Relational Contemplative Coaching

Relational Contemplative Coaching is a collaborative process that supports the creation of the connection, trust, caring and acceptance we all long for in our close relationships. This coaching is similar to Individual Contemplative Coaching in that the coach invites you into an experiential inner exploration of your essential nature, or Self, and the parts of you that appear to obscure the Self. (See Individual Contemplative Coaching.) However, in Relational Contemplative Coaching, you and your loved one(s) engage in this inquiry together. Also, the main focus of the exploration of each person’s parts is on the vulnerable parts whose pain get triggered in the relationship, and on parts that yearn for the connectedness inherent in your true nature. Relational Contemplative Coaching creates inner and relational harmony by helping you to extend the understanding, appreciation and compassion of the Self to both your loved one and yourself.

Relational Contemplative Coaching is available for couples, families and groups of couples. Individual Contemplative Coaching is available for individual adults, children and groups of individuals. Coaching is conducted in person, by phone, and face-to-face over the Internet via Skype.

From Unconscious to
Wakeful Relational Cycles

The challenges presented by committed relationships and parenting can be catalysts for wakeful living. Intimate partners, parents, children, siblings and close friends have the power to trigger the most vulnerable parts of us. These parts are typically those that carry burdens of feeling alone, lonely, abandoned, afraid, rejected, inadequate, insignificant or ashamed. People in close relationships often get stuck in unconscious cycles of interaction in which vulnerable parts get triggered, the triggered person either reacts angrily with criticism and demands or defensively by withdrawing and stonewalling. This reaction, in turn, triggers a vulnerable part of the other person, who reacts, and the cycle continues, creating more and more distance and isolation. The caring and acceptance that both people long for can seem an unattainable dream.

To unravel this destructive cycle, Relational Contemplative Coaching uses the pioneering experiential approach developed by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. called Internal Family Systems (IFS). IFS is highly respectful, non-pathologizing, life affirming and revolutionary in its differentiation between our Self, or true nature, and our parts, or who we think we are. (See Individual Contemplative Coaching and Helpful Resources: Contemplative Therapies for more information about IFS.) IFS provides essential clarity to relational healing work by focusing on the possibility and fulfillment of Self-to-Self communion. This communion is possible when you extend compassion and understanding to your vulnerable parts, and speak for, rather than from these parts while staying grounded in the peace that is always here. This fundamental shift allows you to communicate in a way that does not trigger your loved ones. Instead, loved ones are drawn to respond with compassion and understanding. This compassion transforms unconscious cycles into cycles that reflect the inherent connectedness of our true nature—the wakeful cycles of wakeful relationships.

From Insecure to Secure Bonds

Relational Contemplative Coaching is also informed by the innovative work of Susan Johnson, Ph.D., who developed a respectful, non-pathologizing experiential approach for couples and families called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT, see Helpful Resources: Contemplative Therapies). EFT is based on Attachment Theory, perhaps the single most insightful and powerful theory of close relationships. In essence, the theory states that all of us—young and old—have a basic human need for at least one “attachment relationship.” This relationship ideally provides: a secure base of support and acceptance from which we are free to explore, learn, accomplish and create; and a safe haven where we can receive solace and comfort after experiencing the world’s hard knocks.

Relational Contemplative Coaching utilizes the insights of EFT to focus the process on the parts of each person that have the most power to transform unconscious relational cycles. These include the universally human parts that long for a secure base of acceptance and safe haven of caring—parts that long for the Self, as reflected in the other. EFT also focuses on the vulnerable parts of loved ones that are easily triggered in current attachment relationships because they have been wounded in past attachment relationships. This wounding usually occurred because a caregiver was not able or available to provide the secure base or safe haven needed at the time. These vulnerable parts’ pain provides the fuel that drives destructive, unconscious relational cycles—even decades after the original wounding. Thus, the healing of these key parts is an essential element for the relaxation of these cycles.

The long-term effectiveness of IFS in alleviating suffering and EFT in fostering secure bonds has been validated in well-controlled empirical studies. See Helpful Resources: Contemplative Therapies.

Your Relationship’s True Destiny:
A Self-to-Self Feast

With the clear recognition of our essential nature, the profoundly healing power of IFS, and the insightful attachment focus of EFT, Relational Contemplative Coaching creates profound and lasting relational transformation marked by Self-awareness, life-affirming cycles, and secure bonds. Such relationships fulfill their rightful destiny of offering a Self-to-Self wellspring of support for Wakeful Living—the moment-to-moment embodying of the peace and joy of your true nature.