Introduction to Ontological Coaching
Ontological Coaching (a.k.a Transformational Coaching) uses techniques and skills involving Body (Somatic), Mind, Neurology and Language as component elements of the practice, enabling clients to become more aware and in control.
Ontology is a philosophy based upon the study or perception of the human way of ‘being’. It has been, for example, described as ‘an investigation into the nature of human existence’. In the coaching context is it described as the dynamic interplay between language, mood and physiology.
The approach of the coach is to facilitate the client in changing their ‘way of being’ to achieve the desired coaching outcomes. Ultimately to improve the quality of personal and professional existence. Ontological coaches are co-learners, continuously reflecting and learning with the client.
Ontological coaching is widely used in Australia and is Asian countries, spearheaded by the Newfield Institute but is much less known in the UK, however it rightly deserves its alternative title of Transformational
Coaching. When used skilfully it has the power to bring about significant and positive change in an individual.
How long have you known about Ontology?
I first discovered the use of ontological practice in 1992 whilst studying for a degree is Systems Analysis from which I graduated with a 1st Class Honours degree. I was fascinated by the philosophies of Martin Heidegger, J. L. Austin and John Searle together with the work of a number of Practitioners including Fernando Flores (the founder of Ontological Coaching) and Terry Winograd and Rafael Echeverria. I developed techniques and skills to deeply and profoundly understand what people ‘meant’ rather than what they ‘said’ in discussions around organisational systems when people were describing problems and requirements that they wanted to solve. I can honestly say that I have used what I learned to great effect as a change leader throughout my career with many successful outcomes.
I am still a Senior Leader and Director having worked in a number of challenging sectors and also as a Coach and Mentor, I find this powerful philosophy and practice to be just as effective in bringing a different kind of meaning and way of being to my clients and to myself.
Key elements of Ontological Coaching
Powerful Observation and Noticing: Gaining insight into your state of being through Language, Emotion, Mood and Somatic (Body).
Mindfulness: Martin Heidegger introduced also used the concept of Phenomenology which is that nature of understanding the world around us through how we experience it as a human being. The Ontological elements of this then sets the context that “Every human being exists in a continuous experience of living in the present moment.” Whilst I am not a Buddhist, I find the work of Thich Nhat Hanh (Zen Master) who bought mindfulness practice to Europe to be of real benefits to myself and clients in developing mindfulness techniques. I highly recommend the Plum Village App which is available for both iPhone and Android.
Language: Understanding how your use of language can have a profound effect on the world. Ontological Coaches see language as actions called ‘Speech Acts’ and you can find out more about this on my Blog - It is what you say and the way that you say it, that’s what get results.
Action: As you ‘Observe and Notice’ more about your own state of being - mind, body and emotional state you will become independent of the coaching arrangement to support yourself in make sustainable changes and engage more effectively with the world. As you grow in confidence, this enables you to take more meaningful action and change perceptions and behaviours for long term gain.
Creativity: I also believe in being creative in the coaching process and that the use of metaphor and tactile experiences can also be useful. This means sometimes I use Mood and Strength Cards, Mediating Objects, Story Cubes, Walking and Observing as ways to enable clients to form a four-dimensional a understanding of the work they do with me.
Benefits and outcomes
Some of the best outcomes for me have been to see clients who make significant and sometimes difficult changes in their lives for the better. Being more centred and content with themselves in their daily lives which gives confidence and a greater sense of connected-ness with colleagues, friends and family, something that I think is of paramount importance for us in the world we live in today.
If you are interested to find out more please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.