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Research Paper: Art as a Coaching Tool

Posted by icoachacademy | June 6, 2012

By: Janhavi McKenzie Introduction

My intention in writing this research paper is to demonstrate how Art can be used as a beneficial and accessible coaching tool. In support of this tool, this paper will examine how art interfaces with the brain and the benefits it provides. It also shows how art and coaching allow one to coach to the depth of the client, providing access to the numinous within the client. Included are interviews with others who use art in the coaching process as well as experiments in coaching clients using art.

Why Art Works

Art can be used within the coaching process to achieve a variety of goals for the client by supporting varying processes and competencies that the coaching process provides. Examples of processes and competencies that art can support and transform for the client are self awareness, clarity, transformation of beliefs, removal of both inner and outer obstacles, motivation, and achievement of goals. Art and imagery provide concrete experiences that offer growth and stimulate creativity. Art can create lightness out of a situation that has too much seriousness or significance about it. It can foster positive feelings around a challenging issue. One doesnt need to be an artist to coach others using art as a tool nor do ones clients need to be artists in order to use art within the coaching relationship. hat is necessary for a coach is to understand what art can provide and a willingness to explore. !he willingness to explore or curiosity is already inherent within a coachs pallet so using art can be "uite easy from there. #isual art processes can include drawing, collage and found images. Imagery includes visuali$ation and metaphor which can have the same effect upon influencing the brain as art does. Art wor%s because it gives a view into what is going on behind the conscious mind. It taps into the unconscious mind, the part of the mind that is inaccessible to the conscious mind but that affects behavior and emotions. It reveals the mechanics of what is ma%ing a person act and ma%e choices in their particular way. !he mind doesnt distinguish between a real image and an imagined one. As much as one overcomes an obstacle in their imagination they are also overcome in the psyche, the conscious mind. !hus, art creates a bridge between the conscious mind and the unconscious wor%ing and informing in both directions. Art can bring that which is unconscious to the surface, to the conscious mind to create self awareness and transformation. And through art, a conscious thought, a dream or goal can be seeded within the unconscious mind whereby it can go to wor% to create the circumstances for that goal to come true such as in the case of #ision &oards. Art ma%es sense and order out of the confusion that occurs in the mind. hen the mind is as%ed to put things into visual images and on paper, clarity occurs because one can literally see what has been in ones thoughts. It is empowering to see a visual of ones thoughts, conscious or unconscious. !his concrete external visual provides order and restructuring within the mind. !he image provides an anchor, something for the mind to hold on to, that allows the conscious mind to rest and provides the unconscious mind time to reorgani$e and create something new. In this way through coaching, art can reveal hidden beliefs and transform them.

'or this research paper several people were interviewed who are using art as a coaching tool. One was (heri )aynor, a *sychotherapist, a +egistered Expressive Art !herapist, a ,ife -oach and Author of the boo% .-reative Awa%enings/ Envisioning the ,ife of 0our 1reams !hrough Art.2 Ms. )aynor said that by using art she finds that she has the ability to move clients from linear left brain thin%ing into right brain intuitive wisdom. .&y moving into the right brain clients move into the deep unconscious %nowing, a place that reflects the 'eminine receptive, a channeling from (ource.2 In wor%ing with clients Ms. )aynor says she meets clients where they are at. (he uses *owerful ,istening s%ills, intuition and conversation to guide her clients, to find out where they want to go. 3er coaching process has three parts/ identify 4 bring things to awareness, release and setting intention. hen she wor%s with art, she ma%es sure her clients %now .its not about a picture to hang on the wall.2 (he wor%s with clients in person as well as over the phone. (he finds that it is helpful to wor% with clients every two wee%s to give them time to process and digest what comes from the art. Another person I interviewed was Maureen 'ran% who coaches people through the medium of mandala drawings. hile spea%ing to her clients, Ms. 'ran% draws intuitive mandalas which reflect the clients concerns. hen as%ed how she

sees the efficacy of art, she replied .A picture is worth a thousand words. It explains, as well as brings out new and deeper insights and perspectives. It accesses information from the creative side rather than the analytical side.2 (he reflects that the benefit she sees coming out of this is .this 5mandala6 is the portal to the 1ivine.2 (he finds that the image is stronger than words and when combined with words, brings a balanced message to the whole brain, right and left sides. 'rom my interviews with both these women, I can conclude that art can clarify, transform and motivate clients forward in their lives by accessing the intuitive, non7linear part of the brain.

