Guest blog by Shanon Deyerle
Shanon Deyerle holds a Master’s degree in Counseling. As a Therapeutic Coach, she combines counseling and coaching skills into working relationships marked by partnership, empathy, and progress. Her positive spirit, intuitive nature, and constant curiosity are core to her work and life. She is passionate about using her personal experiences with perfectionism and codependency to help others learn a core lesson: to love and accept themselves fully and live the life they are meant for and deserve!
How to Use the Technique of Immediacy
There can be so much to remember when working in a session with a client. When I was a new coach, I felt I had to accomplish everything at once.
I even had a checklist in my head:
- maintain the structure of the session;
- define the goals;
- use active listening techniques;
- do the recap;
- assign homework…
… and always maintain a safe space.
It was all important, and got overwhelming at times. Eventually I realized that trying to hold it all in mind was taking away from my ability to be really present with, and for, my client.
I’ve found one thing really helpful as I navigate the challenge of managing a session with the intentionality of being present with and supportive of my client. It’s the technique of immediacy, and I’d like to share it with you.
What is Immediacy?
Simply put, immediacy is a technique that acknowledges what’s happening in the moment: either for the client, for the coach, or within the coaching relationship itself.
It’s a tool that you can use - always with support and empathy - to gently share something that you’re noticing right then and there.
And in doing so, you can safely transform emotion, resistance, incongruence, or avoidance into information that can be used for client change.
Let’s dig in to when, how, and why this works so well!
When To Use It
You can engage in reflective listening, ask open ended questions, talk about steps toward a goal - and STILL have the sense in session that things are out of sync, or something isn’t working. These are the moments in which immediacy can help.
Here are some common ways you might experience this:
1) You find yourself picking up on something in a session with a client but you’re not sure what it is (what is the client feeling right now? what’s keeping the client from digging into it?).
2) The client says one thing but their body language is saying another.
3) There is unproductive, or even resistant silence.
(Silence can be a useful tool in the coaching space; it allows for a client to consider what they may be thinking or feeling, and get the courage or find the words to express it. But sometimes silence isn’t productive. It can be confusing, empty, or just a big roadblock.)
4) The relationship between the two of you is not functioning well.
The benefit of developing a healthy relationship within a coaching setting is an often overlooked piece of the process for a client. For example, if a client has issues with trust, and learns to trust their coach through a healthy partnership, they will have a new blueprint for how to experience trust in their life outside of coaching.
So, if there is an issue between the coach and client that is derailing the client’s progress, it’s important to address it. Immediacy is a way to do that.
How To Use It
Remember, immediacy is about acknowledging what may be happening for the coach, the client, or within the relationship itself.
In each of the scenarios above, the coach can take the opportunity to share an observation in real time about what is happening, bringing it forward to see what information it holds.
Here’s a breakdown of how that might look (and for whom the issue is presenting), with an awareness of the goal - and a few more examples for good measure:
Why Immediacy Works
Immediacy takes the moment in which a client is feeling something, avoiding something, lacking awareness, or needing a gentle push to see what’s really happening … and just brings it forward into the shared, safe space of the session.
This gives the client the opportunity not only to explore the topic or feeling at hand, but also to explore addressing the challenging topic or feeling in the moment, within a healthy, safe relationship and space.
So both the issue and the addressing of it together as coach and client are mined for information, and given attention for significant growth.
How simple and powerful is that?!
Use Caution As You Use Immediacy
You’ll notice there's a certain level of self-disclosure on the part of the coach when using this technique.
Since coaching is a partnership, we have less to worry about in terms of sharing pieces of our experience than a psychologist or therapist might. There’s no power differential we have to preserve.
But, as you consider immediacy, it’s important to be aware of your intention and goal.
When you share your own experience, I believe it should always be in the client’s best interest to do so.
Here are a few tips as you practice immediacy in your own work:
- Always lead with empathy.
- Keep safety for your client a priority.
- Check yourself to determine if this is your own issue impacting things… one that has nothing to with the client.
I know this can all sound challenging, but it’s really about being present to the client with empathy and care, and checking in on the space between you regularly for information and energy.
Don’t be afraid to use immediacy when you need it! It’s a powerful, useful technique that will allow for presence and growth.
Want to Become A Coach?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Shanon ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.