, I asked her questions from the SOFT SEA*2 Coaching Model to help her break down each main task into a series of subtasks or step-by-step processes that can be followed to accomplish each main task.
While listing down the subtasks, Priya was also able to tell me about the specific subtasks that she expects to struggle with or procrastinate. For each of these subtasks, we explored the associated emotions (that she was trying to avoid by procrastinating) and the specific thought(s) that led to these emotions.
I also asked her to define the specific areas where each of the states and skills she mentioned will be required.
Once we had all the required details, I used guided imagination/hypnosis*3 to help her explore the different ways she can communicate her decision to her husband. I also used a combination of When-Then Statements*4 and Emotional Anchoring*5 (a variation of the conditioning process) to help her recondition her thoughts and develop confidence and patience in the areas that she had mentioned.
Based on the tasks and subtasks that she created, I also gave her the assignment to maintain a to-do list and a daily calendar of activities for becoming more organized and for time management.
By the end of the sessions, Priya had not just made a decision that she was happy about but had also developed the confidence to be able to apply her decision.
I learned how a decision coaching session it is not just about helping the client make a decision that they are confused about, but also taking the next step to ensure that the client is able to apply that decision effectively.