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Existential Coaching SASHA VAN DEURZEN-SMITH

Existential Coaching

Feb 13, 2017


Self Improvement

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Types of Coaching

Types of Coaching: Personal (Life Coaching) Executive Coaching Corporate Coaching Niche Coaching Group Coaching

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What is Coaching

AC Definition:"A collaborative solution-focused, results-orientated and systematic

process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee." 

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What is Coaching?

Future focussed Goal oriented (insight oriented) A therapeutic and co-constructed method of self-

development Assumes a basic level of robustness in the client Unregulated and in its infancy

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Client Groups and Case Studies

Autism Spectrum Disorder There is a need to be truly phenomenological Combination of depth and pragmatism

A next step from therapy Already able to self-reflect and face challenges Need to continue into practical applications

People who don’t know what they want The greatest gift for an existential coach Already embracing uncertainty – a blank slate

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Coaching and Therapy


Deciding who to refer: Examining robustness Examining sense of personal responsibility Examining any obvious ethical issues

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Doing-focussed Coaching




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Wheel of Life

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SMART Goals (Locke, 1968)

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GROW Model

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Merits of a Doing Approach

Often what the client is expecting as an outcome

Can get the job done quickly

The client may simply be struggling on a practical level

The Being may come from the Doing

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How can we bridge the gap between genuine self-acceptance and striving for better?

Is the client accepting herself as a being-for-itself?

Must there always be a goal?

If the client knows the goal, and a doing approach is sufficient to reach it – why haven’t they done it yet?

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Doing as a side-effect

How do I want to feel?

Who do I want to be?

How do I want to be?

What moves me?

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The Process

Working with what comes up and being confident that this holds insight

Forging a philosophical connection

Fumbling through the absurdity until we get to the meaning

The ability to sit together and try to identify what has so far been only implicit in the life of the client

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How do I want to feel?

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Feeling as an End-Point

Changing the target can have a profound effect This foregrounds a sense of being rather than reducing it to a side-


How do I want to feel at the end of the day/after this is finished?

What do I need to do to get there?

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Emotion = energy It must be channelled just as physical energy must be

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Working with Existential Tensions


(Good humour)











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Who do I want to be?

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Alter EgoUsed to explore another side of oneself without feeling attached to current identity

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Imaginary FriendsAct as an advisor or confidante. Someone whose knowledge we trust more than our own – provides access to tacit knowledge

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How do I want to be?

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Being with Others

Neutral Absorbent

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Being with Others

Domineering Influential

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Imagination and image work

Can be used to gain insight into a situation or dilemma To generate new ideas of the future or new choices To bring about a particular mood or action To find humour and freedom within a constraining situation To exercise and nurture the creative brain

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Image work

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What moves me?

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Noticing patterns of motivation and intention Art Emotional responses to the dialogue People are often shy to talk about inspiration and need to be

encouraged to explore the impact.E.g. ‘I know it was stupid, but it really stayed with me’

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When was the last time you were moved to tears by a piece of art?

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The Self and the Soul

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The 4 Worlds and Doing

Presenting Issue

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Motivation as a Push and Pull

I don't want to lose thisI want this

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How can we better align the push and pull in order to gain momentum?We need to understand the full impact of a change.

What will the client be giving up? How can they account for this rather than pulling the rug out from under their feet?

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A 4 Dimensional Inventory

EigenweltHow am I defining myself?

UberweltWhat are the values I am

aligned with?

UmweltHow am I managing

my physical space?

MitweltHow am I relating to


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Case Study: The Push

Home Life is Causing

Me Distress

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Case Study: The Pull

Home Life is Causing

Me Distress

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Zimbardo’s Time Perspective Inventory

Past NegativeRelive painful experiences, rumination, regret Past PositiveTake pleasure in reflecting on the past Present FatalisticIt doesn’t matter what I do, que sera sera Present HedonisticImpulsive, carpe diem, just want to enjoy self Future Planning, goal-setting, to do lists Transcendental FutureReligion or faith based, life after death

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Present: zone of activity, which includes all the other zones of time Remote past: zone of the obsolete and of history, including one’s own

life myths Mediate past: zone of loss and regret Immediate past: zone of remorse or grief Immediate future: zone of expectation Mediate future: zone of wish and hope or dread and anxiety. Remote future: zone of prayer and ethical action and also of ultimate

meaning of life.

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What Existential Coaching Contributes

Creating lasting, heartfelt change Enabling people to become philosophers in their own lives Uncovering alternative ways of being and getting to know onesself Owning up to one’s own responsibilities (whether we act on them or

not) Encouraging a kinder, gentler way of being that does not shirk the

challenges of life

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Thank You for Listening

• MA in Existential Coaching• PGDip in Existential Coaching• PGCert in Existential Coaching

All modules available as CPD

Tel:   +44 (0) 207 435 8067Email: [email protected] 

Existential Academy61-63 Fortune Green Road