Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Why is Every Great Coach a Neuroplastician?

We are pleased to share an article entitled  “Why is Every Great Coach a Neuroplastician?”  written by  Dr. JJ Kennedy, Dr. Jennifer Dougherty, Reut Schwartz-Hebron, Dr. Amin Sanaia, Marlene Gonzalez, Dr. Alice Penn, John Kennedy, Ryan Brown, Kim Goodwin, David Bovis, Deirdre Morrison, Tom A. Dutta, Michelle Atkinson, Lisa Manyoky, Dr. Leanne Elich, Andrea MacKenzie, Elizabeth Gould, and Judy King.

Meet Ken, a career coach who leverages the power of neuroplasticity to transform the lives of clients. By understanding the brain’s adaptability, Ken supports clients through emotional crises, professional dilemmas, and the pursuit of personal and professional growth. Ken is a great coach, but he is not only a coach; he’s also a “Neuroplastician.” In other words, Ken is a navigator of neural pathways, helping clients reshape their thought patterns, emotions, and behaviors by applying specialized neuroplasticity-based tools.
He recognizes that the brain holds the key to profound and lasting change for clients. Driven by a desire to catalyze action that accelerates his clients’ achievement of goals, Ken jumped into the science of neuroplasticity to enhance his coaching expertise. He learned so much from neuroscientist, Norman Doidge who explains neuroplasticity is the capability of the brain to change (Doidge. N.,2016). Ken understands the mechanics of brain change and uses the power of neuroplasticity to help his clients.

His clients break free from limitations, make intentional choices, overcome obstacles, and elegantly rewrite their stories. His powerful blend of coaching and neuroplasticity-based
tools gives his clients ‘the edge.’ Their emotional well-being improves, and their performance does more than peak—it sustains.

When Coaches Say Neuroscience, They Really Mean Neuroplasticity

In the ever-evolving coaching landscape, buzzwords, and jargon, can often feel like a labyrinth of complexity in scientific terminology. One such term that frequently makes its way into coaching is “neuroscience.” It carries an air of scientific credibility. However, when many coaches speak about neuroscience, they really mean neuroplasticity.

As it is well known, neuroscience covers diverse disciplines, like neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neuropsychology. Some coaches have knowledge about one or more of these disciplines, which can enhance their practice. However, the application of tools from neuroplasticity is essential for all coaches to facilitate lasting positive neurological change. Unfortunately, many coaches maybe don’t know what they need to know about the brain. For example, knowing Latin terms like “gyrus cinguli anterior” does not make one a neuro-expert. Funnily enough, there are coaches who lead with, “I’m not a neuroscientist.” A thoughtful reply might be: “OK, but are you a Neuroplastician?”

The Missing Link

The application of neuroplasticity-based tools and practices is the link that many people have missed between neuroscience theory and effective coaching. A coach becomes a Neuroplastician by using neuroplasticity tools that empower clients to make conscious choices and deliberate change. A great reference is Amy Brann who describes a coach as “an expert in facilitating self-directed neuroplasticity” in her book, Neuroscience for Coaches.

The Neuroplastician is a coach helping clients to deal with emotions, repattern thoughts, and adjust social and other behaviors to generate desirable results. Through this modality, change comes from practical mastery and applied neuroplasticity, not just abstract, theoretical knowledge.  The missing link is the difference between being an academic or a pracademic.

A coach who effectively applies neuroplasticity-based tools is not an academic or a neuroscientist.  Instead, they become a Neuroplastician. This is a ‘pracademic’, a practitioner and professional in applied neuroplasticity. As an expert at using pracademic neuroplasticity tools, they directly help clients create the results they want by helping them rewire their neural pathways. 

Are You Aware of Your Unconscious Brain?

As a coach, how do you know what you need to know about the brain? For example, how much control do you have over the decisions you make? Take 10 seconds to consider this. 

Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet (1999) answered this provocative question. His research shows that the brain starts making decisions  0.5 – 0.8 seconds before we’re even aware of it. Yes, that’s right! The brain decides for us before we are conscious of the decisions we make. Libet’s research explains that our decisions emerge from subconscious brain processes rather than deliberate conscious choices. His findings have ignited debates about free will. For coaches, it’s vital to help clients be in control of their brains. But it isn’t complicated! Let’s find out why from Sarah.

