Back To School with Emotional Intelligence

My summer break has really taken me on an emotional journey. I have seen my daughter anticipate her ‘A’ Level exam results and worry about ‘what ifs’. Then feel relief as she received the results she needed to get into  university followed by frantic shopping for ‘stuff’ as she starts the next stage in her education away from home.

My emotions seem to be on a roller coaster going from excitement in what lies ahead for her to sadness that our house will not be the same without her in it. At least she will be home in the holidays and no doubt with lots of washing to keep me busy!

Life has been hectic to say the least and it was actually quite grounding to return to school this week and get back into my normal routine.

This week also had me attending a fantastic Emotional Intelligence training day in Richmond with Richard Reid from Pinnacle Therapy. I spent the day with a group of other students learning about:

  • What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  • The impact EQ has on the brain
  • The link between thoughts and emotions
  • Mindfulness
  • Negative thinking patterns
  • The difference between fixed and growth mindsets
  • Effective communication and listening skills
  • Persuading, influencing and negotiation skills

As I develop my knowledge around emotional intelligence, the more I realise that this is something that needs to be included in the school curriculum for young people to have a more happy, contented and stable life.

Emotional intelligence is something that I cover in my school coaching sessions and the difference it can make to a young person’s life can be significant. It can help with the development of:

  • Resilience
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skills

The feedback that I get from my students regarding the development of their emotional intelligence is that they feel:

  • Less frustrated and confused about things that happen both in and out of school
  • They feel they are a better person
  • They are able to look at things from another persons point of view
  • They have the ability to stay focused and not let life situations distract them from the task in hand
  • They can communicate more effectively
  • They learn how to let go

On Friday 6th October 2017 I will be attending The International Positive Education Network (IPEN) conference ‘ Next Steps for Wellbeing in Education’ in London. I am hoping that Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness will be on the agenda and how they can be introduced into schools on a larger scale.

If you know of a young person who is struggling in or out of school and would benefit from life coaching then please contact me.

Fun And Mentoring With National Citizen Service (NCS)

What a fun day I had yesterday mentoring 57 young people on the NCS  programme in Reading, UK.

I was invited by Holly Glasson (Assistant Programme Manager) from NCS:The Challenge to work with 3 groups of students in the 16-17 year age group regarding stress and anxiety management and to talk about the work that I do in local secondary schools.

There were also two other presenters, covering CV writing and also on identifying and using your strengths.

Holly also asked me to mentor one of the groups regarding their charity business project before pitching it to four different business people in a ‘Dragons Den’ scenario later this week.

Their project was to create 60 shoe boxes containing a variety of items for young people to be shipped out to Zimbabwe. Their charity was ‘Creating Better Futures’ for children affected with AIDS.

During the week the team had developed their knowledge around:

  • Risk assessments
  • SMART goal setting
  • SWOT analysis
  • Budget/costing
  • Fundraising
  • Organisation skills
  • Time management
  • Presentation skills

I was impressed that the students were passionate, motivated and determined in their tasks whilst also having fun, learning new skills and making new friendships.

I would fully recommend NCS to any teenager wanting to meet new people, learn about charity fundraising and develop business and organisation skills for their future career.

The programme is well structured and organised and there are plenty of younger mentors involved in assisting the programme manager, most of them having previously been on the programme themselves.

This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to gain invaluable skills that they might not get exposure to in school, and to take forward into their future careers

More information about NCS can be found by clicking here or you can contact Holly Glasson.

I am so glad to have been part of the NCS students journey and wish them well for their presentation pitch and final week.

How My Coaching Work Has Changed

When I started my coaching practice three and a half years ago I was not expecting my youth work to grow in the way that it has.

My work with young people in local secondary schools has completely changed since I started out, and my experience of coaching teenagers around educational pressure and the problems it brings has grown exponentially.

My coaching work has expanded from one to one and group student coaching work to facilitating and training teaching staff and working with social services and parents. I have even done home visits and coached students who are unable to get into school for a particular reason. These visits have enabled me to assist pastoral teams to improve student performance and attendance whilst supporting my students and their parents as well.

It has certainly been an interesting journey so far and I know there is even more change to come. I am looking forward to seeing how the next year develops and where my coaching work is going to lead me. As a person who enjoys change and variety I cannot wait to see where my work takes me next.

If you are a school or educational environment that would benefit from working with me or you know of a young person that is struggling in life then please contact me.


Fun Planning, Building Resilience and Reducing Stress

As Exam season draws to a close and the summer holidays get nearer then it is time to switch my student coaching focus and ‘Bring on the Fun.’

