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What is Coaching?


Rabbi Joshua Ritchie MD   •   June 8, 2014


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What is Coaching? What are the Advantages of Becoming a Refuah Coach?


Ritchie: While we’re waiting for more people to join us, why don’t we have people, like yourself, introduce yourself. Gavin, tell us what you do.

Gavin: I’m a Bar Mitzvah teacher in Cape Town. I’m also a certified clinical social worker. I’ve just decided to teach Bar Mitzvah for the time being, and that’s what I do.

Ritchie: Very nice. Why are you interested in coaching? I think it’s a very appropriate thing for you to be interested in, but I just want to hear you verbalize it.

Gavin: I think that it has always been my goal to help people actualize their dreams. I feel the classical counseling things seem to go around and around, and I’d rather speak about the future rather than about the past. If you can focus on future goals, that’s a wonderful way of empowering someone.

Ritchie: Beautiful. Well, you are making the right statements and you have the right points. Exactly right. Very nice. What have you been reading? You must have read a little bit about coaching or experienced something. You’re right on.

Gavin: I’ve had a bit of coaching, myself, and I feel that classical Judaism deals with coaching even the idea of God, the idea of repentance, it’s like a coaching idea because you can straight away move forward, and I just feel it is the ultimate coach.

Ritchie: Yeah, you’re right on. You’re giving my talk. Coaching is a new term, but coaching is not new. Coaching is something that we’ve been doing for a long time and being coached, so you’re right on. Very nice. Good, so we’ll talk some more about that this evening. Actually, you’re more or less in the same time zone as here in Israel, aren’t you?

Gavin: Yes, it’s 7 o’clock in Cape Town.

Ritchie: Yeah, here it’s 8. It’s just an hour difference between here and Cape Town. Ok, great. Is there anybody else that wants to introduce themselves? If you want to mute and unmute yourself if you’re connecting by telephone, by Skype, you have to do *7 and to mute yourself, you do *6.

Woman 1: Hello?

Ritchie: Yes, hello.

Woman 1: Oh hello, my name is Marie and I’m calling from New York City.

Ritchie: Yes.

Marie: I work with inner city families with emotional and mental issues. I work as a social worker, and I am interested in coaching because one of the problems I encounter as a social worker is for you to stabilize the family, you have to visit the trauma history – the underlying cause to the behavior and I find there is a lot of families who are not willing to go there. The program I work with, we have a year, and sometimes it might take more than a year to get the family to be willing to visit that trauma, whatever it is, and I did an introduction class on life coaching and what I learned from that introduction class is that life coaching is so not interested in the past but from here and going forward. I think that is correct? Is that correct?

Ritchie: Yes!

Marie: So I feel those families who are not willing to visit the past, if I can take them from here, forget about the past and moving forward, I think that would be a better avenue for me, and it would make my job more effective and so that is what draw me to want to do this course.

Ritchie: Beautiful. That’s quite right on. The past can be used to find successes and resources and skills and abilities that can be built on, but going around in circles around the problem can keep people stuck and to find a better future, it pays, as you say, to work with what they have now and looking towards the future as to where they want to go. Again, they say only using the past finding where they have successes and strengths and resources and abilities and taking advantage of those to help them build a better future, not to stay attached to do what doesn’t work and discover what does work and what will work and taking advantage of that, rather than staying stuck rehashing old problems. Very good. Very nice. Great! You people are looking for the right things at the right place! Anybody else want to speak up and introduce yourself?

Woman 3: Sir, this is Raquel.

Ritchie: Yes, Raquel.

Raquel: I’m in New Hampshire right now and on my way back to Israel. I’m a musician, a performing musician and also a therapeutic musician.  I’ve been in a few studies in New Hampshire in Hebrew working with all ages, and I think my goal has been to do more in my area in therapeutic music holistic services that way serving people through music, and as Gavin and Marie both said, in the therapeutic music world, what we usually do is we start musically and then we will then go forward to another place. I don’t know much about life coaching, but my whole life, apparently, that’s what I’ve been doing in one form or another – like in teaching guitar, for example, you find out that all sorts of things come forward in music lessons with people’s lack of confidence or insecurities or whatever and you move them forward through the instrument. So musically I feel I have been doing that, and I’d like to know more about life coaching in general because it seems like that’s been my direction without knowing it.

