Extensive brain research indicates that what we think about and do on a regular basis actually wires our brains. Our thoughts and actions create new neural pathways and can wear deep grooves in our brains. We can re-wire the brain when we learn new skills or patterns of thought, but this has to be intentional.
When we are focused on the negative, this tends to reinforce negative thinking patterns—it creates patterns of learned helplessness, where we believe that our actions don’t have an impact in the world so we don’t even try. We will focus first on challenges and then these will seem so overwhelming that we give up on working with anything else. For people with disabilities, this can be an especially powerful “bad habit” depending on their previous experiences.
Vision Boards—can be done on poster board or smaller sheets of sturdy paper Respond to a prompt (see next slide)—cut out images, words, etc. from magazines. Can add their own drawings, writing, words, pictures that they’ve taken, etc. Idea is to customize and use images to respond to the question. After customer completes, have them tell you the story of the board—what do the images represent? What do they say about what the person is looking for? Is there any significance to how the images are arranged? What can this tell you about the person’s dreams, aspirations, etc. Let the customer do most of the talking—you ask questions to draw out more details. Use the vision board as an aid to planning and as ongoing inspiration—suggest that the customer display it in a prominent place in their home where they can be reminded daily of what they’re working toward. Encourage them to share with their support network—family, friends, etc.
These are possible vision board prompts—people can do more than one or you can work with them to find the best one.
Another way to help someone focus on dreams and aspirations is through positive interviews. This is a technique where we use positive questions to draw out what inspires and motivates the customer.
As we’ve discussed, what you focus on grows in someone’s mind—the question starts you thinking in particular positive or negative directions. Notice the difference in how the mind starts flowing depending on whether you work with the questions on the left or the right.
Turn the normal interview you do into a positive interview by asking different questions—start with questions that will inspire, engage, and motivate. These are questions that help someone envision an ideal future. They can help you get at their dreams. Have group suggest other questions that could be asked as part of a positive interview format.
Journals are another great tool for reflection—can be written or visual. People can use collage, drawings, pictures they’ve taken, etc. to do a journal entry. Journals can also be audio or video—the person can record themselves talking about an experience. Any of the positive questions we’ve discussed can be used as a journaling prompt. We’ll be discussing more potential prompts when we talk about building positive habits with people in a few minutes. Journaling is a great thing to do after a particular experience—a job interview, to reflect on what they liked in their work day, etc. It’s a good ongoing habit to get into. Small wins journals—helps track progress, see
This is a daily reminder to do something to move toward dreams or goals—each day the person asks this question, based on what will be happening in that day. So it might be that on one day, it’s making a phone call to someone who might be able to help with the goal. Another day it could be paying attention to what the person enjoys in their work day so that they can be clearer about the kind of work they like to do.
Another good habit is to start helping people learn how to reframe their experiences from the negative to the positive. This can be a powerful way to begin re-shaping thinking patterns.
Help customers see the stories they are telling about their experience—How can you shift from negative language and questions to more positive ways of looking at experiences.
These are examples of some re-framing questions you can use with customers to have them explore what’s going on in a different light.
Asset-Based Coaching: Using Strengths and Coaching Strategies to Assist Job Seekers
Using Strengths and Coaching Strategies to Assist
Consumers in Defining and Reaching Their Vocational Goals
Presented by Michele Martin, The Bamboo Project, Inc.
CCERI/MHANJ—June 24, 2014
• Career Development
• 15+ years in career and
• Work with DiscoverAbilityNJ,
Kessler Foundation, Family
Resource Network, Rutgers
University School of Social
Why Asset-based Planning and Coaching?
Coaching vs. Case Management
The G.R.O.W. Coaching Model
Asset-based Tools & Strategies
Slides and Info At:
Certain roles carry
negative impact on
When we focus on “challenges”
Focus on “what’s wrong with me.” –Shame!
Sense of social isolation—I’m different in a “bad” way
Ability to act
Sense of possibilities and solutions
When we focus on assets:
See ourselves as “whole,” capable people.
Helps us see opportunities and strengths.
