Narrative Coaching

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A – Z Coaching and Mentoring – This week’s extract explores Narrative coaching – the importance of keeping the client as the actor and narrator of their stories and ensuring our own stories aren’t affecting how we think and behave in coaching sessions.

Don’t forget if you have a special request for a definition of a coaching term or principle, just let us know! Perfect for anyone studying for an ILM Coaching & Mentoring qualification, or as a refresher for experienced coaches.


Narrative coaching – People experience their lives as a series of stories. A coach will have stories in their mind about previous coaching experiences and this will affect how they think and behave in a coaching session (their state or ‘being’). The client will also have stories and a coach can help the client explore these and make meaning of them. The stories of the coach should be irrelevant as they don’t belong to the client. Clients are the actor and narrator in their stories and the role of the coach is to be curious about that.

Coaching questions explore what the client notices, opens up new perspectives and generates new thinking.

Stories inform thinking, decisions, feelings and actions. Wahl, Scriber and Bloomfield (2008) suggest asking clients these questions: ?

  • What story are you living in? ?
  • How is that story empowering or limiting you? ?
  • What do you need to pay more attention to? ?
  • What are you learning about yourself?

Narrative coaching aims to shift a client’s stories about themselves, others and life in general, in order to create new results.

Taken from the A-Z Coaching Handbook by Clare Smale where you will find a comprehensive A-Z, plus a full list of references.

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