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What Is Holistic Coaching? | Holistic Coaching Techniques

  • POSTED ON MARCH 27, 2024
A young woman smiling contentedly with her eyes closed and face turned towards the sunlight, embodying the balance and harmony of holistic coaching in nature

Focus on the Whole Person: What is Holistic Coaching? 

Holistic coaching delves deep into the interconnectedness of our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual selves. It recognizes that true fulfillment comes from aligning all aspects of our being, living a life in accordance with our unique values, purpose, and vision, and being at choice, present, and fully expressed. 

The Co-Active Coaching Cornerstone 

In Co-Active Coaching, one of the four Cornerstones of our Co-Active Model is “Coach the Whole Person.”   

There are two main ways we hold this focus as coaches: 

Engaging the Whole Self in Coaching 

First, Co-Active Coaches invite the client to utilize their mind, body, emotions, and spirit/soul.   

Co-Active is ripe with myriad tools, skills, and ways of working with the client beyond the analytical mind.  In business and in life, most of us are overly reliant on our thinking minds and less engaged with our other channels of knowing and intelligence. 

Rather than simply trying to “figure things out,” Co-Active coaching engages the senses, creativity, lived experience, somatic wisdom/embodiment, intuition, present moment awareness, visualization, and visioning, the expression of emotions, and experiential learning.   

No part of the wise, creative, intuitive self is left on the table.  This is eye-opening, and often extraordinarily useful, particularly for people who tend to spend a lot of time thinking and solving problems (most of us), and less time utilizing other forms of wisdom.  

Coaching the Client's Entire Life 

Second, we coach the client’s whole life, meaning that no topic is off-limits.  While people come to coaching with specific areas of focus (for example, leadership skills, career goals, or health goals), the coach must allow space for how this topic fits into the client’s life on a broader scale.   

The Holistic Approach to Life's Challenges 

Someone climbing the corporate ladder and working long hours may find that their relationships are impacted, or they are struggling to find time to go to the gym or play the piano.  Rather than considering topics like that verboten in an Executive Coaching relationship, Co-Active coaches take a more holistic approach, knowing that the client’s whole life, and whole personhood is greater than the sum of its parts.  People are more than their roles, circumstances, titles, and history; Co-Active coaches include it all and go beyond.  Well-being, fulfillment, and feeling aligned with self, relationships, and community are all critical components of a life well-lived. 

Focusing on the Person, Not the Problem 

Life is always throwing curveballs; sometimes our client’s child is struggling, their beloved pet dies, they get a promotion, or they close on a house.  Ups and downs are inevitable and rather than avoid those topics, they can be included in the coaching sessions and relationships.  Clients are at choice about their primary focus for each session; our coaches are trained to step over nothing and to utilize a vast range of skills to meet each person where they are.   

Rather than problem-solving, the coach focuses on the person in front of them.  What matters about this topic?  What is the client longing for?  How does this fit into the longer arc of their life?  Who are they in relation to this topic?  What are they noticing in exploring this? What does their heart say?  What are the qualities of being needed in this situation?  Rather than offer solutions, the coach stays present, open, and curious.  People come to their own solutions, based on inner wisdom, with the support of and deep exploration with the coach. 

Embrace a Holistic Communication Approach 

If you are hoping to improve your ability to communicate with coaching clients, colleagues, and direct reports, in a whole person-focused, holistic way, sign up for Co-Active Fundamentals.

Shannon Kelly
Written By

Shannon Kelly  

I specialize in coaching paradigm-shifting, soul-searching leaders and solopreneurs who understand that the surest and most fulfilling path to personal and organizational transformation and success starts with the development of their own inner awareness, presence, self-love, and consciousness. I bring depth, boldness, laughter, warmth, and wit to my partnerships. I help leaders understand and refine their unique impact, improve communication skills, shed limiting beliefs, and step more firmly into legacy-level leadership. Steeped in social justice and emotional fluency work for a lifetime, I recognize that these lenses are essential in our unfolding future. I take a trauma-informed, somatically grounded, person-focused approach. I hold space for the highs and lows of living, loving, and working through this unique time in human history. I reside full-time at Sonoma Ashram and relish my "second shift" as a student, practitioner, and facilitator of Aghor Yoga. I am on the Board of Directors at the Ashram and am a founding and Board member of Coaching For Everyone, a non-profit dedicated to democratizing the coaching industry by providing coaching and coach training to people who identify as Black, Brown, POC and/or Indigenous.

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