Is There A Coaching Model Or Template In NLP?


Coaching is a popular application for NLP patterns. The intention is to assist a client to solve one or more problems, create and discover outcomes for themselves and to provide processes whereby the client can organise their thoughts and experience to achieve their outcomes. This requires the coach to gather useful information without being drawn into stories or content, to marshall that information using their pattern detection skills and choose questions and process instructions to provide the necessary guidance to the client, all while observing non-verbal communication and listening for language patterns and speech patterns.

Coaching includes some similarities to participating in training exercises, all of which provide a context for developing skills and familiarity with NLP principles as well as processes. These include information gathering, sensory observation and calibration of an exercise partner and the capacity to ask pertinent questions and guide someone through a process. Coaching also requires additional skills and knowledge, related to framing and managing the coaching process and choosing the questions and interventions they offer to fit each client’s responses based on the patterns the client exhibits and or appears to be missing. Coaches also have to manage themselves and their context to ensure that their clients can maintain productive and resourceful states to make their changes.

A coaching session needs a framework in which to operate. While NLP does not espouse a formal model for coaching, it does include processes which lend themselves to that function. The most basic is the Present State compared with Desired State model. In this model, we seek to discover the client’s perception of their present state and their outcome or what they want instead. We can probably assume that if a client has a present state and wants a desired state, they are experiencing something preventing them from making that change by themselves. That something may become the subject of the coaching session. Minimally, it provides the starting point for gathering more information to flesh out the thinking and behaviour patterns the client has been using and the patterns they could use to greater effect.

While there is no direct mention of outcomes or intentions for outcomes, a competent coach will be aware that having a client discover an intention for wanting their outcome widens the scope for creating a satisfying and functional change that fits the client’s values and contexts. However, it is not necessarily common knowledge that change interventions are more effective if made in a larger frame (that contains one or more solutions), than the problem’s own frame (which does not contain solutions). Less experienced coaches will probably appreciate a coaching model that provides more guidance and reminds them to investigate intentions, evidence for outcomes and ecology (evidence that the changes proposed and made will be beneficial to the client and not disrupt anything in their greater system that matters to them). These concepts are instilled in a good NLP training, but may take time to become second nature.

The Outcome, Intention and Consequence process used with well formedness conditions from the Well-Formed Outcome provides a complete framework for running a single coaching session or a planned series of sessions. It can be used to create a coaching needs analysis, a proposal, a coaching contract and a coaching frame or model. The Present State – Desired State model provides enough framing to get started and then relies on the coach having sufficient expertise to ask penetrating process questions and identify and track multiple patterns simultaneously. A fully articulated outcome model provides the less experienced coach with a complete set of prompts to get them going and guide them through the coaching process, provided they have the necessary skills to be coaching in the first place.

Coaching Models: An Outcome Oriented Model

  1. Establish an Outcome
  2. Establish the intention for the outcome
  3. Establish evidence for the outcome
  4. Identify resources to achieve the outcome
  5. Check that the outcome is under the client’s aegis, (by the client and for the client)
  6. Check the consequences (costs and benefits) of getting the outcome are acceptable
  7. Check the consequences of having and maintaining the outcome are acceptable
  8. Check that the client wants that outcome and in a timely manner

1. Outcome

Establish one or more outcomes with the client and if there are several, discover if they are related or examples of something more general that might itself respond to an intervention.

2. Intentions

Identify an intention for an outcome to pursue this session. An intention, by nature provides a larger scope in which to work, thereby providing the client with more choice about what they want and how they express that. Sometimes they will prefer the content of their intention and choose to use that for an outcome.

3. Evidence

Identify sensory based evidence of the client having their outcome. What will they see, hear and feel that lets them know they have achieved their outcome.

4. Resources

Identify resources both to achieve the outcome and to facilitate the client to make the changes they want to achieve the outcome and meet the intention

Identify the present state or limiting factor. Something has been preventing the client from making the change they want or from achieving the outcome they have identified. This is likely to be something the client cannot articulate or even identify without assistance and may become the basis for an intervention.

5. Aegis

Check that the outcomes are by the client, for the client and not for third parties. (If an outcome is for someone else, go to the intention. Pursue higher levels of intention until you find one that is by the client and for the client).

6. Consequences (costs and benefits)

Check for ecology and cost-effectiveness of achieving and having the outcome. NLP change processes work best when the client is congruent about the change they ask for. However they can also work for a limited period if the client is not congruent. It is the coach’s job to ensure that the client considers how their choice fits their values and greater system.

