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Solution Focused Coaching


Rabbi Joshua Ritchie MD   •   November 23, 2014

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Guest 4: Do you think that this would primarily complement another career or a later stage in life or just in younger people who jump right into it?

Ritchie: We’ve gone, obviously, the whole spectrum. As I was saying, we’ve had young people, really quite young, we had one person who was working with a lot of disturbed teenagers who was helping hundreds of disturbed teenagers in a very powerful way, took our training and then he said, he wanted his daughter, who was a very capable, fine young lady, who was a young teenager, really quite young, 17, 18. He kept insisting she was capable of taking the course, and she did, and she successfully, well it took her a little bit longer because she got busy with school, but after we did let her extend the time, and she finished the training. So we’ve had people as young as 17 or 18, lots of people in their 20s, and we’ve had people in their 50s, 60s who are already, as I said, skilled educators, very skilled kiruv professionals, very skilled business people, very skilled administrators…

Guest 4: Do they make a career out of it? Do people make it a stand-alone career?

Ritchie: Well they’re not going to do it in a week or two…one year of training will get them a long way, and then they can go work in different environments, yeah they can do education work, kiruv work, they can…it depends on what they want to do, but to hang out a shingle when you’re 18 or 19 isn’t going to quite work, but there’s lots of things they can do, and lots of people they can counsel and guide and work with, as a counselor, a madrich, there’s lots of ways young people have been doing kiruv and outreach…


Guest 4: May I ask what is the bottom line?

Ritchie: Sure, they get jobs. They get jobs that they possibly wouldn’t have gotten without the training here as a trained certified coach. We’ve had people who’ve become directors of big programs who wouldn’t have become the director if they didn’t have this additional background. They were good educators or good this or that, but with the skills that they acquired here, they became heads of programs or directors or principals, they became the guidance counselor for a school and so on, so different people use it in different ways.

Some complement and advance their careers, some establish and practice with it, the ones that establish a stand-alone had, usually, some other things going for them, that they already had some other bit of expertise or knowledge or respectability or credibility in the community. One of our full time practitioners here had a little bit of business experience and had a degree, I think, in business management or something. She now does full time business coaching here in Israel which is no small feat, so there are all sorts of success stories but each one is relatively unique. Each one is built on their own pathway, their skills, their interests, and their market, their community – who they want to serve and who knows them, who they can serve. We’ve had some amazing successes.

One young man was a teacher in Mexico City, a young teacher, and even before he finished the year, they were inviting him to a mental health clinic that was being run there by social workers and therapists, and they threw him their toughest teenager and within a month, two months, he had this teenager out of depression and they were all duly impressed. He’s obviously going on to have quite a career both in the mental health clinic and continue to be an educator, a teacher. We’ve had teachers, here that transition from full time teachers to full time school counselors, that’s what they prefer doing. They chose to grow and spend most of their time counseling, coaching rather than just teaching, but each one has to find their niche, their calling, and it’s not that we’re training people for one specific thing, we’re giving them tools and skills based on what they want to make of it, and that’s basically what coaching’s about and we’re coaching each one of our students to bring out their talents and their skills, giving them tools, and letting them, then, apply it, in a way that’s going to be most rewarding for them. Does that help you? Did you have more that you wanted to ask?

Guest 4: Yeah definitely. That's wonderful, that’s wonderful. Thank you.

Sandy: Hi, I wanted to ask a question.

Ritchie: Yes, go ahead, please.

Sandy: I’m Sandy from Brooklyn.

Ritchie: Yes, thank you, Sandy.

Sandy: I enrolled in your program and I’m looking forward and I’m very excited. I was listening to your lecture and I’m enjoying every moment. I wanted to ask regarding the question that you mentioned a few minutes ago, this is what led me, actually, to do what I’m going to do now. I had a lot of people just calling me, between relatives, friends and so on, with all kinds of problems and just talking. What do I do with someone who really, really has major problems and it’s not the kind of thing that I can just help her work up her abilities because these are kind of real problems that she has, like she lost her mom, and she’s divorced with kids, that kind of real major problems, and all I’m trying to do is show her that I’m really with her problems. How can I strengthen her so that she can just go on further in her life and be able to go through all of these things and be able to just lead her life?

