As a coach, one of my practices is to review the coaching relationship with the client and ask for feedback at the end to see if there’s anything I can improve on as a coach and my coaching process. During my final session with one client, “Barbara”, she mentioned that her coaching experience with me was unique because of my focus on coaching her entire being, which inspired her to go deeper. Although she’s worked with other coaches who asked powerful questions, her sessions with them did not give her the same clarity and awareness as ours.
While reflecting on her feedback on my coaching process, I realized that as a certified diversitycoach, I was comfortable exploring her narrative identity with her, including the common themes I noticed in our sessions.
Narrative identity is a psychological concept that proposes that the stories we tell about our life impact our sense of self.
When “Barbara” came in for our first coaching session, she shared that her goal was to pursue a new career that would allow her to live a fulfilling life. She wanted to do something for herself without others telling her what to do. In our succeeding sessions, I noticed that “Barbara’s” narrative identity revolved around her duties as a mother and putting others first before her own needs. As a coach, I used the theory of narrative identity to assist “Barbara” in developing a better understanding of herself and creating more coherent and meaningful narratives about her life. By evaluating her experiences, events, and people that have shaped her personal stories, she found patterns and themes that provide insight into her values, aspirations, and motivations.
We also worked on identifying the different hats she wore and their narrative identities. “Barbara” gained some insight into that part of herself that wants to have fun but is always pushed aside and never gets to shine. She realized that one side of her doesn’t have to overshadow the other, and it is a matter of paying attention to which side she needs to access to move forward. As a result of our coaching sessions, Barbara shared that she feels happier, at peace, and confident in what she’s doing and more driven to get things done after working with me.
Narrative identification work is a valuable technique for coaches who want to take their coaching sessions to a different level and assist clients in developing a better understanding of themselves and their unique stories.
By examining the complicated and changing nature of identity, coaches can empower their clients to rewrite their stories in ways that are more aligned with their values and aspirations.
References: (1) McAdams, D. P., & McLean, K. C. (2013). Narrative Identity. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(3), 233–238. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721413475622 Original Article with other references posted on Medium.com https://gaietycoach.medium.com/narrative-identity-how-coaches-can-help-clients-shape-their- stories-7022c780beb2?source=friends_link&sk=a5af2592f382ea6b2d0ef9cd86fb1409
Katie Adriano is a dedicated professional coach and facilitator, passionate about promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) on a personal level. With over 19 years of professional experience across various industries, Katie offers a unique approach to her coaching, workshops, training, and other engagements.
She uses a strengths-based and client-centered approach to help her clients from all walks of life overcome their challenges, tap into their strengths, and achieve their goals while also integrating coaching with a diversity lens. Her commitment to positively impacting the lives of those she serves fuels her passion for her work. She believes that DEIB is not just a buzzword or a check-the-box exercise but a mindset and a way of life that can transform individuals and organizations for the better.
She works with diverse clients from various backgrounds and sectors across several continents. Katie is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and one of the ICF DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) Department’s Global Facilitators.