Neuroscience sounds like a complicated topic. I was never very good with science at school and when I heard about science stuff I would often break out in a cold sweat. However, over the past year i’ve been immersing myself into the world of science. As a coach, i have found an understanding of the the brain and body incredibly helpful in supporting the transformation of my clients.
Last week i attended a course entitled “Neuroscience for coaches” led by Amy Brann who wrote a book with the same title. I signed up for the course because i wanted a way to learn more about how neuroscience could supercharge my coaching. I attempted to read a few books on the topic but often found them difficult to read so wanted an experiential course to help immerse me into the topic.
Amy’s teaching style was great and really helped me quickly grasp some of the concepts of how Neuroscience can really help coaches.
The 3 ways i learned that neuroscience could supercharge my coaching were brain basics, the neuroscience of change and neuroscience of emotions:
1 – Brain basics
As a coach i think its important to understand the basic structure of the brain. This helps you understand more about what could be happening inside the brain of your client. An appreciation for how the different parts of the brain interact, how neural pathways are formed and brain chemistry. A very simple technique we learnt was the Peter Siegel hand model which is a simple way to explain the structure of the brain. I learned about the 4 common brain networks; Executive, Salience, Default and Limbic and also about the chemistry of the brain; oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline, cortisol and serotonin.
2 – Neuroscience of change
Neuroplasticity is defined as:
“..the change in neural pathways and synapses that occurs due to certain factors, like behavior, environment, or neural processes. During such changes, the brain engages in synaptic pruning, deleting the neural connections that are no longer necessary or useful, and strengthening the necessary ones.” [ref]
As the definition eludes an understanding of neruoplasticity is important for coaches. In brain speak, if we are to create lasting change we need to help people create and change their neural pathways. Throughout the course we explored further the science behind change. Studies show that neural pathways are formed through emotional experiences and repeated exposure. If we are to help our clients we need to engage their emotional brain, amygdala, and form habits around the behaviours they want to adopt.
3 – Neuroscience of emotions
A third topic we explored was the brain and emotions. The amygdala is the part of the brain most associated with emotions. We explored how versatile and different everyones brains are. Emotions are often processed differently from person to person. Often we use framing for emotions either through visual queues such as facial movements or language. These can however often mislead the brain and we can interpret the emotion incorrectly. Emotions are hard to interpret and often requires a high degree of self-awareness to be fully in tune with their emotions. Coaches often explore feelings with their clients and often ask questions such as “How do you feel about that?” Understanding the neuroscience of feelings and emotions it was clear what a big question this was. If we are to truly answer this question it requires a deep awareness.
Neuroscience is a vast emerging area. The 2 days with Amy helped me explore this fascinating topic which has really got me interested. I have already bought 2 books to read about the topic further.