Ritchie: I can’t answer that now in one easy lesson, but cognitive behavioral approach and solution-focused which are two forms of cognitive behavioral very much addresses that, and there are some reading materials in the training manual, and there is a book by David Burns, there are several books by David Burns, who is a student of Beck. You’ll be getting a textbook about it, you’ll be seeing the training manual, there are other books, Ten Days to Self-Esteem,  “Defeat Depression” is the first subtitle. There are methodologies that you can begin working with these clients that will help bring them out of their depression. These will work in about 75% of cases. That doesn’t mean you can bring back a deceased person, that doesn’t mean you can solve all of their physical problems, but you can help them cope with their overwhelming sadness because you can help them deal with it. Reality therapy can help them deal with it, that’s another form of cognitive behavioral approach, there are ways you can help them overcome their depression and that will be taught over the course of the year.

There are a certain percentage of people, what you are calling situational depression, there’s a good reason she’s depressed and part of it is grieving. Grieving can take a few years to overcome. People can be sad for a long time if they lose a loved one no matter what you do, they can be sad for quite awhile. If you lose a beloved spouse, the mourning period, the grieving period can take anywhere from a year to five years. Now, coaching and CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, can help them function better and speed up the process a bit, quite a bit, but people who have a reason to be sad, obviously can be sad for a while, and that’s a normal, human response, and we, in part, have to normalize that and still love and respect them and help them love and respect themselves and help them get back to themselves. There are ways we can help them, and that is something that you will learn during the course, but what you’re doing so far, is being a good friend, and being supportive and being empathetic, I’m sure the reason she continues to talk to you is because it’s very helpful to her and that’s very important and that’s the foundation. On top of that, there are some other things that you will learn to do that will be helpful, but I can’t give it to you in a little two or three or five minute description, but yes, you will be able to help her with some of these specifics.

Sandy: Thank you very much. You are very helpful.

Ritchie: Thank you. Ok, I’m still open to other comments or questions.

Rachel: Hi, can I ask a question? Hi, I’m Rachel from Brooklyn. I’m wondering, are there certain situations where you’d say coaching is not really relevant and it’s more the skills of therapy and coaching is for most situations, or do you think that pretty much coaching with the skills that you use throughout the year, you can solve all or most problems?

Ritchie: Rachel, there are a lot of kind of funny noises on your line, so I didn’t hear you super clearly, but you, I think, were asking, if I heard you correctly, can coaching help everybody? Everybody can benefit from coaching, will coaching help everybody’s problems? Not necessarily and not everyone will want to take advantage of coaching. So, first of all, to be helped with coaching, someone has to be wanting to be coached. They have to collaborate, they have to cooperate. Sometimes people do come mandated, and that’s the talk I’m going to be doing next class, in about another hour and a half, I’m going to be doing a lecture on another class on working with a mandated client, so sometimes there are clients that are not voluntary. Sometimes they have to become a voluntary client, or you can’t help them too much when they don’t want to be helped, but a good coach will be able to, hopefully, help them decide that they do want to be helped.

If somebody wants to be coached and wants to be helped, you can help most anybody, but sometimes people need more skillful help, if you’re not a very experienced coach, they may need someone who’s more experienced. If they happen to be really mentally ill and need medication, they might need to also get medication, and with medication, they might be more amenable with the help they need with coaching. Some people need to learn various things, so they might need certain education or training or mentoring to get some of the skills that they need. So coaching doesn’t absolutely cure everything, but coaching can help almost anybody with anything if they want to be helped with it.

