Resilience Lens: Coaching Challenges

By Jenny Campbell|February 28, 2018|Resilience Coaching|

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The Resilience Lens is where the Resilience Engine offers in-depth analysis of different coaching challenges, using our ten years of resilience research.

Here’s our first example.

Your Client Is Not Coping. What do you do?

You are running a workshop aimed to help enable change, and have some exercises that the participants will try out in small groups. Everyone stands up, gets into their groups, and go off confidently. But one person is still sitting. You sense something is wrong. You approach them kindly and ask how you can help. The participant starts to cry, and in a stuttering way, peppered by many tears, explains that they feel just overwhelmed. Other stuff spills out.

You only have ten minutes left before the other participants are due back. What do you do?

The participant is crying, and in a stuttering way, has explained that they feel just overwhelmed, that although this stuff is important to them and their teams (they are a senior leader in the organisation), they don’t think they can face talking about it all right now. They have shared all sorts of fragments of their story right now, both personal and work issues. They are overwhelmed, embarrassed, and stuck in what to do.

How can you help this participant be resourceful enough to make a good decision for themselves and how to make the right choice – whether to stay at the workshop or return to work, and if they stay, how they might be able to continue on with their day?

And with this in mind, how are you also able to continue working with the other participants in an appropriate manner?


The Resilience Lens

Let’s look at both of these clients through the lens of the Resilience Engine research.1

This is a resourceful person with a senior role; you don’t get to these roles without being resourceful in a pretty significant way.

The client is rendered unresourceful, because of their stress reactions: fight or flight, which we all know about, or freeze or appease. In this case it’s freeze. Gaining an understanding of these latter two stress reactions gives a resilience coach more in their toolkit to be able to help a client understand what the underlying problem might be.

The client demonstrates stuckness, and one that has been going on for a while. The client is stuck in many ways – even being physically stuck in their seat. This plus the fragments of their story, quickly highlights that they have been in Fragmentation2 for some time – a critical state of resilience depletion that demonstrates a strong risk of breakdown in the near future. The only way that person can become more resilient, and more healthy as a result, is to take time to recover their energy. The onus as a resilience coach, is to offer that set of resilience insights clearly and kindly. This means no rescue, no reassurance, no trying-to-get-them-to-feel-ok-enough-to-rejoin-the-others. As anyone who is Gestalt trained will will know, recognising the ‘is-ness’ of any situation allows for the space to shift it.

What really happened? Within ten minutes, the participant not only recognised where they were but they were grateful for the clarity of that understanding, and were able to re-join the group for the remainder of the day. In the few days thereafter, they also requested a leave of absence for a time to recover. They became healthy and happy again in that period, and returned into the organisation with a different set of priorities and work-life balance habits. No coaching was offered in that time – it was just that initial 10 minutes, which turned out to be critical for that participant’s wellbeing.


What’s the bottom line? Coaches need to learn more about how to judge the capacity for change of their clients. This is the heart of resilience coaching. To learn more about how you can become a Resilience Engine accredited coach, click here.

Author: Jenny Campbell, CEO of The Resilience Engine





  1. Resilience Engine accredited coaches will use The Resilience Dynamic® and Resilience Engine® models, based on ten years of research, within their practice. These help the coach ‘co-diagnose’ the client’s resilience level, understand the implications of that level very specifically, to know the key enablers for the client for that level that can be acted on at that time. Whilst resilience is dynamic, pacing the coaching specifically according to the capacity of the client brings about immediate resilience increase. And since resilience enables increased wellbeing and performance, this is only a good thing.
  2. Fragmentation is a state named and explained in the Resilience Dynamic® model, a map of what resilience is, and how it shifts.
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