Fun planning is essential if my students are to return to education in September feeling happy, contented and relaxed. Holidays are an excellent opportunity to balance out their work/fun budget, build resilience and reduce stress levels.

As the proverb states ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ meaning that without time off from work we become both bored and boring.  It has been said that some writers have added a second part to the proverb stating ‘All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.’

The most  important thing here to remember is that we need to lead a balanced life if we are to be able to deal with whatever life throws at us whether that is personally or professionally.

My Mum always used to say ‘Kathrine, if you do everything in moderation then you won’t go far wrong.’ She was absolutely right and as a holistic life coach, moderation and balance are important  features of my coaching work. If you work hard then you need to balance that out and play hard too.

These principles apply to all of us no matter what age we are. I find that grabbing opportunities to enjoy life, having fun and doing what makes us happy means that when the not so good stuff happens we are more resilient to deal with it and we can manage stress more effectively. By leading a balanced life we tend to be more resourceful when finding solutions and we bounce back from negativity quicker.

If you want to lead a more balanced and happy life and you are ready to make a change then contact me.

Coaching, NLP and Excellence

Recently I have found myself using my Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) skills as I work with my clients and their anxiety around education and the workplace.

Exam pressure and anxiety regarding presenting have featured significantly in my coaching sessions over the last few months.

One of my favourite NLP tools is the ‘Circle of Excellence’ which enables people to increase their positive emotions, broaden their sense of possibilities and get them into the ‘right state’. By opening the mind it allows my clients to build new skills and resources and obtain success in what they want to achieve.

The Circle of Excellence is a basic self-anchoring process originally developed by Dr John Grinder, co-creator of NLP. It can be used to elicit, create and stabilise desired states by using an imaginary circle on the floor as a spatial anchor. It requires no tools or other kit so it can easily be created wherever the person maybe.

Here are five things I ask my clients to consider when using the ‘Circle of Excellence’ technique:

  • Know how you want to feel by asking yourself the question ‘How do I want to feel in my exam, presentation, rugby game’ (e.g focused, confident, calm, excited)
  • Design a ‘Circle’ that works for you as an anchor
  • Anchor your desired states
  • Test your anchor
  • Remember that your resource exists and use it

If you know of someone that would benefit from coaching and NLP then please contact me.

Have a great week in the sunshine.

Coaching Teenagers with OCD

Recently I have been working with several students that are affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

OCD is a mental health disorder that can affect people of different age groups or walks of life where they get caught up in a circle of obsessive and compulsive behaviour. OCD can involve unwanted/intrusive thoughts, urges and images that can trigger intense and distressing feelings.

Types of obsession can be:

  • Fear of contamination – dirt, germs or mental contamination with uncomfortable feelings of internal uncleanliness
  • Religious, Relationship, Violent and Sexual intrusive thoughts or images- can be a fixation with a celebrity, the Devil and the number 666 or a person from a previous relationship
  • Fears/Worries related to order or symmetry – a fear that something bad will happen if everything is not exactly right or in the correct place or order.

Types of compulsion can be:

  • Rituals – excessive hand washing, arranging objects in a particular way
  • Checking – excessive checking that doors are locked, checking directions to somewhere over and over again
  • Correcting Thoughts – counting to a certain number before doing something or replacing an intrusive thought with a different image
  • Reassurance – repeatedly checking with people to confirm that everything is alright

In my experience of working with these students I have found the following to be very useful in assisting them to move forward with their OCD:

  • Listening and understanding what their fears and thoughts are about
  • Gently questioning them to find out what their triggers and symptoms are
  • Building their awareness of what happens to their thoughts and physiology when experiencing OCD
  • Finding out how they want to move forward and what will work specifically for them
  • Creating specific, realistic and time related goals that they can achieve
  • Managing change on a small and gradual scale that is not extreme to them and their world

People with OCD can get unwanted thoughts throughout the day which can be very distressing and affect their ability to socialise with others and concentrate on their studies or career.

Young people have told me that finding somebody they can trust and building an open relationship is vital if they are to change and improve their OCD.

If you know of someone that has OCD and would benefit from working with me then please get in touch.


X-Plan: Giving Young People A Way Out!

I read an interesting article recently by a guy called Bert Fulks who spends time with young people going through addiction recovery.

The subject he had written about really resonated with me as a youth coach and a parent.

He asked his young people a simple question: “How many of you have found yourself in a situation where things started happening that you were not comfortable with, but you stuck around mainly because you felt like you did not have a way out?”

