I was interviewed about my Visual Coaching niche for an American T.V. show earlier in the year … called Meet the Experts (see video to right)
While Arielle Ford and I didn’t have time to go into it, many people ask me how I came to have such an unusual profession … so this article outlines the evolution of Visual Coaching and the path I took to create this my unique work and how I now teach others to do it too.
For many years I worked in both the United States and Canada as a ‘visual recorder’ and a ‘visual facilitator’, in corporate, governmental and not-for-profit settings. In a nutshell, both these roles use visuals to help groups understand each other and make collaborative decisions.
Always interested in personal growth, in 2000 I enrolled in coach training via The Coaches Training Institute and also became an Alchemical Hypnotherapist. While I enjoyed my facilitation work with companies, it required me to travel extensively (leaving little time for anything else) and to sometimes work with organizational mandates I wasn’t fully aligned with. So I was on the lookout for an entrepreneurial venture that I could be morally congruent with and hopefully not travel as much (where people could come to me or we could work online).
In coaching and hypnotherapy school I discovered that I was very popular with the other students … they wanted to work with me because of the cool visual notes I took of their sessions instead of just the verbal way that the other coaches worked (as a professional doodler I just couldn’t help but create visual summaries of the insights, ahhas and results that my clients came to).
Spotting a market opportunity, I tried for a while to convince other visual colleagues that they should develop “Visual Coaching” … as I was too busy to explore it more seriously. However that all changed on the morning of September 11th in 2001 as I awoke in my San Francisco home to the trauma of that infamous day. I was supposed to be in New York that week but a series of synchronicities had kept me away.
Watching lives being forever changed … I made a vow that day to reorganize my life around the things that really mattered to me. To pursue what I was most attracted to, even if it seemed unusual or strange … as life can be short.
Within a year I had moved back to my beautiful hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada … and set about creating a new life and livelihood.
I continued to do visual recording and visual facilitation work and concurrently developed Visual Coaching — developing my signature process and suite of 17 visual tools: The SHIFT-IT Visual Coaching Process®.
There are so many ways that one can work visually with individuals, biz partners and couples — using different processes and formats. In the early days I mostly did strategic planning hybrids … helping people literally SEE where they had been (Life Maps), where they wanted to go (Personal Visions) and how to organize their steps to get there (Action Plans). Later my specialty honed into the area of resistance — what I call “Trouble at the Border”. Pinpointing and flipping the inner blocks, self-sabotage and wonky energy that prevents people from having what they desire.
Today Visual Coaching is growing nicely, aided by the growing ranks of Certified Visual Coaches. They work in a diversity of environments and specialty areas including: executive coaching, small biz & solopreneurs development, military, grief & bereavement, first nations, autism, eating disorders, relationships, social justice & youth, human trafficking, mind/body and weight loss, abundance, health and wellness, etc.
Each cohort brings a new group of fascinating professionals who are doing great work in the world … and doing it even better by learning how to effectively use visuals to help their clients SHIFT.
While it hasn’t always been easy, I’m proud that I pursued my dream and have successfully SHIFTed my own work. And that I get to help others do the same. Its exciting to see the ripple effect as the work expands internationally.
How You Can Learn More:
If you’d like to learn more about Visual Coaching and how to add its client-pleasing effects to your own practice, please check out Visual Coach Certification … for information on the next cohort. Or, if you are client looking to be coached in the visual way … check out my coaching options and the Directory of Visual Coaches for a qualified coach near you.
©2012 Christina Merkley
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Christina Merkley, “The SHIFT-IT Coach” is a Visioning and Strategic Planning Expert specializing in Visual Thinking and Inner Alignment techniques. Based in charming Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, she works deeply with individuals, partners and conscious businesses to define and manifest what they truly want. And, trains other Process Professionals in her innovative ways of working. For more information visit: www.shift-it-coach.com and www.visualcoaches.com