Whole Person Coaching offers a comprehensive approach for working with a variety of individuals at the depths of change necessary to sustainably shift people, teams and organizations alike. Whether you’re confronting new challenges or have remained stuck and struggling for years, WPC fosters positive momentum through advanced tools and techniques rooted in best practices, moving from awareness into action and accountability through a rich and meaningful partnership.
As a result, these skills have been shown to influence modern business and the way we work – in particular, how we connect with our clients, customers and all those in the workplace. The tools of coaching foster collaboration, improving results through the interpersonal benefits they provide to individuals and organizations alike.
A lot of that is attributed to the fact that coaching facilitates an empowering partnership. In doing so, they help the client forge their unique path forward – one built just for them. Exclusive to the process of Whole Person Coaching, we call this generative, self-directed atmosphere “courageous space.” It’s a custom-made, learning-rich environment within which the client feels effective and self-trusting to navigate their own life in meaningful, rewarding ways, confident that anything is possible. And as they develop the confidence and competence they seek, they innately pass the gift along to help others do exactly the same!
With that in mind, I’d like you to consider Kelly McFarland. Kelly got into coaching early on in her professional career as a Posture Alignment Therapist. She has segued the tools and techniques she’s learned over the years into a dynamic program that has elevated her clients to entirely new and beautifully reimagined lives!
Here’s one example of how she did it.
A Whole Person Coach can improve more than one aspect of an individual’s life simultaneously. In fact, for health and well-being coaches, this practice is often a necessity, with symptoms inextricably linked to underlying causes.
And it’s within this specialized niche of coaching that we find Kelly McFarland. Kelly has been able to successfully leverage the power of coaching to dramatically improve her own life as well as the lives of her clients.
As a Certified Whole Person Wellness Coach and Posture Alignment Therapist at Egoscue (pronounced “e-gos-que”) in Portland, Ore., Kelly is using the tools and techniques of coaching to rapidly invite change, shift perspectives and ignite new behaviors in her clients. It’s worth noting that some of these individuals come to her in substantial physical pain and varying levels of disability.
The Egoscue Method uses the body’s natural capability to heal itself, addressing the root causes of pain to immediately begin eliminating it without prescription drugs or surgery. It’s an individually-tailored series of exercises shown to combat the muscle imbalances that cause pain. In doing so, it resets the body’s alignment, gait, posture and balance to a natural state of being. The personalized nature of this type of therapy makes Whole Person Coaching an ideal companion – a pairing that easily distinguishes its practitioners from those who only offer standard physical therapy services.
Coaching is an invaluable approach for transforming an individual’s life, propelling people toward success in any goal throughout a growing range of diverse industries. As Kelly will tell you, it was this aspect that drew her to coaching in the first place.
While working at the Egoscue corporate office in San Diego, Kelly joined a networking group and met a coach she describes as “dynamic and amazing.” They decided to trade services and Kelly instantly found herself turning around the tools, language and processes she picked up from her own coaching experience and repurposing them for use with her own therapy clients.
“It’s funny because the whole time I was working at the corporate office, I kept thinking “Gosh, there’s this disconnect between the technical side of what I was needing to do with my clients, in a therapeutic sense, and the communication that needed to happen to connect with them and get them to that deeper level of trust,” Kelly says, “a level that would help them sustain change in their life.
“But I found that, through working with this coach, she had the tools I was seeking – those critical communication skills. So I was a like a leech onto her. I couldn’t get enough! I was writing everything down as fast as I could, like ‘what was she doing to me, and how could I do that to other people?’”
One of the most formative tools Kelly picked up in those early sessions was the process of Strategic Life Planning. In short, it’s the deliberate mapping out – and, more importantly, writing down – of a list of the long-term and short-terms goals one hopes to achieve. For her Strategic Life Plan, Kelly wrote down a complete 5-year diagram, detailing in reverse where she wanted to be in five years, three years, one year, six months and three months. Her goals included everything from cultivating a great relationship that would transition into marriage to becoming the owner of a franchised business.
But we have to pause for just a minute. Because this is one of the (many) interesting aspects related to Kelly’s story. She was extremely specific in the layout of her plan, in particular the business aspect. Part of the precision came from not only achieving alignment with what she wanted, but also what she didn’t want. In this particular case, Kelly wanted to co-own a business, not be the sole owner.
Today, she and her husband Martin co-own the Egoscue clinic in Portland. These are just a couple of the many achievements that find Kelly successful in every single goal she had initially written down – and in less than five years!