Ritchie: Yeah, right. Very nice.

Raquel: In the Jewish aspect of it, it’s extremely important, and as Gavin already said that’s the coach so this appeals to me from all of those angles.

Ritchie: Yes, very nice. Thank you

Raquel: Thank you.

Ritchie: I’d be happy if there are any others who want to speak up and introduce themselves like you have done so nicely.

Man 1: Hello, Dr. Ritchie.

Ritchie: Yes, hello.

Man 1: Daniel Raskins from Mianochishiva.

Richie: Oh wonderful! Which Mianochishiva are you located in?

Raskins: In Jerusalem’s program.

Richie: Yeah, yeah that’s a great place.

Raskins: Interesting topic and I’m wondering if you’re going to cover, later in the evening, if we don’t specifically know we want to be a coach, but if it would be helpful in other fields, for example, music therapy for example, other therapies for example, other life skills, I guess. Plan on cross over. I don’t know – just stick around and listen? I don't know if that’s a planned topic…

Richie: Yeah, we’ll be talking about how coaching is actually applicable to almost everybody in almost any place in their life. Coaching is something that’s a natural part of the way we learn and help people learn and grow and develop and achieve their goals and reach their fulfillment. It’ s just an approach as to how you can do that most effectively. It’s an art and a science that gives you more tools and more effective ways of working with people very efficiently and can be applied in all of these different ways – whether you’re tutoring someone in Lomora or you’re teaching music or you’re working with your children or helping somebody in an organization, either their supervisor or…we’ll go through that a little bit. Whenever people are learning and growing and striving to accomplish more, a coach helps them do that, and the more skillful a coach you are, the more helpful you’ll be to people. And it can be applied in innumerable ways from helping super successful people become more successful to helping people who are quite challenged, in some ways, still help them accomplish as much as they want to accomplish. Our goal is to join people, wherever they’re at, and help them accomplish what they’re capable of accomplishing.

Raskins: I need help going back to mute.

Richie: If you’re on the phone,*6 will get you muted again and *7 will get you unmute you – allowing you to talk and *6 will mute you again. Great, thank you. Did anybody else want to say hello before I launch into my talk, and I do, again, invite you to participate with your comments and questions, as we go along this evening.

Woman 4: Hello, it’s Laia Levowitz.

Richie: Oh Laia! How are you?

Levowitz: Very good.

Richie: Thank you for joining us.

Levowitz: No, it’s my pleasure. If there’s anything you think I can help you with, please let me know. It would be great. For those of you who are listening, I took this coaching course and thought it was absolutely amazing – extremely helpful, gave me the tools I need and the methods to be professional in what I’m doing. If you have other questions, more specifically, I’d be more than happy to answer them.

Richie: Laia, why don’t you tell us what you do>

Levowitz: OK, my niche is dealing with the parents and family members of people with psychiatric issues. We help and deal with this issue, and we help them deal with their psychiatric issues – have a more fulfilling life, reach their potential, tap into their strengths, and first and foremost, be very proud of themselves. Those with lack of self-esteem understand how valuable and how hardship with every human being is and it’s surprising how many of these people have wonderful, wonderful strengths and have wonderful, wonderful attributes that they can share with the world, and that’s one of the hardest things is to get them to have the confidence but this course helped me very much in giving me tools to how to conduct a coaching session – how to conduct a coaching session, how to listen better, how to help these people come up with a solution, that’s priceless. I could go on and on.

Ritchie: Thank you. That’s an amazing introduction.

Levowitz: Oh and Rabbi Ritchie? The things you told me I only want to emulate, so God please help me, about something that’s priceless because when you listen to a lot of things that you’ll hear that aren’t exactly pretty and how to put everything with the right perspective was phenomenal.  I highly recommend it – whoever is interested in taking this. Also coaching is just about for everything.