Client Explorations
!he following experiments show various ways such as drawing, collage and found images to wor% with art within the coaching relationship and the positive results that came from doing so. One client was dealing with an obstacle in her financial and business life. hen as%ed to imagine what it loo%ed li%e, she described it as a blac% blob sitting in front of her solar plexus. 8pon deeper "uestioning, she said it was there to protect her. As she wor%ed with the coaching process, the blac% blob transformed into a crystal. !he client too% on the assignment of drawing the blac% blob and the crystal. !he following wee% she emailed a 9peg of a paper in the shape of a circle. On one side she had drawn the blac% blob and on the other side was a beautiful drawing of a crystal mandala. hen she spo%e of the roc% she said .I li%e loo%ing at it. Im at peace with it.2 hen "uestioned about how she now regarded her boo%%eeping she said .!his isnt so bad 5wor%ing with numbers6:. I li%e wor%ing with numbers. Its a game.2 ithin this example we can observe that the client had an obstacle. ithin the coaching process of powerful "uestioning the client came up with her own images to describe the problem and the resolution. !his reflects a growth of self awareness, self acceptance and self love. It also reflects a transformation of belief. And lightness was created out of the seriousness of business and finance. &y ma%ing an art form out of it, the client could anchor the resolution into her psyche and then move forward with the reframing, motivation and progress toward her goal. Another client was wor%ing on growing her business. As she tal%ed about what strengths she brought into her business, she made a picture that had some colored lines and words defining her strengths. (he used it to wor% on her awareness, her ability and willingness to embrace and embody her strengths. ,ater, she did another picture of her strengths. In the next picture she used collaged images instead of words to depict her strengths. 3er awareness of her strengths shifted dramatically with the use images rather than words. hereas in the first picture, her awareness of her strengths had been ha$y and not anchored within her, when she put images to those words she found herself more easily identifying with her strengths, and consciously leaning into them to direct her actions towards her business goals and life ob9ectives. Another client was wor%ing within coaching on .Appropriate -hallenges.2 (he was as%ed, as an assignment, to find an image that reflected her .Appropriate -hallenge2. !hrough the internet she found an image that showed two gold fish bowls, one smaller than the other and a gold fish 9umping through the air from the smaller bowl to the larger one. (he reflected upon this image often during her coaching series. Initially, she saw the image as a representation of her process of moving toward her new goal. !his included s%ill sets she was bringing forward from her previous career, reflected in the symbol of the two bowls loo%ing ali%e but one being bigger. (he was the fish, a dancer who loves the experience of being in the air with her feet off the ground. 1ance was the vehicle ta%ing her to her next big step. One day she reflected that she felt she was in the small bowl and her session was conducted around that. (he often tal%ed about the large bowl and what it meant in terms of her personal self acceptance and s%ill development to get her to her goal. (he framed the picture and %ept it around as a reminder of her dreams and goals and her path towards them. !he path of the flight of the gold fish reflecting who she was within herself as well as the actions she was ta%ing to achieve her goals. !hese examples show how transformative art can be in ones inner life reflecting as well in the outer circumstances of goals and activities related to ones career and business.

The Numinous in Art and in Coaching

ithin coaching, art and imagery can be used as a tool to move a client forward with their innate sense of being and truth. A basic tenet of coaching is that the client %nows best what they need to do to ma%e changes in their life. International -oach Academy teacher ;amee !en$er said .!he client has their answer. As a coach we 9ust need to %eep as%ing them to go deeper within to find it2 Another I-A instructor ,eon #ander*ol, spo%e of how he .always coaches to the 1ivine in his clients.2 Artists and coaches wor%ing with art, ma%e a connection with art and the spiritual, the 1ivine. Art is a tool a coach can use to ta%e a client deeper into their own psyche, their unconscious, to the core of their being, to that place of (ource, the 1ivine within. !his will help the client find their answers, solve their challenges, become all they can be. hen a coach prompts the client with the "uestion . hat does that loo% li%e<2 he=she is inviting the client to reach with their imagination into the deeper part of their being to their core to find and create a picture that illuminates a greater awareness and insight to move them forward in their life. Author Mimi 'arrelly73ansen writes, .!hose of us who experience the art therapy process encounter imagery that

becomes numinous for us, telling of spiritual truth somehow both in us and beyond us, and also beyond words.2 -arl ;ung reflected that .the approach to the numinous is the real therapy and inasmuch as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology. Even the disease ta%es on a numinous "uality.2 In coaching we do not coach to pathology, but we can loo% to 1r. ;ungs words as an offering of how to direct our awareness and assist our clients in expanding their inner awareness, accepting and loving all parts of their self as we help them move through their challenges and achieve their goals.

Much more could be explored and written about regarding this sub9ect. 3ere it can be seen that art and imagery are accessible and powerful tools to help clients ma%e progress within the coaching process. Art, as a coaching tool, helps a client reach their inner depth, and in doing so provides clarity and motivation in moving a client forward toward inner and outer transformation, strength and achievement of life goals.

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3ass7-ohen, >oah, M.A., A.!.+.7&.-., ,.M.'.!. 5,os Angeles, ABBG6 Art !herapy and -linical >euroscience in Action, http/ ;ung, -.). 5FCHC6. ord and Image, *rinceton 8niversity *ress

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