They all raised their hands!

The situations they had found themselves in were to do with sex, drugs, alcohol and crime and usually when they were not ready for it.

Peer pressure and not wanting to be socially different pushed them into doing things they would not normally do. They said they felt cornered and there was no alternative. In some cases they were not where they had told their parents they were going so asking to be rescued was not an option. Drinking the alcohol or taking the drugs was an easier option than being in trouble with Mum and Dad.

This is where the “X-Plan” comes in and provides a young person with an ‘out.’ It is a simple but powerful plan that can provide a lifeline to our children at any time.

For example, if a young person is dropped off at a party and something comes up that makes them feel uncomfortable or they do not want to do it then all they have to do is text Mum or Dad a letter “X.” The person who receives the text rings the young person and follows a very specific conversation format, something like this:

(Parent) “Hello, something has come up and I have to come and get you right now.”

(Young Person) “What has happened?”

(Parent) “I will tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave as I am on my way.”

The young person tells the group they have to leave and that someone is coming to get them.

This provides the young person with a way out whilst not opening themselves up to social ridicule.

The critical part of the X-Plan once the young person has been removed from the situation is that they do not have to talk about what has happened. The choice is completely theirs as to whether they want to or not. Also there has to be an agreement that parents will pass no judgements and ask no questions about the situation. There has to be a  relationship of trust between all parties if this is to work effectively.

The only exception is that if the young person knows that someone is in danger then they have a moral obligation to speak up for their protection, no matter what it may cost them personally.

Coaching young people in school often means that we discuss the negative impact technology and social media has on our lives. In the case of the X-Plan it means we can use technology to help our children where we can and in a more positive way.

I feel that the X-Plan certainly offers young people an alternative option when difficult situations arise and a plan of action for parents to give  their children a way out.

If you know of a young person that is struggling in life and would benefit from life coaching then please contact me.


Assisting Young People Through Grief

Coaching young people in schools means that occasionally I work with students that are experiencing grief. Last week at the Mental Health in Education Conference, Julia Samuel, author of ‘Grief Works’ stated that 1 in 9 children suffer grief from the death of a significant person in their life.  I had not realised just how many young people are affected.

In my experience of coaching young people through grief I have had success from:

  • Building trust
  • Giving them space so that they can release their emotions
  • Allowing them to express their grief in their own way
  • Offering them the opportunity to talk about what is worrying them
  • Listening actively to what they have to say
  • Talking about the real situation rather than protecting them from it
  • Giving them information to enable them to understand what is happening to them so that they can grieve
  • Taking them out of their classroom for a ‘walk and talk’ to change the environment
  • Doing something else with them like playing a game
  • Asking them how they want to be treated so that they have some choice and control in their life

Young people often tell me that they feel the truth and full facts are kept from them because adults feel they need to be protected. This can add to their confusion and frustration and does not help with their grieving process. In a lot of cases they tell me they feel isolated and disconnected.

Giving young people the choice of who they want around them to support them through grief is also very important. If there is no rapport or relationship of trust then young people will find it very difficult to open up and release the pain they are feeling inside.

Teachers can also play a big part in assisting young people in school who are grieving. Offering them space, time-outs, support, kindness and understanding can make a huge difference. Having a signal system to let teachers know they are struggling has certainly helped one of my students cope with being in the classroom. Just knowing that if things get too much they can go out without the rest of the class knowing they are struggling has made life easier and more manageable.

School pastoral teams can also help by recording key dates like anniversaries and birthdays to build school awareness regarding changes in a students behaviour around these sensitive times and to incorporate flexibility around work deadlines.

Family can also make a difference by talking about how grief is affecting them as they could be experiencing similar emotions. Discussing the change in the dynamics of a family when a key member disappears is a crucial part of the grieving process which can then lead to acceptance and loss of that person. Discussing how and what needs to change will assist in the restoration of the family’s natural equilibrium.

The main thing is that young people who are grieving need to feel connected with family, friends and school. Being able to let the pain out means they can then build the strength and resilience they need to carry on with their own life.

If you know of a person that is suffering from grief and would benefit from coaching then please contact me.


Mental Health in Education, The Next Steps…..

On Friday I attended the Mental Health in Education Conference in London which was organised by the International Positive Education Network (IPEN).

The day consisted of an array of inspirational speakers from a variety of backgrounds – from authors to clinicians. There were also some amazing trade stands offering a range of tools and techniques that could be used in schools to build character, self-confidence, personal awareness, regulate behaviour and foster optimism and resilience.