We access the positive emotions that inspire action.
We can learn from experiences.
Traditional Case Management
Goals—Find barriers to
employment, “place” job
CM gives instructions for job
seeker to follow, CM works to
control the process.
Goals—Find and build on
strengths, build job seeker
skills and support team for
ongoing career development.
Strategies—Group and 1-on-
1, dialogue, helping job
Case Manager as Hero
“I know the answers. Follow
“I will take care of you.”
“Just do what I say.”
Neglect Doing FOR
Typical “Feel” of Case
Case manager does most of the talking and note-taking—
instructions and directions.
Emphasis on barriers, following CM instructions, completing
organizational paperwork and requirements.
More “telling” than asking/listening.
Organization-centered, rather than person-centered.
Typical “Feel” of a
Structured use of peer, team and one-on-one coaching, based
on purpose and needs.
Coach asks questions, provides feedback, follows lead of job
Job seeker “leads” discussion, takes notes.
Building from strengths as reference point.
Focus on developing career planning/management skills and
habits and on creating a support system of people and
Benefits of Coaching
Job seeker sees him/herself as an expert in his/her own life.
Job seeker “owns” his/her plans and actions
Increases sense of self-efficacy and self-esteem.
Builds skills and independence
Expands support network—less reliance on case manager to
The Coaching Process. . .
Working in partnership with customer
Takes a complete look at customer’s current
situation, including their assumptions/perceptions
about their work, themselves and others.
Helps them set relevant goals based on their own
nature and needs.
Helps them take relevant actions toward achieving
Helps them learn by continuing to reflect on their
actions and providing feedback on what is/isn’t
Believe that every customer is
creative, resourceful and whole
Discover, clarify and align with
what the job seeker wants to
Encourage and support customer
solutions and strategies
Hold customer accountable and
Source: International Coach Federation
Things to Consider. . .
How do you build trust/rapport with your customer?
How do you create an environment of “co-creation” and
How do you structure your conversations and activities to
support a coaching approach?
“Hosting” the Space
Physical arrangement of space
Roles—What is your role and what is the customer’s role in
Responsibilities—What are you responsible for and what is
the customer responsible for?
Spells out roles, responsibilities and how you want to work
together. Can include timeframes, goals, etc.
Typical Coaching Session
Review progress so far
Agree on goal(s) for the session
Work on that goal through questions, exercises, etc.
Reflect on insights
Develop action plan—next steps and time frame.
G.R.O.W Coaching Model
Goal—What do you want?
Reality—What is happening now?
Options—What could you do?
Will—What will you do?
Define goal/outcomes to be achieved
“What would you like to accomplish in our work together?”
“What would you like to accomplish in this session?”
“What’s important to you in this?”
“What would success look like to you?”
Identify visible signs
“How will you know that you’ve achieved that goal? What will be
“How will you know that the problem is solved?”
What is the current reality in relation to goals?
“What is happening now with that?”
“What is the result of that?”
“Who else is involved? How are they involved?”
“How are you feeling about all this?”
Explore potential options, first with questions:
“What have you tried so far?”
“What else could you do here?”
“Have you dealt with something similar before? Could
we borrow from that now?”
Then with your own suggestions:
“Have you tried. . .?”
“Something that has worked for other people is. . . “
“What do you think about trying . . . ?”
“Can we build on something you said earlier and
try. . . ?”
“I’d like to try something with you if you’re OK with it. . .”
Help your customer commit to specific action.
“Now that we’ve discussed your goals and some options, which of
these do you want to try?”
How will this action help you achieve your goal?
“What steps do you need to take on this before our next meeting?”
“What’s one small thing you could do to move this forward?
“What help do you need from other people, including me?”
“Do you anticipate any problems making this happen? How can you
deal with those problems?”
“Do you have any fears or concerns about taking this action? How can
we address those?”
Tips for Implementing GROW
Goals/Reality/Options steps aren’t linear—leave
room to circle around those steps and to further
End with Will step—what can the customer agree
to do? What will you do? What will his/her team do?
