The Client-Therapist Relationship

Tag: Equestrian mindset coaching

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that I get to meet so many interesting people. I am in the privileged position of enabling them to confide in me about what’s going on in their lives and their riding, how these things are affecting them and giving them an opportunity to be totally honest with themselves about their goals, their doubts and their fears.

A first session with a new client is all about getting to know each other, allowing the client to open up and to tell their “story”. Through a multitude of questions I will aim to gain and understanding of what’s going on and how that is affecting the client and their whole life, with particular reference to their riding. Some clients have many questions they wish to ask me and others have fewer but this initial session gives them an opportunity to ask me anything they wish.

The aim of this is that we establish what is known as a “rapport”. This means that we build a connection based on trust and mutual respect within a safe and professional relationship. Sometimes this connection happens almost instantly – after all we already have a lot in common in our mutual interest in horses and equestrian sport. Other times the relationship takes a little longer to establish and as the therapist I have to use all of my skills to allow the client to begin to feel comfortable and to trust me.

Usually, I find that the people who consult me already have some idea of who I am and what to expect because they have followed my work on social media and/or heard about my work by word of mouth. This, of course, makes it easier to build the rapport we need to be able to work together towards a successful outcome for the client.

I am fortunate that my background in working as a nurse and midwife in the NHS gave me masses of experience in taking a history and helping people to feel comfortable and to trust me.

Whilst the relationship I have with my clients is completely professional, it is also friendly and I will share some aspects of my own “story” as and where this is appropriate. I believe that it’s useful and important for me to use some examples from my own life, and riding, to explain an idea or to show empathy towards the client’s situation.

Of course, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. The horse world is pretty small and, especially in these days of social media, we will frequently have mutual friends and acquaintances. It is vital that the client feels safe to disclose anything they wish and to be confident that it will go no further. I have a rule of thumb which is that if I bump into a client publicly, and they approach me openly, then I will be more than happy to chat to them. However, I won’t approach them directly as I would never want to put them in a situation of having to explain how they know me if the don’t wish to.

Inevitably some clients go on to become friends, or friendly acquaintances, and this is lovely. It means that I get to hear how things are going for them after we have finished working together directly and I get to see photos on social media of their horses and the exciting adventures they have together.

I think the best way to sum up my approach to the client-therapist relationship is that it is one of FRIENDLY PROFESSIONALISM and it certainly brings me great joy.

Rapport is developed whether we meet in person……


Tag: Equestrian mindset coaching

One of the techniques which I use a lot in my work with clients, and which I teach clients to use for themselves, is visualisation. And one of the many uses of this skill is confidence boosting which has the result of boosting a client’s resilience. Does this sound good?

In hypnosis, or in general conversation, I will ask a client to re-live a super positive past experience, one where they have exhibited mental strength and problem solving abilities, and to really immerse themselves, using all of their senses, in that strong memory. Then, drawing all of that strength and self belief from the past experience into themselves, I ask them to imagine a future situation (which they might perhaps find challenging) and to note how much easier it is to mentally rehearse that future experience with all of their powerful positivity. With practice, this is a hugely useful tool for riders and can be applied to any area of life such as other sports, work or any activity.

I was recently listening to the BBC Sounds podcast All in the Mind and one of the things it was looking at was a research project from the University of Zurich looking at this very thing. The project shows that “Reflecting on Your Own Capabilities Boosts Resilience and looks at how developing a belief that that we have some power and control over a situation helps us to grow in what they term “Self Efficacy”.

So if we learn to recall times when we have shown this skill of self efficacy we learn to be able to tackle new challenging situations more effectively because we truly understand that we can do this. “A self-efficacious person is convinced that they can draw on their own powers to overcome difficult and challenging situations. It doesn’t matter whether this is actually the case, as Kleim explains: “Without believing in your own capabilities, you wouldn’t take on any challenges in the first place.” Self-efficacious people have stronger problem-solving abilities and a higher level of persistence. They also show changes in brain activation in regions linked to emotional regulation.”

How about giving this a go for yourself?

Find somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed for a short while (phone off!)

