Case Study: Rachel
My coaching work with Rachel Cooke, a London-based psychotherapist, was brief by design at just six sessions. She was doing well overall, but had difficulties in one area of her life that she wanted to target. She was willing to try new things and as a therapist, she already had a great deal of insight for us to work with. So, we got down to work for a limited amount of intensive personal coaching over Skype.
Below are her perspective on the process, and mine, which helps to illustrate a client's experience of coaching, and my way of thinking about helping my clients achieve the life that fits them just right.
I came to Jim at a time when I didn’t feel I was particularly struggling, but I was nearing the end of another expired relationship and had had enough of whatever pattern was keeping me stuck. Or should I say, whatever pattern I was keeping myself stuck in!
Having entered my 30s and gone through many long-term relationships, I was tired of choosing to be with men where I would wait two years to eventually admit to myself that I didn’t want or see a future for us.
I help my own therapy clients to build their self esteem, self awareness and to live an authentic, fulfilling life . . . so why wasn’t I living that myself?
By no means did or do I think that could only be possible with a partner, it was that I was trying to convince myself these people were right for me when it hadn’t felt quite right from the beginning.
Jim’s Right Life Project site, blog and podcasts resonated with me so strongly that I couldn’t imagine a better person to help me. In the few weeks between first contacting Jim and starting our work I had some traumatic family issues come up and had to fly home early from a trip to be with them.
I was worried that I would somehow “waste” my precious time with Jim on my family problems that I knew would just need time to be worked out, when I really wanted to address my relationship pattern. I didn’t need to be concerned.
Jim has a way of cutting through the details to get to the heart of the matter in a very short time. I felt more seen and heard by him than any other person or even therapist I’ve had in my life, even though ours was a coaching relationship.
He has an incredible aura about him and support just flows out of him. It’s difficult not to be imbued by his gentle, compassionate presence, while also feeling a real sense of hope and motivation to move forward.
I expressed myself more vulnerably in our coaching sessions than I have in years, and Jim is able to hold that space with exquisite delicacy. It was a profound experience for me.
A major shift occurred for me in just six sessions. I am now able to recognize, in the moment, when I am over-cerebralizing as an avoidance technique. Rather than frantically trying to rationalize a situation or feeling, I am now consistently able to drop into my core self to find out what’s going on for me, and then act (or not, if I choose) on that.
No more doubting myself from the get go. No more intellectualizing ad absurdum! This has allowed me to be far more truthful with myself and others, while maintaining my compassion. For me that’s the crux of authenticity: being real, being me, but with care. It’s helping me to build my relationship with myself and with others to a degree that I barely thought possible.
I am so grateful to Jim for his time and care. I felt truly accepted and understood by him and know that he could and would do the same for anyone. He is not just an exceptionally talented coach, he is a really warm, genuine and funny person who has put lots of hard work into being brilliant at what he does.
I don’t just recommend him, whatever the issue in your life, I implore you to seek him out and let him catalyse a shift in your world.
Even professional helpers want a helping hand sometimes. That was the case with Rachel Cooke, MA, a successful London-based coach and psychotherapist.
She contacted me, seeking personal coaching to work on a sticky, recurring pattern of entering and maintaining long-term relationships with men who didn’t share her values. Adding to her frustration, Rachel was often aware of their fundamental incompatibility early on.
Rachel is smart, insightful, and motivated by things that really matter, like connection, intimacy, generosity, and meaning. However, her actions kept leading her away from the type of connection and communication she knew was vital if she wanted to have a truly fulfilling partnership.
So, it wasn’t a matter of not knowing what she wanted, but of Rachel’s most core self not being active in the world. It was being obscured by a shell of old thought and behavior patterns that had once kept her safe, but which had run their course, and were now keeping her stuck.
We started by looking at specific examples of past relationships to determine what was happening on those occasions when she made choices inconsistent with her long-term well-being.
Sometimes, ironically, it was when she felt compelled to get it right. Her fear of making mistakes had its roots in childhood, and she had come to mistrust even her own inner wisdom and judgment as an adult. Other times, it was when Rachel felt unable to trust other people.
Once some of these issues were uncovered, we got to work sorting them out. I asked Rachel to have conversations with others in her life, and to write a letter to herself—from the standpoint of her seven-year-old self. That was just one part of our work that allowed her to connect with her core authenticity and vulnerability, and begin to move forward.
I helped Rachel gain clarity about her fears, including the qualities of herself and the circumstances of her life that she was avoiding. Then I helped her pair those up with values that she could move toward, and we came up with real-world strategies to begin using.
When your intentions and actions are aligned with your core self—your unique configuration of the deep, uniquely human, needs and capacities that we all have—you’re unstoppable. And, sure enough, as we neared the end of our work together, Rachel had a new level of clarity and belief in herself, along with a roadmap of where to go from there.
Now she doesn’t just know what she wants, but how to get it. She is approaching new relationships with the same desire for connection and concern for others that she always had, but now she trusts her own wisdom, and acts in alignment with it.
It turns out, that internal alignment has been helpful in other areas of her life, too. She has seen positive changes in her relationships with her extended family and friends, feels that our work together has sparked her creative side, and says that she is living with more conscious presence, joy and purpose than ever before.