Coaching, historically, started with high performing athletes and outstanding performing executives so that people who are very capable wanted to be even more capable and more successful and better performers, and coaches helped them be even more successful. So don’t get the impression that coaching is only helping people who are lacking or are failures or have real problems or whatever, yes coaching will help people who have problems but it will also help people who are very capable and want to accomplish even more, but even the most capable of people go through at times, what’s called, a crisis. They get overwhelmed, they face some trauma or some massive upheaval or some disruption in their life, and for the moment, it overwhelms then, and a lot of people come for coaching at that moment of overwhelm. They might have been a very successful, capable person, but now, they’re temporarily thrown for a loss, and with coaching, you help them regain their self-confidence and their bearings and help them refocus and restore their optimism and their confidence and overcome their anxiety and their overwhelm and their confusion and their depression, and then they get into problem solving. We’ll talk about that, it’s called crisis coaching or crisis counseling.

That first man that I described that was coming up the stairs to the Yeshiva, who then I was describing was the proud father-in-law, I presume had been through a crisis. He somehow suffered a major setback and was feeling very defeated but was counseled, coached, guided through that process to overcome it. Didn’t take medication, did just take a bit of coaching, and he was not the only one, and he didn’t necessarily have to have the work there. I saw many people come in depressed and leave un-depressed or leave un-depressed by the second or third visit. I’ve had innumerable clients that I’ve quickly brought out of depression just by what we’ll be learning in the course – how to work with people. Again, what was your question? I’m sorry, I kind of got lost. You asked what? You were talking about mood? Mood is certainly something you can coach someone with, that’s one of the things you mentioned… Did you want to state anything again? Did I understand you correctly and answer your question?

Rachel: Hello, can you hear me better?

Ritchie: It keeps beeping. You keep getting feedback because maybe you have an open microphone.

Rachel: Ok, I’m sorry. I think I’ve pretty much understood. I think I’m just thinking in categories so when someone goes through a type of trauma or something like that, even though we are not addressing it because…

Ritchie: No, it’s not that we’re not addressing it. We are addressing it in a more positive way. We’re not ignoring it, we’re not not addressing it. The way we think to address it and solve it is to, one, find their strengths and, two, find what they want. The way to help them overcome their past traumas is not by dwelling on them and reinforcing them and reminding them how terrible it was but by compassionately understanding what they don’t want and then asking and finding out what they do what and finding out what strengths they have that will help them obtain what they do want.

So we are helping them overcome what they want to overcome but the way to help them overcome it is not by dwelling their pain but to dwell on what they want to accomplish and achieve. I don’t want to be angry, I don’t want to be fearful, I don’t want to be frightened. I don’t want to be anxious, I don’t want to be resentful, whatever it might be, I don’t want to be frightened, ok whatever it is, so I hear what you don’t want to be. Then instead dwell on, oh, I’d like to be clear, assertive, brave, self-confident, have better self-esteem, so how can you describe that in more detail and have you ever been a little bit of any of those? When have you been that? How did you accomplish that and helping them realize that they can be, and probably have at times, been much more of what they want. So how can you be more of what you want to be?

Because almost everybody, at some time, have been more or some of what they want to accomplish, so we help them get in touch, not with their weaknesses but get in touch with their strengths. Because everybody has both strengths and weaknesses, so rather than dwelling on their weaknesses, the way to help them accomplish more is use their strengths to get them where they want to go rather than keep rehashing their weaknesses. It’s sort of like having them keep staring at the problem, they’re still stunned like a rabbit or a dear in the bright lights. They’re still being paralyzed with fear. When have you ever been courageous and strong and successful and victorious and assertive? Ah ha! So how did you do that? How might you do more of that now? It’s a process of assisting them to be more in touch with their strengths and abilities and build their courage and confidence in a step by step move in the direction away from the trauma toward the desired future, rather than wallowing around in the pain and the misery that they’re trying to let go of.

