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Ontological coaching? What the phenomenology is that?

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Part of the aim of my blogs on Elnor's Corner is to demystify some of the topics and themes involved with coaching. I certainly don't want to reinvent the wheel, but I do want to facilitate and ignite interest, get people to think and above all build a community. I'm exploring, so to speak, and I'm really interested in ontology in itself as well as its application in coaching.

What is Ontology?

Ontology to put it simply it's about the nature of being (human). As a subject in coaching, there are some real experts out there and I want to signpost where possible to build a body of knowledge, which I've done in the links below. In later blogs, I will explain why I think ontology and another concept called phenomenology, which put very simply is about making sense of the world through experiences, are really important to coaching practice or at least to my coaching practice. However, even in some small way, I hope I can tease you enough for you to look into it. I will blog more on the subject and continue to develop the site.

What is ontological coaching?

Ontological coaching is a type of coaching that focuses on helping clients understand and transform their beliefs, values, and assumptions about the world and themselves. The approach is based on the idea that individuals' perception and understanding of the world shapes their reality and impacts their behaviour. By understanding and transforming these underlying beliefs and assumptions, clients can create change and achieve their goals.

Ontological coaching often uses tools and techniques from a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, psychology, and philosophy, to help clients explore and transform their beliefs and assumptions. Coaches may use questioning, reflective listening, and other methods to help clients gain a deeper understanding of their worldview and identify areas that may be holding them back from achieving their goals.

The goal of ontological coaching is to help clients develop a more empowering and authentic understanding of themselves and the world, which can lead to improved communication, collaboration, and performance. It is often used in a variety of settings, including personal development, organizational development, and management.

It's worth mentioning that ontological coaching has its roots in the work of Argentine philosopher and psychologist Enrique Pestalozzi and Argentine philosopher, psychologist, and educator Humberto Maturana. Pestalozzi proposed the idea that individuals can change their ontological stance, which refers to their underlying understanding of the nature of reality, and that this change can lead to a change in behaviour and in the way they live their lives. Maturana's work focuses on the concept of "structural coupling," which refers to the way individuals interact with their environment and how this interaction shapes their understanding of reality.

Alan Sieler and Ontological Coaching

We are a big fan of Alan Sieler and his work on Ontological Coaching. Alan is a coach, consultant and author known for his work in the field of ontological coaching. He is the founder of the International Society for Ontological Coaching and the author of several books on ontological coaching, including "The Ontological Coach: New Pathways to Personal and Professional Development" and "The Ontological Coach: A New Paradigm for Coaching and Leadership."

Sieler has been working with the ontological coaching approach for over 20 years and has developed a unique approach to coaching, which he calls "Radical Coaching." He emphasizes the importance of understanding the underlying assumptions, beliefs, and values that shape individuals' understanding of reality and how these can be transformed to create change.

He is an advocate of using a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on philosophy, linguistics, and neuroscience to help clients understand and transform their beliefs and assumptions in order to achieve their goals. Sieler also emphasizes the importance of being present and attentive in the coaching process and developing a deep understanding of the client's context.

Sieler has worked with a wide range of clients, including individuals, teams, and organizations. He has also trained and certified coaches in ontological coaching and has written several books and articles on the subject.

Overall, Alan Sieler is a prominent figure in the field of ontological coaching and his work has been influential in the development of this approach to coaching. He has developed a unique approach to ontological coaching and has trained and certified many coaches in this method.

If you are interested to find out more, read some more of the Blogs, try these for starters.

Also read:

and check out Alan's organisation, the Ontological Coaching Institute.

Ontological coaching and Phenomenology are intrinsically linked.  This image depicts a small boy deep in thought, observing what is around him whilst he sits in a go cart.
What are you doing? Just Being....


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