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Massage Today
February, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 02

Share with Your Clients the Cure for Drive-By Healing

By Sharon Desjarlais, CC and Michele McGrew

Sandy, a craniosacral therapist with a quick laugh, loves watching her clients' expressions when they get their first taste of freedom from pain. "I feel like a magician!" she says. Her only complaint? "I wish they'd stick around longer.

They feel good after a session or two. Can you imagine how they'd feel after a few months?" Sandy is suffering with what we lovingly call Drive-By Healing Syndrome. The cure? Offering outcome-based programs designed to help your clients achieve major breakthroughs or a total transformation in their health and well-being and in their lives.

We laid out the structure for a strong holistic program in "Six Steps to Help You Establish a Six Figure Practice" (April, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 04). Now, here's the glue that holds it all together: holistic coaching. Holistic coaching is a set of skills that gives your clients the opportunity to reveal and fulfill their most inspiring goals. And, in the context of healing, you have valid reasons to offer programs that help your clients reach those goals in empowering ways they never could have achieved alone.

The challenge comes in setting winning coaching goals, which require a healthy dose of expertise and intuition. You're asking your clients to project themselves into the future, which can be tricky because they may not know what's possible or realistic. That's why, as their coach and health advocate, it's your responsibility to help your clients set compelling and achievable goals. Then every session in your program, whether it's hands-on or by phone, leads them toward those desired outcomes.

crystal ball - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark RAS: The Goalie of the Mind

Because goals, like dreams, are set in the future, they ultimately reflect your clients' subconscious beliefs about what's possible for them. And those beliefs are governed by the brain's Reticular Activating System (RAS), which acts as a filter between the subconscious and the conscious mind. The RAS is a complex network of nerve cells and fibers that regulates our cardiovascular, respiratory and motor responses. It also receives all the sensory signals that come in through the central nervous system, and then it filters out what you become aware of based on what has meaning for you.

Have you ever bought a new car and then noticed that same model popping up everywhere almost overnight? That's your RAS at work bringing information into your awareness that normally would have remained in your subconscious mind. In that same way, when you consciously focus on achieving a specific goal that has purpose and meaning, your intention seeps into your subconscious mind where your RAS can watch for solutions for you.

Winning Coaching Goals

After coaching clients for nearly a decade, we've found four key conditions most helpful in setting and achieving winning goals:

1. They're specific and described in the positive.

All too often, clients come to the table with goals that aren't detailed enough for them to know when they've reached them. "I want to feel better" and "I want to lose weight" are moving targets that are difficult to measure. To help your clients transform their health and well-being in dramatic ways over time, their goals must be specific and meaningful enough to seriously motivate them. So you might ask questions like:

  • "What do you want to be able to do once you've achieved this goal?"
  • "What does success look like and feel like to you?"
  • "Why is being able to achieve this goal important to you?"
  • "Who will you get to be in the world once you've reached that goal?"

Notice, too, if your clients' goals are more about what they don't want rather than what they do want. If your clients are saying something like, "I don't want to feel pain when I wake up in the morning," the RAS will go rooting through the subconscious mind for something that matches "pain when I wake up in the morning." Ouch! Instead, ask your clients to swap those "don't wants" for "do wants." Saying something like, "I want to feel calm and energized when I wake up in the morning," triggers the RAS to search for feelings of calmness and energy, and bring them to the surface.

2. They're in your clients' control.

Have you ever thought everything in your life would be awesome if everyone else would just behave? (Haven't we all?) There's just one big glitch in that plan: We have zero control over other people. That's why your clients can only reach goals that are in their personal control. Imagine a client recovering from cancer who wants her doctors to stop talking down to her. Since she can only control her own actions and attitude, she could set an intention to be more relaxed, direct and assertive with her doctors. Or (here's an advanced coaching tip), you can ask her a powerful "reframe" question like this:

"What if your doctor talking down to you was no longer important to you?"

Whether she's changing her action or her attitude, your client is changing something in her control. So she's much more likely to achieve the outcome she wants.

3. Your clients must be able to tell when they've achieved them.

Coaching in the sports world is designed to help athletes reach or exceed their performance goals. While the same may be true in the health arena, your clients typically have much more at stake than a medal. Often, their entire quality of life is on the line. Yet thanks to the help of a supercharged RAS, each new success your clients achieve in any area of their lives will expand their capacity to succeed in every area of their lives. Why? Because the RAS will be looking for success and bringing it into your clients' awareness.

That's why it's crucial to encourage your clients to embody every win, big or small. They need to know when they've reached their milestones so they can celebrate and acknowledge themselves. You can help by asking coaching questions like these:

  • "How will you know when you've achieved your goal?"
  • "How will you feel when you get there?"
  • "What images, emotions and sounds will you experience?"
  • "Imagine you're running a movie of you reaching your goal. What do you see happening in the scene?"

Remember, the more specific the answers, the easier it is to help your clients chunk them down into action steps that'll get them to the finish line.

4. They must be in alignment with everything else your clients value.

No matter what your clients want to achieve with your help, if there's any sense of conflict with the rest of their lives, the subconscious mind will cause them to sabotage their success. For example, if your client wants to get well enough to travel around the world, but she's a stay-at-home mom with two young children at home, she may be running a subconscious script that says reaching her goal will hurt her kids. Until she brings that belief into the light and questions it, she'll almost certainly fall short of her goal.

Now, the process of shifting beliefs is so critical to holistic coaching, we could easily write an entire book about it. (And we may!) For now, just remember to ask your clients coaching questions like these:

  • "What are you afraid you'll have to let go of if you achieve that goal?"
  • "Is that true?"
  • "Can you restate or recreate that goal so it's in alignment with those things that are important to you?"

When you use criteria like these to help your clients set empowering coaching goals, you help their RAS make their boldest desires real. Like magic.

Click here for more information about Sharon Desjarlais, CC.


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