Coaching Agreement Leads to Client Growth

by | Mar 31, 2021

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” 

Alice: “I don’t much care where.” 

The Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

                                                                                                                                Alice in Wonderland

Many new coaches who come to us for mentoring to mastery levels feel like Alice. Though they may care about the client, they say, “How does it matter how much I probe what the client wishes to achieve in the session? Why? What would challenge it? What should evidence it? As a good coach, I should go where the client wishes to go, no matter what, right?”


The client-centric framework of Carl Rogers places Congruence as a polarity to Empathy and Unconditional Positive Regard, so that the coach is authentic in exploring with the client what’s driving the client, and sharing what the coach feels empathetically and non-judgmentally.

The average client who seeks a coach is disempowered. The client does not wish to be where she is, where she feels discontent, unhappy, unfulfilled, frustrated, irritated, sometimes helpless. Often, the client is not clear where to head next. A disempowered state of mind is not the greatest of mind spaces to think clearly and logically. 

Emotions overcome thoughts. Heart overrules the head. Fear and anxiety rule over hope and reason. Any decision on the path to the future taken in such a mind space may not be in the client’s best interests. The coach’s job is to explore the emotional reality state of the client and to partner the client to explore the negative beliefs that rule her emotions and thoughts, to uncover what the client may need for her emotional, physical, and work-life wellbeing. 

Coach’s exploration needs to be based on what Otto Scharmer calls Generative Listening, far beyond active deep and empathetic listening, partnering to understand where the client wishes to be and wishes to go to. This needs to be supported by observing nonverbal cues of sensations and emotions, and inquiring into where they come from. Words can mislead, emotions and sensations far less so. Coach acknowledges what is observed and listened to, shares what the coach senses non-judgmentally, in order to humbly inquire where the client wishes to journey. 

This is the process of what Coacharya terms as LASI:

  • Listening by Observing
  • Acknowledging in Appreciation
  • Sharing what is Sensed
  • Inquiring to explore Sensations, Emotions, and Thoughts (SET).

The first step in this process is to explore current reality and help the client agree on the intent, goal, or outcome to journey to. Coaching competencies are all in agreement that this process needs to cover – at the very least:

  • What does the client intend to achieve in the coaching session?
  • Why is that it’s meaningful to the client’s current reality? 
  • What is the value that the client aspires to in this intent?
  • What may be the limiting beliefs that hold the client back from the desired intent?
  • What is it that the client wishes to see at the end of the coaching session to evidence that she is on the right path to the desired intent, in her daily life that she would soon step into?

In coaching terms, this is an Agreement or Contract that starts the journey. Without clarity and definition in this Contract, no effective coaching can take place.  

The next step is to help the client understand the gap between reality and goal in terms of the values that represent the goal and the belief systems that may govern reality. 

Any dissonance between value and belief in the unconscious mind needs to be explored using LASI/SET to bring about Awareness. This conscious awareness of unconscious limiting beliefs as Learning can then lead to designing Action for Growth, (Coacharya 3 A framework leading from Reality to Goal through Awareness by Learning, Action to Growth to Anchoring to Sustain) which then need to be Anchored to sustain new behavior. 

The end of the journey in an individual coaching session, then, aligns to Contract/Agreement.

  • Learning about oneself, the reality of the situation, and what would help in moving forward to desired intent
  • Designing Action in terms of what to plan, how, and why in terms of possible further challenges and support needed.
  • Designing Anchoring through what the client needs to be accountable for and what longer-term actions need to be taken

Coaching in mastery is simple when this process is understood and is practiced using the Rogerian Client-Centric framework. The purpose of coaching is to empower the client to achieve what the client intends while ensuring that the client self-explores her way through her limiting belief systems to the enabling values she seeks. 

Learn to coach to mastery the Coacharya way. 

Ram Ramanathan
Ram Ramanathan


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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