Sir Anthony Seldon was our chair for the day and he got things off to a mindful start by getting us to take a few deep breaths and bring ourselves into the present moment. He then went straight into a vibrant welcome and kick-started the programme of speakers.

Getting young people to ‘flourish’ in education was the theme of the day and not just in an academic sense! This was music to my ears as so many of my students tell me they do not feel valued when they are not academically minded.

The speakers covered topics such as:

  • Promoting good mental health for all
  • A happiness focus needs to be a goal for all schools
  • Nurturing students to flourish and succeed
  • Having a balanced approach around measurements, not just about academia
  • Life skills to be taught in school at least once a week possibly in the PHSE slot
  • All schools to have a wellbeing code that includes teachers, students and parents
  • More communication, support and connection between parents, students and teachers
  • Every school to have a senior teacher in charge of mental health
  • All teachers to have basic mental health training
  • Parents and teachers to encourage young people to have more of a sense of belonging around their education
  • Positive psychology advocates wellbeing and healthy mental health

The speakers of the day were:

The main points that I took away from the day are:

  • The core curriculum needs to include educating young people to develop healthy wellbeing, life satisfaction and happiness.
  • Shifting the focus in education to what students can do rather than what they can’t
  • Working with what fascinates and what is familiar with students to improve engagement in the classroom
  • Injecting more fun into education
  • Young people need to be taught about healthy mental health from a young age to help them develop optimism and reduce helplessness
  • Mental health prevention is better than cure and leads to less suffering and cost

Finally there were two other speakers who were my absolute favourites and they were Naomi Lea and George Fielding from the #iwill campaign.

Naomi spoke about her own struggle with panic and anxiety and said she had received fantastic support from Childline. She confirmed that being involved with the #iwill project and volunteering is what made the difference. It helped her to develop new skills, confidence  and overcome her anxiety. Standing up and being able to talk to us all on Friday at the conference was an amazing achievement, she was utterly inspirational.

George is a philosophy student and #iwill ambassador. He is also ‘on wheels’ as he puts it,  and a definite entertainer. He said that education does not encourage students to be individual or to learn from each other. He wants students to be who they want to be and be educated how they want to be educated and they need to shout for that change. He was passionate, inspiring and captivating, he brought tears of pride to my eyes and also had lots of us on our feet when he had finished.

Life has not been easy for George or Naomi and they have overcome their challenges whilst helping others and contributing to their communities. How amazing is that!

The event was rounded up on a fun note with Sir Anthony Seldon playing a clip of himself singing ‘Happy‘ by Pharrell Williams which was filmed at Wellington College, Berkshire, UK.

I had an awe-inspiring day listening to outstanding speakers and learning lots about how we can all make a difference to young people in education. I can’t wait to see what happens next regarding what the influential speakers from Friday’s event do to implement change around mental health in education.

If you were at the event on Friday I would love to hear your comments so please feel free to contact me.

Mental Health, the London Marathon and Making a Change…

Today has seen lots of amazing people cross the finish line of the 2017 London Marathon after months of planning, preparation and many hours of practice runs to achieve their hard earned goals.

Many were running to raise funds for charities like Cancer Research, British Liver Trust, Marie Curie, Breast Cancer, Diabetes UK and Heads Together.

It was great to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry presenting runners with their medals as well as raising awareness for mental health.

Heads Together is the Charity of the Year for the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon which is spearheaded by the young royals. The charity provides frontline mental health support to young people whilst raising awareness and tackling stigma.

I am pleased to hear that mental health is being more talked about and I look forward to seeing what happens in the very near future to improve the lives of those who are suffering in silence.

Coaching teenagers with mental health disorders over the last 3 years has taught me that they often feel like they have nowhere to go, that nobody listens to them or that they have no choice or control over their lives. Sometimes the action they take in response to this lack of control can be a health damaging behaviour such as self-harm, eating disorders or even retracting from everyday life. I find just giving them some time to talk, listening to what they have to say and then assisting them in making changes, whatever they want that to be, can make all the difference.

Quite often the smallest change can make the biggest difference.

As I coach my students, they develop the skills to create specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time related goals for themselves, so that after our sessions have completed they can continue independently. They develop ability and control so there is no dependency on me.

Setting goals with my students is not so unlike setting a goal to run the London Marathon. Both require preparation, planning and lots of practice if success is to be achieved.

If you would like to know more about the coaching and mentoring work that I do in schools or you know a young person that is struggling in life, then please contact me.