The best way they’re letting go of the pain and the misery is let go of it and start moving in the direction that they want to go and using all the resources and skills. They’re survivors, no matter how traumatized they’ve been, they must be a survivor, so let’s recognize their success and let’s recognize their courage and let’s recognize their skills and let’s help them use them and cheer them on and encourage them and support them in it. And give them some role models if they want some guidance, help them sort through their priorities, help them evaluate and clarify. Help them brainstorm what they really want, there are a lot of techniques and tools to really help them, and if they have distorted or twisted thinking, that’s what cognitive is for, helping them sometimes overcome neurosis so that’s what cognitive and solution-focused help people do, you help them reframe it, you help them realize that their thinking is a little bit all or nothing or it’s a little labeling or it’s a little…whatever it may be. There are different types of distorted thinking that you can cognitively help them realize that discover that they don’t have to continue to distort their thinking. They can get more clarity. You can help them discover more clarity in their thinking.

Rachel: Thank you. That was very helpful.

Ritchie: Thank you. Ok, well we still have about half an hour, if we want; although, we can finish. We probably shouldn’t drag this out too long because people are probably running beyond their attention span, but I’m ready to extend a bit more but I think we will begin to wrap it up in ten, fifteen minutes, but if others have some other questions, if anybody else wants to speak up – Channie Berger spoke up, which I appreciate it, and some of our other graduates, I think one or two of our graduates and students are on, if any of you want to speak up, please do.

Miriam: Hi, this is Miriam Veg.

Ritchie: Yes, go ahead Miriam.

Miriam: Yes, hi I actually enrolled in your program and I look forward to starting next week. I’ve been listening to all the free lectures until now, I’m just curious about, I guess this would be towards the end, but how does one go about finding their niche?

Ritchie: We’ll actually address that not at the end but somewhere towards the middle. There will be a whole session given all to that, and there will be one discussion about it, and you’ll also see that it’s spelled out a little bit in the training manual. Steward Hirsch, who’s a superb executive coach, is one of those who will be running a session talking about that, and there are some pages of that in the training manual.

It does really depend on your interest and it does depend on the world that you’re in. What are you interested in and what do people respect you for?

Miriam: Right, so it’s kind of both because I see a need out there for many different areas, so I’m drawn towards that, but on the other hand, the things that interest me, sometimes they do overlap, but I guess my question is also, when I'm taking the course throughout the year, is there anything I should be focusing on differently depending on my niche?

Ritchie: You will sort of naturally by your own temperament and your own interest, but everything that you learn in the course will be useful for you.

Miriam: So it doesn’t matter…I don’t have to know which direction I want to go into.

Ritchie: No, it’s in a sense like I went through medical school then I chose to go through what, in those days, was called a rotating internship, I don’t even think they offer that anymore, but in medical school, no matter what doctor they’re going to be, a surgeon or a psychiatrist or a pathologist or a dermatologist all went through the same medical school. You have to learn the same basics, then some people chose and could, today, they mostly kind of force you to go, first year after medical school, you already choose your specialty. In my day, I got to choose what was called a rotating internship, in those twelve months, I could do something different each month. So one month, I could do surgery, one month I could do psychiatry, so one month I could do pediatrics, so I got exposed to all the different things. That, I still think, made me a better doctor no matter what I ended up doing and it did help me decide what I wanted to do. You don’t have to be in a terrible rush about choosing what you’re going to be doing, and during the rest of your life, you’ll be shaping by what people will be attracted to you and what people you’ll be attracted to helping, and you’ll be shaped by the ongoing learning. There are other ways to continue to learn with your work and with your clients and your training. We will offer a little bit of an advanced training, there are other programs you can train with, other books that you can read, your life will evolve as it evolves and sometimes you’ll be surprised where you’ll end up. Many people end up finding that they have more than one niche, they often have a couple of niches, you know. Some people will be more generalist than others and some people will be very narrowly and tightly focused because that’s what they enjoy and that’s what people respect them for. There’s no one way that it has to be so I wouldn’t worry about it. I would just learn everything you can and you will, by your nature, be attracted to what interests you, and everything you’ll be presented will be some help to you in some way. Even if, now, we’re applying coaching, let’s say to marriage, and you’re not going to deal with marriage, but still, it’s coaching and you learn something from it. How do you relate to a client? How do you process it? The basic skills are important no matter what you’re applying them to. Whether you’re applying them to a child or a married couple or an elderly person or a businessperson. Human relations, how you relate to your client, the basics are still the basics and being a coach is still being a coach.

