Neuroscience – A-Z of Coaching & Mentoring

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A – Z Coaching and Mentoring – This week’s extract highlights neuroscience, the study of the nervous system and brain structure, and its application in coaching.


Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and brain structure. Neuroscience has evolved more recently than coaching and is beginning to provide the evidence (through MRI technology) that supports what coaches have instinctively known to be successful. The application of neuroscience research into coaching includes:
  • Neuroplasticity – the brain is adaptable and can change with effort and intention. This is commonly referred to as ‘rewiring thoughts’.
  • New neural pathways can be created with new thinking. The more a pathway is used, the stronger it becomes. Each time an action is repeated, a fatty covering called myelin coats the neural pathway, making connections stronger.
  • There are trillions of possible neural connections. Some of them are effective habits and behaviours, whilst others are limiting beliefs and ineffective strategies. Unused connections are a person’s potential.
  • A person’s default setting is to neurological pathways that are already developed, so change requires focus, support, intention and effort. Coaching offers this and can help a client to re-wire their brain for greater effectiveness.
  • Research using MRI scans shows enhanced activity in brain areas associated with learning and behavioural change when a coach is open, compassionate, and helps the client focus on a positive future. This activity is not present when the coach focuses on their client’s failings, has an answer for them already, and is judgmental (Boyatzis and Jack, 2010).

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

Contact us for your copy or order through our website. Click here to find out more about ILM Qualifications.

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