My colleague Svea van der Hoorn from South Africa reminded me the other day that in many coaching books and in many coach trainings the focus is mainly on helping coaching students run a first session. Svea also said that this is quite unfortunate as the majority of coaching sessions will be sessions after the initial session unless someone only does single session coaching .
Here is our flowchart for structuring subsequent sessions in partnership with your client:
1. Partner with your client to decide whether they want to do a recap of the learnings between sessions or whether there is something urgent that they would like to jump into right away.
In Solution Focused coaching we have a strong preference for asking the person “what’s been better since last time we spoke?” as this focuses our client’s attention to the progress he or she has been making. It generates hope, celebrates successes and makes the client stronger. However, if there is something that is urgent and that the fore of the client’s mind it might be better to jump into this topic and partnership with the client rather than assuming we know where the client should go in this coaching session.
• If the client wants to go on with the new topic, we can treat the second session as the first session on the new topic. The only difference may be that after the urgent topic has been discussed, we still ask the question on what’s been better since last time we spoke.
• If the client wants to explore what’s been better since the last session, we can ask about what the client did, what difference it made, who noticed this difference or what the client learned about him or herself regarding this topic.
2. When all the learnings have been captured or when the client indicates that it is now time to move on, we start with the new coaching agreement. There is also is another choice to make:
• If this is an entirely new topic that is not related or far from the old topic, we enter into this almost like a first session: what are the client’s best hopes, what does the rich picture of the desired future look like, what are signs of the successful past regarding this topic and what would it look like if the client started moving toward his or her rich picture of the desired future?
• Maybe the client wants to continue with the same topic but wants to look at a different aspect or continue on the path he or she is pursuing. For example, the client would like to generally improve his or her time management and in the first session they worked on getting up early in the morning. In the second session they might want to tackle finishing work before the deadline. So the general topic is the same but the sessions are around different “subtopics”. In this case it is sometimes not necessary to ask a lot about the rich picture of the desired future because that would be a repetition of the first session. The session then moves from the coaching agreement (including why this is important for the client, what gives him or her hope that this can be achieved etc.) directly to when the client has already been able to do something like what he or she wants to achieve in this session. In a Solution Focused session you with an invite the client to explore signs of progress.
I realize that this sounds a bit complicated . We are currently working on producing a video series that includes a first session and to subsequent sessions — do subscribe to our YouTube channel in order to be informed about our updates: www.youtube.com/SolutionsAcademy/