Ritchie: Where are you in the training program? I don’t remember if you’re towards the end…?

Levowitz: I’m basically finished. I just finished up my paper, I have to email it in, and all of the other requirements have to be emailed in and I have an appointment on Tuesday morning with Yashai Gordon.

Ritchie: Right, wonderful and thank you for commenting on my wife Lillian, who’s one of our teachers. She’ll be saying a word in a minute.

Levowitz: Oh that would be amazing. I’m looking forward to meeting Professor Anderson.

Ritchie: Yeah, we’re looking forward to your visit also. It’s always a joy. We really look forward to your visit that will be very exciting for us. We get to know you but not well enough, and it’s really nice to meet people in person, but it’s amazing how connected we do become even though we’re not physically in contact, how much we do develop a real connection working together. You and your fellow students as well, I’m sure.

Levowitz: Oh sure – I’ve met some wonderful people, and also I don’t feel alone meaning I can always be in touch and in contact. It’s like having this warmth and knowledgeable family always available and it’s wonderful.

Ritchie: It’s a built in support system on every level – professionally and as you say, like family, where people are very empathetic and very supportive – that’s how education and learning is supposed to be. It’s collaborative, cooperative team effort and not competitive. Certainly, we encourage everyone – it’s not a competitive seed – this is a hands on practical training program where we try to practice what we preach. It’s very important that people feel empowered and feel respected and understood and loved and cared for and build their confidence and self-esteem so that they can function at their highest potential level. Everybody can function at a higher level if they’re just coached and supported and encouraged. It’s beautiful the work that you’re doing.

Levowitz: Thank you.

Ritchie: Thank you.

Raquel: May I ask a few questions? This is Raquel.

Ritchie: Yes, please.

Raquel: I was just wondering if you’ll address at some point the liberalism or holiness to participate in this course and to actually carry it out and how well-versed you expect us to be as well as the work prospect would be following graduation.

Ritchie: We only expect people to be complete, holy sadiki and perfect in every way – otherwise you have no place here. No, obviously I’m the paragon and the role model, we are all learning and we are all growing and that’s the process of life. There’s a beautiful saying that I have heard many, many times, and he was often saying that many people who came to him were not religious or they were just beginning or just exploring, and sometimes they would ask him, why are you wasting your time? Really? And he quoted a quote, sort to speak from God, “One Comes to Improve Themselves to Elevate Themselves to Purify Himself.” God, himself, sends his divine angels to escort himself on the way. Those who are coming to grow are escorted on the way.

The question is it God itself literally or is it the angels? So we can debate whether its angelic or which level of divinity it is, but the obvious answer is, no matter what level you’re starting on – if you’re looking to grow, you’re going to be escorted along the way. You’re going to be part of the support system, so there’s not a criteria of – we have no way of measuring your holiness. We hope that the people who are joining us – and we find that to be true – are people who are motivated by very good intentions – to help others, the main pillars of our whole program are you are striving to be empathetically understanding of people, you’re striving to understand them with compassion and rochmaness, that you’re respectful for people, you have positive regard for people, you don’t judge people critically, but you judge them, so to speak, you are looking at everyone with unconditional positive regard or unconditional love and basically, that you’re following the commandments, the Mizvah, that you shall love your neighbor as yourself, which is a foundation of everything. 

If you’re looking to serve people lovingly, respectfully, non-critically and looking to understand them with empathy and compassion, then you’ll make a great coach and we’ll be delighted if you join the program and learn some of the methodology and technology and practice your skills where you can be really, really good at helping people. You asked me another question, I think, at the end of it, you just slipped away…what do we do when we finish? Is that what you asked?

Raquel: What are the realistic expectations for gaining employment?