Allow your mind to take you back to a super positive past experience (it doesn’t have to be a riding memory but that would be extra helpful ). It’s important that this memory is one where you have solved problems and overcome challenges in a positive way, rather than just any old happy memory. Allow that memory to grow and strengthen – where were you? Who were you with? What were you wearing? What was the weather like? What can you hear? Perhaps even what can you smell? What personal strengths did you draw on?

Allow the pleasure of that positive past experience, and the self belief associated with it, to grow and develop and draw it into your very being.

Then look forward to your new situation and see how you can handle it so much more easily because you’re using all of that power and self belief from the past. Perhaps start by imagining a mildly challenging situation and then once you’re familiar with the technique you can use it any time you need it.

The University of Zurich study showed that “Our study shows that recalling self-efficacious autobiographical events can be used as a tool both in everyday life and in clinical settings to boost personal resilience,” 

If you’d like some help and support to learn how to use this and apply it to your own life and riding, so that you too can become more resilient, then just drop me a DM.

Recalling a time when you have used personal strengths to overcome challenges is very powerful.


Tag: Equestrian mindset coaching

Developing the resilience to handle challenges, overcome disappointments and learn from both good and bad experiences will help all riders fulfil their goals and generally enjoy their riding more. Being resilient gives us the strength needed to be able to move forwards and not be defined by any setbacks. Resilience is empowering and helps us to grown in self belief.

Working on the seven “C’s” of resilience will help you to strengthen what you already have and what you have already learned from all the experiences which have brought to this point in your life.

COMPETENCE
The belief that you can and will handle a situation effectively. That you have the skills and experience necessary to do what you are asking yourself to do. Of course skills can always be improved and refined and this is why most riders who wish to progress in the sport continue to have coaching. Competence can also apply to mindset skills.

CONFIDENCE
Having confidence comes from that deep belief in your own abilities and is closely aligned with competence. Confidence isn’t a fixed attribute and there will be times when it’s stronger than others but developing an overall belief in yourself will help you to grow in confidence and to enjoy yourself more.

CONNECTION
Developing close ties with family, friends, coaches, equestrian professionals and “your team” will help you to develop a real sense of community and support. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you and have your best interests at heart helps you to have that support system in place which is so important for resilience.

CHARACTER
We are all different and learning to accept that is part of maturing as a person. Being true to your own values and set of moral principles is important for all of us, as is demonstrating a caring attitude towards others. I believe that we all have a responsibility to show kindness and care towards others and that this helps us to feel better about ourselves which, of course, is part of being resilient.

CONTRIBUTION
We all have a contribution to make in life, great or small. We are all important and have a role to play in whatever form that takes.

COPING
Learning to cope effectively with stress helps you to become better able to cope with life’s challenges. Learning to be able to tolerate the temporary discomfort of stressful situations will help us all to perform at our best, whatever “performance” means to each of us.

CONTROL
Realising that we have control over our decisions and taking full responsibility for them helps us to grow and develop as riders and as human beings. We can control what we learn from experiences and take the responsibility to apply that learning in the future. This builds and strengthens resilience.

WHICH “C” IS YOUR STRONGEST AND WHICH NEEDS SOME ATTENTION?

Stand tall and proud and you will bloom


Tag: Equestrian mindset coaching

I often hear people bemoaning the fact that the people they come in contact with don’t communicate very well. Either they don’t listen, fail to say what they mean, just don’t tell you stuff or talk “at” you and hog the conversation! This can be very frustrating and lead to misunderstandings and disagreements.

I was reminded the other day about a talk I gave at a local business, many years ago, on communication and listening and after a trawl through some old files on my laptop I found that I still had the information. So I thought I’d share it….



So what is communication?

Communication is the exchange of thoughts, messages and information by speech, signals, writing and behaviour . In all communication there is a “transmitter” and a “receiver”.

Effective communication promotes self-confidence, intelligence and enhances relationships both personal and in social and work situations.

As a transmitter of communication it is your role to ensure that your message is given in a way which can be understood by the expected receiver and as the receiver it is your job to understand the meaning of the message


Non-Verbal Communication

Non -verbal communication is of equal importance to the words which are spoken. It regulates conversation, communicates emotions, modifies verbal messages, gives insights and can give clues to meanings.
NB remember that these things can vary between cultures.


