Coaching and neuroplasticity

on BLOG, Coaching, neuroscienze 1 Ott, 2017

Coaching and neuroplasticity

As already discusse in the previous post, neuroscience is providing a detailed understanding of brain functioning and can be used to demonstrate the benefits of coaching.

To date, one of the most important achievements of neuroscience is the demonstration that the way to experiment and perceive is not fixed, but changes, on the basis of the experiences we make and the questions that are being asked; this phenomenon is called neuroplasticity. While in the past it was thought that the brain was immutable, predetermined at birth, it has now been established that, even in adulthood, it's continuously subject to modifications and "updates".

Experiences and environment, therefore, affect brain development and functioning, and coaching in this context has the task of facilitating changes in thoughts, emotions and behaviours, that is in attitudes, awareness, and habits. But how can coaching bring such changes and, at the same time, generate progress in coachee's awareness, self-consciousness, self-motivation, resilience, optimism, self-efficacy? Three key concepts still coming from neuroscience provide clear answers:

  1. 1. TO IMAGINE AND TO DO, FOR THE BRAIN, ARE THE SAME. As we said, brain areas associated with emotions and memories – such as the pre-frontal cortex, the amygdala and the hippocampus – are "plastic" and change, in learning and memory formation, in response to experiences. While perception is the process of acquisition, interpretation and organization of real sensory information (images, smells, tastes, tactile sensations), imagination is related to situations and sensations created with the mind and not (yet) occurred. What has been proven is that imagination activates the same neuronal paths of real experience: hence, the coach's requests to visualize a different life, to build step by step a future change, to imagine already to be "on the other side of the bridge" cause mutations in the brain as real experiences would do, bypassing blockages and fears and, thus, making the goal closer and more achievable.
  2. 2. ACQUISITION OF NEW PERSPECTIVES FREES THE BRAIN. The coach pushes the coachee to develop new perspectives, through powerful questions, provocations and active listening; when this happens, the coachee can get out of emotional blockages, actually bypassing the amydgala.
  3. 3. AT THE BASIS OF A CHANGE, THERE IS ALWAYS A RELATIONSHIP. It is known that the therapeutic relationship has the ability to help clients in changing neuronal systems and improving emotional balance by generating positive physiological responses. Likewise, coaching, in healthy individuals, thanks to the powerful relationship of trust, support, and learning, promotes change in the coachee.

We can conclude by saying that coaching practices, developed and refined over the years by coaches around the world, through intuitions, testing, correction of errors and drawing on various disciplines, have been proven to be effective through scientific means. Personally, it gives me pride and represents a further spur to continue with more and more confidence and enthusiasm on the coaching path!






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