Barbro Teir
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Who benefits from this?

Let me introduce you to Mick Cooper. I met him in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago, when he held a one-day-workshop for people using existential approaches in therapy, coaching and healthcare.

Cooper is a professor of counselling psychology at the University of Roehampton, UK. He is called the coming man in the second generation of existentialism. One reason for this is that he has focused on customer satisfication, which is a little bit provocative in this field. Cooper is passionate about research on how different therapies help people to live better lives; why they work well, or not so well. His findings can be applied on existential coaching, as well.

Research shows that only 15 percentage of the effectiveness of the process is explained

by which method – different therapies and different forms of coaching – is used in councelling.

Hope – the client’s belief that counselling will help him or her – explains another 15 percentage.

What really matters is

1. the relationship between the client and the therapist/coach, explaining 30 percentage. Building an alliance based on empathy and open dialogue (where the client is asked to give feedback, for example) are demonstrably effective elements, because – surprise, surprise – clients who get the form of counselling they prefer, show better results.

2. client factors, explaining 40 percentage of the success in counselling. Clients who participate actively in the counselling, are motivated but also have realistic expectations about the process gain the most of it.

"Research shows that only 15 percentage of the effectiveness of the process is explained by which method is used in councelling."

When Cooper puts customer satisfication on the existential map, he simultaneously deprives the therapist/coach of the role of a healer. At best, we are catalysts. Moreover, Cooper’s research shows that the training, status, experience as therapist/coach or amount of supervision is less important than the ability to serve the client on his or her terms.

This is why it’s called the second generation. It’s really a shift in paradigm from the view that the therapist/coach alone knows what method to use, and sticks to one school as the right one for everybody. Cooper’s aim is an attempt to transcend the thought of different schools in all its forms and re-orientate therapy/coaching around the client’s wishes and benefits. We, who work with clients, should maintain a critical, self-reflective stance towards our own theoretical and personal assumptions.

Because lots of different things can be helpful to clients, Cooper states.

Existential coaching doesn’t cling to one standardized model for everybody, but offers many ways of searching answers, depending on the client’s situation and needs.

I like this approach.

If you do, too, existential coaching is for you.