Wellcoaches Four Pillar Foundation for Change
Choosing the right coaching system is not an easy matter. There are a multitude of coaching approaches and methodologies, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. After years of research and exploration, we settled on Wellcoaches as our program-wide coaching model. The Wellcoaches model fits perfectly with our core mission of creating sustainable long-term behavioral and attitudinal changes. It is an evidence-based practice utilized, and in the process of being studied, by major education and healthcare institutions, ranging from Duke and Emory University to the Mayo Clinic. For these reasons, we have adopted the Wellcoaches model and required all of our life skills coaches be certified (or in the process of certification). We are quite proud that Kelly Reynolds, the manager of our life skills department, is the only NBHWC board-certified life coach with Wellcoach training in the entire state of Maine!
What is Wellcoaches?
Wellcoaches is a coaching system that is based on positive psychology. It is a strengths based model that focuses on what is working for a clients and encourages both the coach and client to build around their victories and passions. It works by focusing on more than just motivation. It goes beyond by facilitating behavioral change through building self-efficacy, knowledge basis, and enabling individuals to be the agents behind their own growth. Wellcoaches has emerged as more than just a coaching system, it has become a field with deep roots in psychology, professional coaching, and behavior science. From 2009 to 2020, research teams across the country completed and published 22 peer-reviewed studies of Wellcoaches in scientific journals. All 22 studies showed positive, statistically significant outcomes. Wellcoaches is also working collaboratively to establish a "coaching science" along with the American College of Sports Medicine, the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the Australaisan Society of Lifestyle Medicine.
How is Wellcoaches incorporated in the Cornerstones' program?
Wellcoaches is the foundation of our life skills work and utilized by all of our staff from our residential department to our clinical department. Our life skills staff are either certified or in the process of working towards certification with Wellcoaches. The Wellcoaches model influences much of the day to day interactions that our team has with residents. The model has been transformative for our life skills staff, providing them with a foundation for their coaching practice and a reliable methodology for promoting change in our residents. Below is a description of how we incorporate the Wellcoaches' “Four Pillars Foundation for Change" into our program and daily practice.
Pillar One || The Journey Begins
Every process of change has a beginning and at Cornerstones it begins with a very intentional question. That is, "How do you want your life to look differently when you leave Cornerstones?" This first step is important because it allows the client the opportunity to dream without the implicit pressures inherent in many of the past questions asked to our residents about their plans and future. For many of our clients this is the first time they have had the opportunity to think about what they want their life to look like outside of the sometimes overwhelming demands, expectations, and responsibilities. Once a resident has begun to envision new destinations for themselves, we then start building a blueprint for the present. To that effect our clients are tasked with writing a Wellness Vision that will act as a roadmap to their success over the next 9-12 months. The Wellness Vision asks them to explore their personal goals and what they are currently doing to support them. They are then engaged to evaluate their degree of commitment to change and the support system in place to scaffold this. This Wellness Vision is revisited throughout their journey in our program and is a living document that evolves with the client.
Pillar Two || Counting Victories
Building self confidence and intrinsic motivation is a crucial element of the work that our coaches do at Cornerstones. Our process is based around the idea of recognizing our clients’ victories based on the work they have done, the commitment shown to change, and the courage they demonstrate in facing obstacles. The first victory at Cornerstones is the decision to commit to change. While this commitment may waiver after a resident begins the program, the effectiveness of our coaching model allows our clients to create an arsenal of positive accomplishments in their everyday lives that they can use to reflect on in moments of self doubt and struggle.
Pillar Three || Learning Your Language
The way we talk about ourselves and the obstacles we face is a decisive factor in how we move toward our goals. At Cornerstones we coach our clients to learn a language of self worth, self compassion, and self confidence. We coach our clients to speak to their strengths and focus their language on the life that they want and deserve. We also coach our clients around the language of nonviolent communication that allows many of them, for the first time, to communicate in an effective way that allows them to establish healthy social relationships. As we coach our clients in these skills, they are more able to look at their future with hope and to believe that they can achieve the goals set for themselves. We also coach around a core element of our program called PATH. This challenges our clients to do some deep self reflection and then to push themselves to take on new challenges.
Pillar Four || Self reflection
Self reflection is a fundamental element of our coaching process and guided by the Wellness Vision our clients create. It's reviewed repeatedly and referenced during moments of doubt. When a resident is faced with a challenge, they often reflexively resort to action and avoidance, rather than self-reflection. Our coaches encourage our residents to utilize moments of struggle to introspect rather than just act. This leads to a more mindful approach to decision making, which at times can lead to a course correction. For example, perhaps a client comes to us determined to go back to a path that is education based but once they begin to explore what actually drives them, they choose to change to a vocational direction. Our coaches support them during these processes by asking them to evaluate their steps, their commitment, and to rewrite their Wellness Visions. Changing course can be a highly rewarding and self-actualizing experience that teaches a sense of meaning and enhances purpose in their lives.