Miriam: Ok, thank you very much. I look forward to your course.

Klein: Hello? Hi, professor. This is Channie Klein from Lakewood, I’m a graduate of yours. Very good. I just wanted to know if I could have your permission, possibly, to present something to the Refuah community.

Ritchie: OK.

Klein: I, personally, have completed it and I also went into EFT. I find that it totally works in harmony in which we are empowering the student in coming up with their solutions and how to move forward. I was just wondering, if I have your permission, because the person that I train by, maybe you’re familiar with him, he’s from Israel, Rabbi Emmanuel Logomsky.

Ritchie: Yes, I do know Emmanuel. He took my crisis counselor training about ten years ago.

Klein: Ok, anyway, right now he is in America in the New York/New Jersey area, and he is offering a one-day training seminar probably next Sunday for anyone that’s in Lakewood so for anyone who’s in the New York/New Jersey area, so anyone who might want to join this, so this might be very useful for the woman who has the friend that has problems for the one that had many crises, this might be something that she could apply and help her deal with the immediate crisis to help her calm down and whatever.

Ritchie: My only comment or hesitancy is I think EFT is a nice tool, I think it should be learned well and used by people who have enough experience and solid stability to use it. Any tool, it’s like a hammer is a very good tool and a screwdriver and a power saw, and to get a quick course on EFT in one session then think you know to do EFT, I don’t think is a great idea, I must say, although, you probably won’t do harm but potentially there theoretically could be. I think people should be well trained in whatever they do and should practice in safe ways before. So our whole coach training program is to see to it that you develop your skills in a balanced, thorough way, and you practice in a supervised environment, and EFT sounds relatively easy to learn but it is a relatively powerful tool and should be learned and used by people who are well trained so that would be my only hesitancy.

EFT is a derivative of neurolinguistic programming which is also a power tool. We teach a lot of that in our program, and like you did, you did it the right way, you first trained as a coach and then you took on as a coach additional training in EFT and I think you should be helping a lot of people with that. We had Sarah Osdoba was with us last week and she went on and did a whole year’s training in neurolinguistic programming which includes things like EFT and she was saying how much she had already learned in our course before she took that but she also went on to learn neurolinguistic programming, which includes EFT, it is a very big field, and it includes a wonderful tool but it behooves people to have a solid background and then thoroughly learn these things would be probably the better way to do it.

My wife is does EFT and teaches EFT. As a matter of fact, we used to offer training here in Israel, as a matter of fact, one of our students, back about ten years ago when we trained in EFT, we did a course the same as Professor Tabenshaka in positive psychology who took our course which was about a 20-hour course spread out over a month’s time, and he certainly had enough background. People with that background, he was very happy to have the opportunity to learn EFT and it can be learned by people with some background in something like 20-hours or so but again, that’s just the beginning. You still have to practice it in a safe environment to get good at it. I wish you great success in your work. If people want your help, then I’m sure you’re in a position to help people with your coaching and EFT on top of it, for those who want and need it.

Klein: Thank you, I really hope too. I just thought that being that he’s here, I thought the coaches could take advantage of that. He will be offering two days, he will be offering one day and then two days for more professionals for anyone who may be interested in that.

Ritchie: I haven’t heard him lecture recently. Years ago, he was just beginning, but I’m sure now he’s developed a bit. I haven’t seen what he does lately, but I know he does teach, so I’m glad to hear that.

Klein: Yeah, so he does a lot of work, he’s been to Israel and he’s doing a lot of work working with the top people in energy psychology, and I have found very, very helpful with the coach. I have applied it on myself and I find it very helpful coaching.

Ritchie: We will be doing a half-year program in NLP and EFT and related therapies for our graduates in about three or four months – some time in the next coming half year. We will be having a training program that will only be available to our coaching graduates, so we’ll send out a notice when that program is ready to go.

Klein: Thank you.

Ritchie: Thank you.

Woman 6: Can I ask a question?

Ritchie: Yes, go ahead.


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