Focus on asking questions, effective listening
and helping the customer clarify responses,
better understand his/her goals and motivations.
Watch your impulse to tell the person what to do.
Use silence—leave space for thinking.
Tips for Building Rapport
Listen with intention
Relate your own experiences and stories.
Practice “generous listening”—what is the honorable
intent in what the customer is saying?
Ask for feedback on your own performance—what
can you improve?
Admit failures and mistakes—and share what you’ve
learned from the experience.
Exhibit your trust in the customer and in his/her skills
Tips for Setting Goals
Ask what they want to work on and why they want it—help
them explore not just what, but WHY they want something.
Tie goals to values—what’s important to this person? (Not
what “SHOULD” be important, but what IS important).
Help customer summarize the problem or issue in one simple
Use pictures to represent goals and action steps (similar to
Tips for Giving Feedback
Focus on strengths, what the customer has done well—how
can they build on this?
Ask what customer has learned from the experience and how
it might impact future behavior.
Connect to customer values, goals and priorities—how did an
action impact these?
Work on suspending judgment about what customer “should”
do or how he/she “should” be. Help them with what is.
A challenge is a powerful request that asks the client to extend
beyond self-limiting beliefs.
Includes a specific action and a date/time for completion.
Clients can respond with yes/no or counter-offer
“I challenge you to finish that resume by tomorrow morning”
“I challenge you to find three job openings that interest you by
Position actions as “experiments”—things to “try out” and learn
Start small and build.
Debrief—what happened? How did that feel? What did you
learn from that experience that you can use in the future?
“What can you try next?”
Vision Board Prompts
What is my ideal life?
What is my ideal career?
What is most important to me in this world?
What am I passionate about—what do I love doing?
What inspires me?
What are my greatest strengths? What am I really good at?
What are my roles in life and what is important to me in those
What You Focus On Grows
What’s wrong here?
What are the
What isn’t working?
What weaknesses do I need
Why isn’t this working?
What is working/has worked
in the past?
What opportunities do we
What do I want more of?
What is my positive core that
I can build on?
Questions for a Positive Future
“This is my ideal life. . . “
What do you want MORE of in your life?
If success were absolutely guaranteed, what risks would you
What are you excited about in your life right now?
What would a perfect job look like?
What do people always come to you for? What do you you
think you do really well?
Positive Planning Questions
What is working that you can build on?
How is your life getting better? How can we
bring more of that into your experience?
Think of a similar situation you handled well.
What made it a success and how could we bring
that learning to this situation?
What changes could we make, no matter how
small, that would make your experience more
enjoyable, effective and/or productive?
What’s the Story?
“This is a challenge.”
“This shouldn’t be
“I can’t do this.”
“This is an opportunity.”
“This should be happening
because it’s teaching me
I can do this—I just need to
What can I learn from this?
Who do I know who has
handled this well and what
can I learn from him/her?
How will my life be better after
I’ve worked through this?
What are my greatest
strengths and how can I use
them to help me work through
What am I excited or curious
about in this?
What am I grateful for in all of
Career Mastermind Groups
Purpose: Provide ongoing accountability, ideas, support,
resources, trouble-shooting, learning.
Facilitated and co-created by members.
Staff provide structure, support, ideas
Focus is on:
Goals for the week
Benefits of Group Coaching
Increased probability of achieving goals
Distribution of obstacles
Collective wisdom and multiple perspectives
Diffusion of stress
Support & challenge
Tips on Group Coaching
Make it different—this is NOT “training”—this is doing!
Help job seekers own the discussion:
What problems/issues do they want to work on?
Encourage them to engage with each other, to ask questions, give
Discourage turning to you as the “expert.”
Watch for coachable “aha” moments—call attention to them
with the group.
Help them stay on track--avoid black hole discussions.
Finish with an action—”I will. . . “
Next Steps. . .
Observe yourself—how are you acting as a case manager?
How are you acting as a coach?
What is ONE strategy you can experiment with?
Talk with colleagues—how could you work together to try out
these strategies and learn from them?
What are YOUR assets and strengths? How can you build
on them to develop yourself as a coach?