Ritchie: So there are lots of ways that people are employed and part of it is obviously in living your life and helping your family and your surroundings and your community – depends in part your talents, your skills, your community, your background and your desire and who wants and needs your services. Some people are using what they learn here to just grow and further their own career whether it’s in education or working with people, some of them are in administration, some of them are in business, people are in all sorts of fields where having better communication skills and coaching skills that they’re able to supervise or manage people better, educate people better, draw the closer better, people find that certainly advances or promotes or opens new career options.

There are people who want to do coaching per say as a profession, and some of them get hired in various systems, like school systems, for example, where they will be doing guidance counseling kind of work or tutoring kind of work coaching people, and there are people who develop private practices and a number of our students have developed very nice private practices where they are as busy as they can be, but that’s not universal. Not all of our students want and are seeking to build a private practice, if that’s your desire, it will impart depend on who your population is that you look to serve – if you look to make a living out of it, we encourage you to find a population that can afford your services. What’s nice about coaching is by in large, it’s done as a private practice, if you have a private practice, and people pay their own fees. In general, good coaches are making more than therapists. People who are successful who want and need coaches will pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars an hour for good coaching.

One of our good faculty people, who probably, will hopefully introduce themselves in a little bit, he’ll probably be joining us in a little while, Steward Hirsch, he’s an executive coach who has been doing this for almost twenty years. He makes a very handsome income. He does pay his full taxes, I must tell you, he’s one of the most honest people I’ve met, but he doesn’t want to boast about the number he makes but he makes a lot of money – working just as a coach. But that doesn’t mean everybody will. That depends on who you are, who you want to work with, what type of clients, a lot of people do two – they might do both. Some people do education and may have a little private practice on the side, so it’s really very variable. I think almost all of our students talk about how much of a difference it has made in their lives in general and how grateful they are for what they have learned and the skills they have acquired and are using in day-to-day living everyday.

I think everybody is advancing in their career in some way and their potential and accomplishments. The developing of a private practice really does depend on you. We will train you in the course how to do some marketing, how to find your niche, how to develop your professionalism, so if you do choose to do that, we will give you the guidance and the assistance to do that, so it’s up to you. There are many niches. People usually choose a niche based both on what’s needed and what your background and strengths are. Does that sort of answer your question? Do you want to add anything on top of that or clarify?

Raquel: Yes, it clarifies it. I know I’m jumping ahead of this, but I’m going to be returning to Israel hopefully this year, and I guess, specifically, in Israel, are you training people in Israel and do they receive work afterwards?

Ritchie: Yes, we do. We have quite a number of them who have built a private practice, a number of them who have gotten better teaching positions, counseling positions or guidance counseling or coaching, so for sure. That doesn’t guarantee you. That’s like if I said if you graduate from college, will I…? Each person will find their way, but it certainly gives you with credentials and tools that will give you an edge over someone who doesn’t have it.

Raquel: And you say credentials are very important, in America, for example, you are accredited and all of that?

Ritchie: There are two credentials that you would get – you would receive a Refuah Institute diploma which has gained quite a high regard because we’re well known now because we have so many great graduates. If you look at our website, you’ll see a list of close to 300 graduates with quite some impressive names there, and two is when you successfully complete the program, you will become accredited by the American Association of Professional Coaches – in which you are a certified coach. Throughout the world, coaching is a professional certification, there is no government licensing of it – neither in the U.S., neither in Israel, not anywhere in the world is their licensing. It is a professional recognition and yes, you will have that recognition and you will be certified by a very respectable certifying body, but what you do with it, then, again, you could have a degree, a diploma, you have a certification, it’s still going to be up to you, what you want to do with it, but it certainly gives you an edge. But more importantly than the certification, you’ll have the skills. You will have worked with clients, if you know how to network with them, they will be your references, they will be your referrals because people you have helped will recommend you to others and will be your biggest advocates, your biggest champions and boosters are the people you successfully help.

Raquel: OK, thank you.

Ritchie: You’re very welcome. Unless somebody has another question, I’d like to tell you a little more about coaching. Tell you what our perspective is on coaching, but if somebody else has another question or comment, I’d be glad to hear it. Just one second…I see some other people have joined us, which is nice…I see some nice names on our screen…

Woman 5: Hello?

