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Life Coaching : Why is it so important in our time and place?

Central theme to emerge in coaching over the last three decades

A few months ago, I was invited by the IWFSA to do a talk to our leadership on central themes that have emerged from our coaching experiences over the last 3 decades.  This is valuable to bear in mind, as the IE Group has coached more than 150 000 people over the last few years, many of them leaders in our country.

South Africa has an extremely high level of Adverse Childhood Experience candidates (ACE)

In almost 30 years of coaching – using some of the world’s most scientific assessment tools, we have noted that the number one area of dysfunctionality, that includes private and professional clients, is the lack of self-regard which means to respect oneself while understanding and accepting one’s strengths and weaknesses.  It associated with inner strength and self-confidence.

The deeper we explore the needs of our clients, the more we have come to realise that adverse childhood experiences are the main cause of this dysfunctionality.

Empirical research conducted by Kaizer Permanente – A study on youth trauma, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES, was a landmark publication published in 1998 by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente. The study specified 10 categories of stressful or traumatic childhood events, including abuse, parental incarceration, and divorce or parental separation. Its research showed that sustained stress caused biochemical changes in the brain and body and drastically increased the risk of developing mental illness and health problems.

More recently in Prof Bessel van der Kolk’s book “The Body Keeps the Score Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma” he states “Majority of Americans experience a violent crime at some time during their lives and twelve million women have been victims of rape. For many people, the war begins at home. Each year about three million children in the US are reported as victims of child abuse and neglect. It is difficult for growing children to recover when the source of terror and pain is not enemy combatants but their own caretakers”.

So where are we as South Africans? I fear our statistics will be far worse because of the horrors of apartheid. Our work as coaches has certainly demonstrated that in the last 30 years.  When ACE candidates grow up and experience change or volatility such as a change in relationship, career stress, negative beliefs begin to manifest and disaffect all relationships and potential career success.

I do not want to sow despair or fear. Indeed, my aim is the opposite. I want to tell you that there is a solution and a pathway through this.   Over the last 30 years, my team of specialists and I have developed a system to remediate negative beliefs and the deleterious effect on ones’ body and life.  I was happy to share the pathways for renewal with the IWFSA members.


Research conducted by UNESCO’s Volkan refers to :

Large Group Trauma and I believe apartheid is such a large group trauma that leads to societal mourning and transgenerational transmission.  Informed interventions can support collective healing and peaceful co-existence.

Collective healing can only occur when the backbone isn’t broken – our backbone was not broken and the testimony of this was June 16th when school children said “This is enough!”  our collective healing began with Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and the unbanning of the ANC and was further enhanced by our Truth and Reconciliation Commission under the leadership of Desmond Tutu.  This resulted in the practise of apology and forgiveness which afterwards became the standard in diplomatic practise for healing large group conflicts.

But,  undigested trauma is transmitted from one generation to another, ESPECIALLY where the previous generation did NOT HAVE ANY SUPPORT to deal with it, and so it was passed on.  Our trauma included losses related to economic resources, damage of pride, not being able to assert oneself, powerlessness and this took the form of physical and emotional abuse, parental incarceration, divorce or parental separation exacerbated by addictions to numb overwhelming emotions.

whether we are aware or not, every significant loss is mourned.  where there is no assistance, it is deposited on children and becomes known as transgenerational transmission.

a child who is given this deposit is given a gene that influences her individual and group identity and if not ameliorated, hands this down to the next generation etc.

over many generatons when a parent or grandparent has no actual memory of group trauma it can become a chosen trauma.

from the beginning of time humans have humiliated, oppressed and killed the other.  human nature has not changed!  this is why an understanding of the influence of the psychology of large groups has become a necessity.  that is why the work that we do as coaches and mentors is so important!!!

each time we help someone in pain you create a light and it’s the light that saves us from the darkness!

So how do we deal with this?  it can be as simple as 3 easy steps or as complicated as psycho-therapy depending on the severity of the trauma.

let’s start with the easy path first.  normally in an assessment discussion, through careful questioning one is able to discern whether there are any beliefs that are keeping this person stuck.  the process in dealing with this consists of 3 steps:

  • Self-awareness through mindfulness based stressed reduction where the individual excavates their own awareness and renewal strategies that may consist of answering deep questions such as “what is my personal vision, what is my future vision, where are my values etc., this opens the mindfulness pathway which is a conscious awareness of self – heart, mind body spirit.  this leads to hope and eventually self-compassion.
  • The second step is to provide them with a neuroscience technique to become aware of their negative self-talk and to reframe this into healthy considerations to grow positive neurons in the brain. in as little time as 28 days it is possible to grown a whole positive neural cluster that can significantly improve one’s life.
  • The third stage in this simple process is to do mind detox method. this is an excavation of the root cause reason of the negative belief in order to create a more positive cognition that is then implanted into the sub conscious – this is done through deep relaxation and most clients report that this is the fulcrum at which the old belief is shifted and he new knowingness becomes the positive cognition moving forward.

However, should the rating be low in this exercise, we know that the belief has not shifted and that exploring deeply, perhaps with a clinical psychologist is necessary to integrate the frozen neuron.  One of the most successful therapies to deal with trauma and aggravated ACE candidates is EMDR – relatively new psycho-therapy that has been around for almost 40 years.  To read further explores?  Prof Bessel van der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps the Score – he is Prof of Psychiatry at Boston Medical School.

Fast forward to January 2024.  We have taken the step to create an E’learning programme : a Life Coaching Practitioner’s Course to enable those who want to do the self-exploration work and equip them to be able to help others in this regard.  This is available on our website :  Contact us on (011)7811444 or [email protected]

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