After applying the work to her own life, and almost instantly realizing success, the limitless potential of coaching instilled in Kelly a strong desire to pass those skills onto others. So after she and Martin moved to Portland, the first thing she did when they got settled was to find a coach training school and get certified.
By adding the techniques into her personal toolkit, she was able to boost the success of her business and, more importantly, that of her therapy clients. Hands down, she cites this as the best thing that has happened to her, both in terms of becoming the master of her career but also within her specific vocation in the well-being industry.
“Coaching is 99 percent of what I do,” Kelly says. “I do so much interpersonal work with people! I would not be where I am today – both in my personal life and from a financial/business standpoint – without those tools.”
How does the reflective nature of Whole Person Coaching lead to sustainable change? Simple: by guiding the client to breakthroughs based on the insight inherent in their own story.
Simply giving someone the answer or, even worse, a blanket set of instructions is counterproductive in the long-run. This one-sided practice can also lead to a diminished interest in an individual’s natural instincts to learn and grow.
With these truths in mind, coaching does not teach, manage, or lead. It provides useful information in an engaging, personalized way that allows the client to move forward independently – empowering them to become responsible for and proactive regarding their own outcome.
Professional Whole Person Coaches learn how to leverage their individual expertise and pair them with engaging communication tools and techniques to achieve active participation. Strongly focused on the lost art of listening, coaching is able to reflect revealing aspects of a client’s story to produce:
- Long-Term Improvement and Excellence: WPC motivates and supports a client to accomplish the specific objectives and verifiable standards of excellence that the two of you have established together by promoting the value inherent in the results when considering a long-term point of view. (Example: Kelly and her first experience with a coach in San Diego!)
- Self-Correction: When something isn’t producing the desired results, WPC empowers clients to make the changes they seek by analyzing their current standing and then shifting their independent adjustments based on their own assessment. This practice can have a tremendous impact on an individual’s growth – mentally, physically and spiritually!
- Individual Development: Encouraging clients to think for themselves is one of the most remarkable aspects of Whole Person Coaching. It’s also one of the secret ingredients that has begun to change business as a whole and, in particular, the health and well-being industry. A Whole Person Coach provides the tools that enable an individual to grow, encouraging them to explore and discover specific ways to improve their lives by addressing the issues that are unique to them.
By reflecting patterns of limiting behaviors and working with the client to establish realistic goals, the coach supports the client in the creation of a sustainable wellness blueprint – an individually-tailored combination that results in wholeness, personal fulfillment and success throughout their life.
“Coaching allows you to build these amazing loving, lasting relationships,” Kelly says. “Every time I leave a session where I’ve done coaching with a client, I have goosebumps! I feel so energized – it’s just like this beautiful connection between the two souls, the two people that have danced in that coaching session. It’s just the best feeling in the world. It’s my highest joy! And that’s the ultimate relationship, when you can get to that level of trust, communication and change.”
Kelly illustrates this concept perfectly with a recent example from her clinic.
She has a client, Jenny, who came to Egoscue in considerable pain. Jenny could barely walk or move and had terrible pain in her feet and hips. In addition, she also has an auto-immune disorder that attacks her body. This condition incapacitates her for long periods of time as her body is unable to recover or progress very fast. For Jenny, pain management and healing have traditionally been a slow process. And as a result, her first few sessions with Kelly were highly emotional.
Jenny was angry at her body, angry at the fact that she couldn’t walk or do the things she wanted anymore. So Kelly ended up putting on her coaching hat for most of the session and she quickly realized that, in order for the physical to change, Jenny’s mental and emotional state of mind needed a reboot.
Bound up by a wide range of internal and external influences, Jenny was standing in her own way in terms of her career and life as a whole. At the time, she was in a job she didn’t really find fulfilling, needing more pay but working for a company that wasn’t willing to pay her more. She also had someone close to her that was very taxing on her, affecting her physically as well as mentally and emotionally.
“She had all this working against her, culminating in more pain and more limitations in her life,” Kelly says. “So for the first six sessions, we were going really deep into the patterns within her life. I mirrored back to her a lot of the cycles and thought-patterns she was going through that were contributing to her being in her own way. And it was that aspect of coaching that really led to the breakthrough in her therapy… and so much more!”
Though she initially came in to work with the pain and physical issues, Jenny was shown the interrelated nature of these symptoms to their corresponding aspects throughout her life as a whole. As Kelly asked thoughtful questions and mirrored back the answers, Jenny saw the other issues that were actually contributing to the pain – in particular the relationship between her thoughts and those patterns. In short, she unlocked her mind and started thinking in different ways.