.

In conversation there should be a dialogue which includes:

  • Turn Taking. Generally “You talk, then I talk” will be effective. In conversation monologues aren’t helpful.
  • Connecting. What each person says should in some way be connected to what the other person has said.
  • Mutual Influencing. Each person in a dialogue should be open to being influenced by what the other person has said, it’s best to be open-minded.
  • Co-creating Outcomes. Good dialogue leads to outcomes which benefit both parties.




    Therefore:
  • Say what you think, not what you think others want you to say.
  • Express your views clearly, positively and in a non-threatening manner.
  • Express you views in language which can be understood.
  • Listen actively.
  • If in doubt check the meaning of what you are hearing rather than assuming you understand what was said.
  • Give full attention (put down your phone during conversation!).
  • Give the speaker the respect of hearing what they want you to hear.
  • It is equally important to give respect as to receive it.





    Non-verbal communication includes:
  • Bodily behaviour – posture, movement, gestures
  • Eye behaviour – contact, staring, avoidance
  • Facial expressions – smiles, frowns, raised eyebrows
  • Physiological responses – blushing, breathing rate, pupil dilation
  • Physical characteristics – height, weight, fitness
  • Space – how close a person chooses to be during conversation
  • General appearance – grooming, dress.


    To check your skills at communication ask yourself the following questions.
  • What are my attitudes towards the other person?
  • How would I rate the quality of my “presence” in the dialogue?
  • What attitudes am I expressing in my verbal behaviour?
  • What attitudes am I expressing in my non-verbal behaviour?
  • Do the above two points agree?
  • Does the other person find my communication effective? If necessary, how can I be more effective?
  • In what ways am i distracted from being fully engaged in the conversation? How might I handle any distractions and emotional responses?
  • Am I truly hearing what is being said? How do I know?
  • Am I allowing my own interpretations of what is being said to distract me from the true meaning?
  • How can I learn from this dialogue so that I can improve future communications?




We won’t get it right all of the time but by learning to be more present, more aware of ourselves, more emotionally intelligent and more open then we can all improve our communication skills.

Next time, I’ll look at developing listening skills in more detail so keep your eyes open for that post.




Tag: Equestrian mindset coaching

I’ve been thinking about giving and receiving praise recently so decided to write down a few thoughts about this subject.

In today’s internet society everything is constantly rated and reviewed and there are many rating sites we can look at before making a holiday choice or picking a restaurant, for example.  The same goes for choosing a service or when we are looking for somebody to help us with an aspect of our lives where we naturally tend to choose the one who has received most praise.

Here at Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland I rarely ask for or publish client testimonials due to the importance of confidentiality. An unnamed testimonial saying ‘Show Jumper from Scotland says Jane is wonderful’ is unverifiable and meaningless and I want my clients to feel that it is entirely their choice whether or not they share that they have consulted me for help with confidence or mindset.

However, on a recent facebook post some riders were kind enough to make some very positive comments about how I had been able to help them and by choosing to say this publicly they were obviously happy to say that they had used my services.  Other riders prefer to keep quiet about needing help with confidence issues and choose not to share this and I am more than happy for them to do that.

I, like most people, love to receive praise and get a great boost when somebody gives me positive feedback.  I also enjoy giving praise to others for example, I like to praise my clients for the hard work and commitment they show towards overcoming the nervousness which interferes with their enjoyment of riding or for the hours of determined practice they put in before a competition.

Whilst enjoying receiving and giving praise what really gives me the most satisfaction is when I can praise myself.  When I can feel inside that I have done a good job.  When I can tell, by their body language, that audience members at a talk are listening and understanding what I say.  When the look on a client’s face changes from one of tension and worry to a big and genuine smile.  When I can look at my animals and know that I have done a good job with them and given them a good life.  When I can go to bed at night feeling that I have acheived something worthwhile during the day.

All these feelings come from within and I believe that is where our enjoyment of life truly comes from.  We should be wary of needing others to constantly praise us and work towards true self acceptance.

As always, thanks for reading this and any comments are very welcome.

Whether your session is face:face or online I want you to feel comfortable that I am there just for you.