It is very healing to tell your story – about life’s challenges and the hard work of learning and growth. It also very life affirming to slow down and listen to people’s stories – to honour their experiences by just holding the space through listening and not trying to fix them. I work with my friend Jack Mitchell teaching a Life Skills Coach/Facilitator Training program for SIAST. This program has the New Start Model as it’s foundation and Jack and I as well as other Trainers have adapted and refined this approach over the last 35 years.
During this 34-day program we are privileged to hear many life stories and to engage in this practice. Guiding others in how to coach in this way, and to help people understand group process and build their capacity (both as individuals and as a group ) to slow down and really, really learn and change by listening. Of course there are times to nudge and use skills to move things along, and so often the real challenge is to not do that but to wait, pause during silences, and let struggle and then understanding emerge. I love this work and no matter how many times I think I’ve really got a handle on it and have mastered it, an experience bonks me out of my delusion of mastery and back to more curiosity and paying attention so I can engage as a learner instead and put aside my fantasy of expertise. This process really helps me (and others) to explore below the surface and discover the potential that lies below the water line.
Key Elements of Life Skills Training (written by Jack Mitchell and Kim Bater)
1) Process (How) is emphasized along with content (what)
2) Experiential teaching process – “Learning by doing”
3) Content is tied to life situations
4) Continuous evaluation involving:
a) self b) group c) facilitator
5) Contracts for learning with regular feedback are a basic tool
6) Course content is adjusted by instructor with student input
7) Self-direction/responsibility is built into learning
8) Interpersonal communication and expressing feelings (affective) are foundation skills
9) Positive involvement through building self-esteem and self-confidence are key to the learning process
10) Content/process is eclectic/wholistic and uses what works
Spirit Body Mind
For more information on the Canadian Approach to Life Skills Coaching check out the National web-site. You can follow the Saskatchewan Life Skills Association (SLSA) by signing up on their facebook page and the information on becoming a SLSA member is on this site.