But as with any growth process, it wasn’t without a few bumps in the road.
There was one really critical two-week period where Jenny had a full-on spasm in her back. Basically, her whole back went out. So for two weeks she was on the floor at the clinic with Kelly. And it was an emotional process – so much was coming up.
“When you start dealing with the physical and you get into the body experience, you’re getting right into coaching territory,” Kelly says. “It’s like ‘OK, what else needs to happen to change’. So I had to be there to help support her mental state – not in a therapeutic, psychological sort of way, but in a way that didn’t allow her to get stuck in her old patterns. Instead, she was able to look at the information and use it to move forward. And with our work, she was out of pain and back to her life in less than two weeks, which is pretty remarkable!”
To keep Jenny’s progress moving forward through this fragile state, Kelly used a combination of reflection and clarifying questions, including:
- How is it you want this situation to look?
- Does it have to look the way you’re looking at it right now?
- If anything is possible, what is it you want and need?
- In what ways can you begin to ask for what you need and take steps to start making those things happen to get what you need?
This gradual, step-by-step process eventually led Jenny to a crucial turning point. She loves the theatre, and teaches a very specific approach known as the Meisner acting technique (similar to coaching but for actors). Therefore it comes as no surprise that Jenny loves movies and TV. Rightfully so. They provide exposure to the techniques and artistry of her craft. But at this point in time, she was not teaching classes. And without that physical outlet, Jenny had become stuck in a pattern of watching more and more TV, frequently foregoing her exercises and sabotaging her therapy and physical condition as a result.
So in one of their sessions together, Kelly posed the following to her: “Wow, I can understand why you really love those shows. Is there a correlation between this passionate need you’ve created regarding them and the relationship you’ve developed to fulfill this need of yours, given that you’re not an acting coach right now, and you don’t have your theater outlet at the moment?”
And that was the shifting point.
“It was right on – it really hit her deep,” Kelly says. “She was like ‘Oh my gosh! I’ve just been sitting on my couch, living my life through the TV. I haven’t been out actually living my life in the theater anymore. That’s what I miss and what I’m sad about. That’s what’s really missing in my life’! That was a huge turning point for her.”
Jenny’s personal history had changed. And she was trying to hold onto that past history in another form in the present. Realizing that, Kelly was able to help Jenny reframe and break through her sabotaging behaviors by reflecting back what they were symbolically feeding.
“She had this day-to-day job where she had to make money, but it’s not what she really wanted to do in life so she was spending all this time going to movies and watching TV,” Kelly says. “Then when it would come to her exercises, she would say ‘I don’t have time’. But when I dug into the timeframe, we uncovered the truth about the shows and what was behind that. It sort of uncovered itself – she was using that as her way to connect with her true self and what she really loved. But it wasn’t in an active way, it was passive.”
Whole Person Coaching relies on trust established within a courageous space. With that in place, there’s no reason every story can’t have a happy ending.
Kelly will be the first to tell you: Jenny is doing amazing! She has reclaimed her life. But even that doesn’t go far enough to describe her transition. She’s actually created an entirely new life – an idealized life that’s in alignment with her true goals and desires.
Since working with Kelly, Jenny has begun hiking again, made a website, started an acting class, and has moved forward in her own new way. She’s also opened up two separate businesses and is trying to become her own independent business owner. She even used the tools of coaching herself to transform the relationship in her life that was so difficult.
Best of all, she’s doing it with the attitude: ‘if no one will give me a break, I’m going to prove to them that I’m great at what I do by showcasing my ability and techniques’. And it’s that mindset that can be put to use in any aspect of an individual’s life, getting people out of their own way and opening the door to limitless possibilities.
“I think the most important thing about coaching for me is that it’s given me the confidence to trust in my own intuition – that I don’t have to be the expert,” Kelly says. “I can just reflect and ask curious, open-ended questions about where they’re at in their life and what it is they want to create and change. That’s helped me become such a better listener. But more importantly, it’s allowed me to build the layer of trust – that’s really what it’s all about.
“You can go far in the coaching process if you’ve got that trust with you. Because when you’re able to see the whole person, everything just really opens up and you start seeing the patterns and how the different aspects are interacting to create a deeper meaning. Some areas are stuck, but they have these skills in other areas that they can apply to the stuck areas to help them move forward. And it absolutely transforms their lives! That’s what it’s all about for me.”