7. Congruency

Review outcome and intention for new present state. Outcomes can evolve in the presence of new information and possibilities. Recycling through the outcome can provide further direction and updating of the client’s choices

8. Time Frame

Check that the client wants that outcome and in a timely manner

Notice that all the above is information gathering. When a coach uses this process to guide their work in a coaching context, they will learn what they need to identify and offer a suitable intervention for that client. Given that the client becomes aware of relevant material via the questioning process itself, the intervention the coach uses will be more in the way of facilitating change that has begun already. Process based information gathering can be all that is needed for some clients to make the changes they wanted.

This model does not specify skill training related matters such as the need for establishing and maintaining rapport with each client nor how and when to make or change the direction of an intervention. It is used here simply as a guide for how to frame one or more coaching sessions. Other business uses have been mentioned in passing, but this model can be used anywhere where the user needs high quality information and verifiable non-verbal delivery of that information.

Found this article useful? Share with your network!

NLP Coaching; What To Do When

How do you coach Someone when you know little about them?

One of the most common questions asked about coaching is, “How do you coach someone when you know little or nothing about their situation or activity?”

Coaching is not advising clients to take specific action, nor taking responsibility to oversee their actions. When coaching is offered by an expert in process, relevant subject knowledge is applied by the client. The coach’s job is to assist the client to discover their own present approach to their situation, to establish what works for the client currently and what the client wants to improve or change. Then the coach can engage the client in learning more effective means to reach their goals. The outcome of coaching is to assist each client to increase the reliability and value of their own thinking and performance to themselves and their chosen associates in and for the future.

Step 1 – Ask Questions

In practical terms, this requires asking a series of process questions to elicit information and unconscious demonstrations of behaviour from the client. This has two functions. It enables the client to learn new ways of identifying and locating their own inner resources without formal intervention and it provides the coach with live evidence of the client’s processes to use to assist the client further. Initially, the coach needs to see and hear three sets of responses:

  1. What does the client say and do, right now, in front of the coach, when they are asked to experience ‘as if’ having what they want instead of the present situation?
  2. What does the client say and do, now, when they experience ‘as if’ being in the situation they want to change?
  3. What does the client say and do, now, when they experience the state and behaviour that stops them gaining their outcome?

The answers and observations to these questions provide the coach and client with news of difference in the client’s existing processes, so the client can begin to differentiate their experiences and the coach can begin to identify possible changes. However, if change is initiated directly from the answers above, it may be too narrow to generalise into related areas and other examples of setbacks. The next questions broaden the scope and identify intentions while guiding the client to begin to discover resources in their own experience:

  1. Is the client’s outcome an example of a larger outcome? If so, does the client achieve other examples of the larger outcome?
  2. What does the client hope to gain through achieving their outcome?
  3. Does this intention reveal other possible outcomes of the intention?
  4. Does the client have any experiences of getting the results they want in the target situation or anywhere else they identify as having similar characteristics?
  5. What is different in the client’s experience between times and places when they get their outcome and those when they do not”? “What are they attending to in their experience?
  6. Is the target situation unique in the client’s experience, or the latest example of a longer standing problem? If longer standing, what do the examples have in common with each other?

By this stage, the coach will be identifying patterns of thinking and behaviour in the client’s experience. If the problem is informed by a limiting belief system, this will have become apparent from the client’s responses. The coach will now be aware of the relevant time frames, logical levels and perceptual positions used by the client in their problem states and outcome states.

Step 2 – Ask More Questions

To discover how much the client has learned through considering all the above questions and what changes they have made spontaneously, the coach may ask questions to clarify, specify and place new possibilities in the future. These include:

  • How, specifically? (Fill in the verb)

For example: “how, specifically, client, do you enlarge that image/amplify that sound/increase that sensation”? Or “how, specifically will you change your state”?

  • What, specifically? (Fill in the noun)

For example: “what image/sound/sensation, specifically”? Or “Which car, specifically”?
“When you have had this outcome for 6 months, what, specifically do expect to be experiencing”?

It is quite likely that by this stage, the client will have made substantial discoveries and connections through attending to these questions, without further intervention. However, if the coach proposes a formal intervention or the client needs a conscious convincer, now the coach has all the information they need to choose elements of NLP processes to create a personal intervention. The questions above can be put to anyone who wants access to more of their own resources. They also assist those students of NLP who still want to learn how to ‘choose’ their interventions with clients.

Want to become an accredited coach? Learn how.

If you found this article useful hit the share button!,