Brain Based Approach to Coaching
Brain Based : David Rock, based upon an interview with Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D.
This article introduces a theoretical foundation to brain based coaching. It highlights some of the current findings about the neuroscience of attention, insight, reflection and action, through interviews with a leading neuroscientist.
<This brain based article first appeared in the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, 2006, 4(2), pp. 32-43. Reprinted with permission.>
Coaching has emerged from a synthesis of many fields including training, adult learning, consulting, change management, the human potential movement, psychology and systems science. Each of these fields has their own models and approaches to coaching. The various schools of thought agree on little, except that “coaching works,” and that more of it should be done. There is no widely accepted theoretical framework that explains why we need it, how it actually works and how to do it better.
This can be a problem when various constituencies are trying to roll out system-wide approaches to coaching. Senior executives, being academically trained and analytical, will want a theory base, evidence and research to support the introduction of any new way of thinking into their organization. A brain based approach to coaching may provide an answer to this challenge, for a number of reasons.
First, every event that occurs in coaching is tied to activities in someone’s head. (Some people may argue that coaching is more “heart based.” Whatever your perspective is on this, consider that emotions have correlates in the brain too.) This means that a brain based approach should underpin and explain every good coaching model and provide the field with an underpinning science. A brain based approach is going to be inclusive and bring the disparate field to greater cohesion.
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