How the Graph of Life Tool Helps Individuals

I met with Joan for the first time last week. As I do with all of my clients, a week before our initial meeting I sent her a welcome packet. According to Collins (2009), it can be beneficial to explain to clients the difference between coaching and counseling, so I adapted the fact sheet he provides in his book Christian Coaching and included that in my packet. I also included a copy of the contract, my initial questionnaire, and Collin’s (2009) Graph of Life tool, as I know that it is important to set the tone for the coaching relationship in the first meeting.

I try to give my clients the proper tools and information needed in order for our coaching sessions to go smoothly and for there to be mutual respect built between us (Collins, 2009). In our initial meeting I learned that Joan is 45 years old, has been married for 20 years, and has two children in school. Jennifer has a very stressful job as a program director for an agency that works with children in the foster care system. Also, Joan’s mother had been living with her family until recently, when she was moved to a nursing home so that she could receive the 24/7 care that she needed.

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Because I was sensing that Joan might be experiencing burnout like many individuals in helping professions do, I started to ask her some of the questions that I had learned from The Quick Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling (Clinton & Hawkins, 2009, p. 55), such as how she was feeling physically and emotionally. She explained that she feels tired all of the time, but has difficulty shutting her mind off at night. She also explained that sometimes she feels like she has nothing else to give.

I continued to ask questions to help me see a better picture of the effect that burnout was having on her and also to help Joan to develop a level of trust with me. The final task for me was for me to discuss Joan’s Graph of Life with her to better determine where she is now and where she would like to head (Collins, 2009). Not surprisingly, Joan scored the lowest in the areas of her mental/emotional health, friends/social life, recreation/relaxation, lifestyle and personal spiritual life. We determined that Joan’s largest aps from where she is to where she wants to be are in the areas of mental/emotional health, lifestyle, and her personal spiritual life. I explained that we would spend most of our coaching sessions focusing on the three areas with the largest gaps. I also explained that by addressing these areas, Joan might see improvement in her satisfaction levels in the other areas as well. In using the Graph of Life tool with my client, I can see how it can help client’s determine that they want to change by visually showing them their dissatisfaction and would definitely use this tool with clients in the future.

Like Collins (2009) says, getting a client to the point where they recognize their need for change “is where the coaching start[s]” (p. 60). I was encouraged by Joan’s reaction to the assessment and her willingness to try the tools. It is obvious that she is committed to changing When I completed the assessment on myself, I was surprised to realize that I am unsatisfied in the areas of physical health and lifestyle. Since I was forced to analyze my situation, I realized that I am not fulfilled in these areas.

Therefore, I have decided to step away from my responsibility as the director for the church meal train program and rather to volunteer to cook one meal a month. I also have determined to wake up 30 minutes early on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in order to exercise. I know that my body is God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16) and it is important for me to take care of myself.

References:

Clinton, T. , & Hawkins, R. (2009). The quick-reference guide to biblical counseling. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. Collins, G. R. (2009). Christian coaching: Helping others turn potential into reality. (2nd ed. ). Colorado Springs, CO: Nav Press.

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