This is a guest post written by June Rousso
June Rousso, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist, life coach, and writer practising in New York City. You can learn more about June HERE
Several years have gone by and I feel a sense of mastery becoming certified as a positive psychology coach. I loved learning concepts and listening to my classmates coach one another. But when it came down to coaching clients myself, a sense of dread would always come over me. It was not just about the fear of judgment from my peers.
There also was an element of self-doubt reflected in questions about my own competence. Am I asking the right questions? Am I being sensitive enough to what client is saying? Am I going deep enough to explore their concerns? Are we developing a good rapport? I would say that the list goes on, but but you get the point.
But somehow I had to come to manage my anxiety. Otherwise this would be a misguided career choice. My first inclination was move to the concept of mindset. After all we learn from a young age to adopt a judger mindset, but all too often using a magnifying glass to accent our perceived flaws. Could I possibly adopt a learner’s mindset and perceive each coaching session as an opportunity to learn and expand my skills? I think I can. Of course I can!
Another gem that I learned in coaching was that the client comes first and that we are working to serve our clients. This does not mean to minimize our feelings. Rather it is learning how to manage and at the same time use our feelings to help clients move forward.
And with that I will share what I learned about myself and coaching from my first supervised session, which initially I hoped would never have come to pass. Overall, I did stay too much on the surface and was afraid to dig deeper with my client. You can know the dig deeper skill intellectually, but my anxiety blocked it from vision.
The other reality, which I had suspected, was not acknowledging enough of my client’s feelings, whether up or down, as if this belonged only to the realm of psychotherapy. My supervisor was sensitive enough to point out that this is a common problem for someone like me trained as a psychotherapist. Therefore, room for growth.
Anxiety in my own words also made it difficult to stay with and really listen to some of my client’s concerns. Going off track helped me to feel less anxious, of course, but at my client’s expense. I think that she would have felt more listened to and better understand had I not been so busy managing my own feelings rather than truly tending to hers.
These are the key observations from the supervision session and my take away is how much anxiety can hinder what we know and keep us from being as attuned as we can to our clients. Just writing about my experience allows for a little voice that says, “You did well and never underestimate the power of reflection on the learning process.”
It might be an interesting exercise for Positive Psychology Hub members to likewise share some of their supervisory experiences, especially those have led to learning and growth. We can all learn and grow from one another.