Ritchie: Yes, hello.

Woman 5:  Hi, it’s Raquel Laura.

Ritchie: Yes, go ahead.

Laura: My question is the certificate that you get from the American Association of Professional Coaches – it this something that has to be renewed or is it one time and then you get it?

Ritchie: No, once you qualify for that, you are certified and you do not have to renew it, no. Once you meet the criteria, which is completing the program with enough hours of coaching and enough hours of this and that, there are certain standards and once you have met all of the criteria and get approved by them, you are certified by them for the rest of your career. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to grow and improve, but you won’t be reexamined, no.

Laura: Thank you.

Ritchie: You’re welcome. As we have said, about coaching, coaching is not a new “way” in the world – it’s a very ancient “way” in the world, but it is new terminology that only developed in about the last fifty years that’s become very popular and is a buzz word. It’s a good concept – it’s a great concept. I think it’s the way for people to achieve their potential and the best way to help people to grow, so coaching is the approach best Torah approach. I learned coaching not just from the modern textbooks and from the model in training program and not just from my medical background.

I don’t know if you all know, but I graduated from the University of California – San Francisco School of Medicine many years ago and taught in a number of medical schools in the United States and in Israel, so it’s not only from my medical background and it’s not only from my professional background of training doctors and training coaches and counselors, these past fifteen years, but I think I learned the most, probably, and the most inspiring was, in the years when I was privileged to by a ben bias in Jerusalem.

I came to teach in the medical school in 1968, and I found, I chose to live in Biat Began and found an apartment and found ourselves living within much less a five minute walk from to the Upshon of Yeshiva and once I found myself there and found myself being greeted by a sweet, kindly elderly gentleman who greeted me like a long, lost friend, and he made me feel very much at home. I soon found myself hanging out with my friend everyday, and if I ever missed a day, he would check me and ask me what happened to our friendship? You don’t come around? Where were you yesterday?

So I got the message – there were many a time that I would be coming home very late at night – maybe one time I remember was after getting done with a conference in Tel Aviv. I was really quite tired and I had gotten up early in the morning and I had gone to Tel Aviv, and I had had a quite an eventful day, and I needed to get home but knew once I’d go home, I’d be really tired and I’d probably have supper and fall asleep, so I thought I’d better go see the rabbi first because if I don’t stop by and see him, I probably won’t get back up – the apartment was up a few flights of stairs, I probably wouldn’t have the strength – so to speak, so I made a point to go see him, so he greeted me, again, like a long lost friend.

I was very privileged to sit in on him receiving people in yeshidas, where I got the hutzva to do that, we never discussed, but I just found myself sitting there and just being privileged to observe how he worked with people, just being able to listen. I once calculated more than a thousand hours over a period of 7, 8 years – having him see more than a thousand people in yeshidas. In retrospect, I learned years later, what was called modern coaching, I realized what he was doing was coaching because it wasn’t anything I, so to speak, recognized as therapy or counseling or advice giver or being a consultant or whatever you might call it. When I did start reading the literature and coming to get an idea with coaching, then I understood what he was doing. He was a master at coaching.

Excuse me? Oh ok – I’ve been just told, thank you, Yashai, that we have one of our senior faculty, who is really an outstanding coach, we mentioned him earlier, Stewart Hirsch, who’s an executive coach and what’s called, a very remarkable skilled coach – gives a number of our lectures on a number of topics for us and guides you in acquiring a lot of skill. He’s going to be with us and only has ten-fifteen minutes, so I’ll have him take over for us for a few minutes. Stewart, can you speak up and introduce yourself and what you do?

Hirsch: Sure, can you hear me?

Ritchie: I do.

Hirsch: Well, I don't know which line I came on. Why don’t you ask me some questions that you want me to really discuss, if you don’t mind.

Ritchie: I think, at this point, they don’t know your background, so why don’t you discuss what you do in coaching and what you want to share.

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