 Unveiling Unconscious Decision-Making in Coaching

As a prominent NYC lawyer, Sarah wanted a career change. She joined forces with Alex, a career coach, to help navigate the path ahead. With an insightful understanding of neuroplasticity, Alex shed light on the (pre)conscious decisions in her brain. Sarah found her environment was at the root of her desire for a career shift. She really didn’t want to change careers. She wanted to be near her twin sister in Utah. Using simple neuroplasticity-based tools, Sarah gained control over her choices, paving the way for new decision-making pathways. As a coach your role is to help clients be in control of the choices they make and the paths they take – but first…

What Exactly Is a Neuroplastician?

These coaches know how the brain functions in unconscious decision-making processes. They use tools that guide clients to make conscious choices. Their skills help clients address emotions, reframe thoughts, and adopt new behaviors, which rewire new neural pathways for lasting change.

Are Coaches, Neuroplasticians?

Well, yes and no. When coaches embrace the principles of neuroplasticity and use pracademic tools, they most definitely are. But by only referencing skeletal knowledge of neuroanatomy and using Latin-jargon to gain credibility – well then you guessed it…they’re not. 

Consider the coach who is working with a client to overcome public speaking anxiety. A coach who understands the brain’s role in releasing anxiety-producing stress hormones (not cortisol) will effectively know how to help a client overcome that immobilizing sense of dread of doing a presentation. 

This coach helps clients replace an old defunct program in their brain with new ones that ensure neuroplasticity.

By using tools, such as applied neuroception, Porges (2011), explains that we can rewire redundant neural pathways to override anxiety. This enhances confidence, not only for clients but also for coaches themselves. By developing the client’s ability to present beautifully it also generalizes a feeling of being in control in all spheres of their lives. This is how a coach becomes a Neuroplastician. 

What is ‘’Neuroception’’?

The concept of neuroception was explained by Stephen Porges in his 2011 “Polyvagal Theory,” and is indispensable for a coach’s toolbox. Neuroception allows for a greater understanding of clients’ unconscious emotional cues. Understanding neuroception ensures the coach helps their clients sustain emotional wellbeing. 

Applying Neuroplasticity for Effective Coaching

Leveraging neuroplasticity in coaching sculpts a rich neural landscape for lasting positive change. Neuroplasticity-based tools, such as neuroception, create brain shifts that reduce emotional turmoil and lead to adaptive behaviors. This leads to improved decision-making control. In a neuroscience-lingo-saturated coaching marketplace, Neuroplasticians are defined by their ability to merge theory and practice. Neuroplasticians are truly conductors of transformative growth for their clients. They rely on academics to ensure their practical tools in applied neuroplasticity are robust.  

Neuroplasticians are not neuroscientists – but sit on their shoulders, crafting practical tools that are borne from researchers. 

Have you heard about Andrew Huberman? He’s a Stanford professor researching neuronal activity and promoting regeneration. On YouTube, he shows how regeneration in the brain works and explains the role of acetylcholine, epinephrine, and dopamine as ‘’3 arrows’’ of motivating goal achievement. The Neuroplastician uses research like his to ensure clients have practical tools based on published neuroscience. But Neuroplasticians are ‘grandchildren’ of Professor Michael Merzenich, the foremost academic in neuroplasticity. He was the initial researcher to show that the brain retains its ability to change in adulthood. In conversation with him, we discussed and agreed on how important his work was for the coach to be a Neuroplastician. Please come over to the Institute of Organizational Neuroscience and watch the discussion we had with him and a group of Neuroplasticians.

So, the next time you hear coaches mention neuroscience, remember that what they are hopefully referring to is the remarkable ability of the brain to change itself. Neuroplasticity is this extraordinary ability at the core of the transformative power of all coaching. By understanding and embracing neuroplasticity, any coach becomes the catalyst for profound change, helping clients maintain control of their own brain-rewiring journey. Every coach is a Neuroplastician! And we really believe that when a coach knows how to help clients to use tools that apply neuroplasticity, they are in fact a Neuroplastician. But what makes a great coach?

Learn more by visiting npcHub here

Let’s continue the conversation by connecting with your colleagues on our Facebook page