How to end coaching sessions and relationships

How to end an executive coaching session or relationship

Remember the end of the film, Casablanca? Are you as disappointed as me that Isla and Rick don’t fly off into the sunset together? What about the Shawshank Redemption when in the final scene Andy and Red are reunited in freedom on the beach?

When you see “The End”, on screen, it can be disappointing or uplifting. Endings, however, are also important in life and consequently in our coaching. 

Here’s why.

First of all lets think about how coaches might reflect on their own work with clients. 

Coaching supervision has three main elements:

Qualitative – supervision ensures coaches are working safely and competently with their clients and provides an opportunity for feedback and a place for ongoing learning and professional development to ensure ongoing good practice. Are you doing the right thing? 

Developmental – it is time and space to reflect on your coaching with a supervisor. The purpose of reflection is to make greater sense of coaching situations that may be posing some difficulty or dilemmas, where you are stuck and to gain more clarity in going forward. Are you improving as a coach? 

Support – it is an opportunity to receive support – both practical and emotional (to allow for expression of feelings in relation to coaching situations), in the sense of sharing issues and when appropriate, reassurance. Are you taking care of yourself? 

So, how does that link to “endings”? 

In practical terms, it can be a discussion in supervision about how you end individual coaching sessions. Do you have a process that allows time at the end of a session to step back from the topic under discussion for you and your coachee to look at what helped and what hindered? Or maybe your sessions keep going until the time is up and you both just leave? 

Coaches should also ask themselves how they handle the ending of a series of coaching sessions and is there anything different they need to do in the last session to create a sense of closure. Also what can a coach do if the coachee wants to end the coaching before the contracted time? Some coachees will tell you they want to end; others may just not turn up for sessions or keep cancelling sessions for various “legitimate” reasons. (See blog “The No Show Client”) 

Finally what if you as a coach want to end the coaching for whatever reason, how do you do that? 

Supervision will provide a space to explore all these things as there is often no set answer to each individual scenario. A supervisor will also help you explore the more supportive and development aspects.

How have you handled other endings in your life?

How you handle endings in your overall life has an impact on how you handle any type of ending, whether it’s in coaching or supervision. For example, you may have a coachee or supervisee that worries about ending things because they are scared of the other person feeling rejected. The coach or supervisor may be a person who fears rejection. You then have two people locked into a relationship because they have “hot buttons” related to ending things!

Endings are all around us whether it’s past personal relationships that have ended (friendship or romance) or even the unconscious fear of the ultimate ending, when we shuffle off this mortal coil. A good supervisor will ask “How do you normally handle endings in other areas of you life and how might it be reflected in this coaching relationship?” 

This blog is drawing to a close, but I’m not sure how to end it……….maybe that’s telling me something? 

For help in exploring how to end individual coaching sessions or what to do at the end of a coaching relationship, please drop me a line julia@sparkcoachingandtraining.co.uk 

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I enjoyed working with Julia. She had ideas at the start of each session but always went with the flow of the sessions if needs be. I like the way she introduced some useful models, but never felt they were being shoe-horned in. I can use them in my own tool box as a manager. Sharing her own experiences and weaknesses was helpful and appropriate. Ken Livingstone, Director of Movement Sustainability, YMCA England

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