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It's not therapy
ABE SELIG
03/20/2008
There's nothing broken and nothing to be fixed, says life coach Galit Lief-Grunblat.
Not everyone takes stock in life coaching, yet. But Galit Lief-Grunblat believes that conception will soon change. "At the moment, whoever wants to be a coach can just write on a business card, 'I'm a coach,'" says the certified life coach and assistant of the Coaches Training International (CTI) workshops in Jerusalem. Of the nearly 30 coaching schools in Israel, CTI is the only one that is internationally accredited, she says. It's no surprise then, that just about anyone can assume the professional title. "That's why it's important to have schools like CTI," says Lief-Grunblat, 40. "There you're supervised, you go through exams." Still, the profession's definition is often a blurred one. "It's not therapy," Galit says. "There's nothing broken and nothing to be fixed. It's not consulting either. He [the client] is the expert on his life." Coaching under the CTI model is identified as "Co-Active Coaching." "It's a lot like dancing," says Galit. "It takes two people, and while one person needs to lead, there's a flow to it that keeps it moving." The coach faces the coachee, and while maintaining eye-contact, asks him or her the introductory question, "What do you want to talk about?" From there, the coach facilitates the coachee's desired conversational direction. If someone wants to talk about work, then so be it; if it's something more personal, that's fine too. It's about allowing the coachees to let out what is already inside them, because in the end, discovering that they have the power to solve their problems or dissatisfactions is empowering in itself. The underlying assumption in coaching, which differs slightly from therapeutic methods, is that the person coming to be coached is creative, resourceful and complete, and is capable of confronting his or her challenges. Lief-Grunblat hopes that in time, the benefits of life coaching will speak for themselves, and the profession will gain recognition based on its own merits. "Because coaching is such a powerful tool, and listening is so important, if we got more people involved we could create a much better society and community," she says. "Our No. 1 rule is that nobody gets to be wrong - just imagine if that's where we came from." Lief-Grunblat's affinity for helping people solve problems began much earlier in her life. As an officer in the army, she made house calls to Beduin and Druse villages, addressing the needs of those citizens whose children were enlisted in the IDF. "Their families would often come to us with some sort of request," she says. "Financial problems, an aid request from the army, or leave-time so their children could come home for the annual olive harvest. "I've always been open-minded," she adds. "And this exposed me to diversity and different cultures." After completing her army service, Lief-Grunblat pursued a BA and MA in English literature. In between the two degrees, she worked as a parliamentary aide in the Knesset. "But politics wasn't for me," she says. Deciding that helping people was her goal, she went to work at the Mandel Leadership Institute, a foundation that helps people hone their leadership skills and apply them in practical endeavors. After working there for nine years, she went to study at the CTI. The process of becoming a coach through the CTI program is a rigorous one, she says. Candidates undertake a class load not unlike that of a university, Lief-Grunblat, who lives in Jerusalem, enrolled in the CTI program in Shefayim, just north of Herzliya, and attended class Thursday through Saturday over a six-month period. "It was a real stretch for me to go there," she says. "I have two children and it was hard to leave them. But I was passionate about it and my husband was very supportive." After completing the course's five workshops, she started thinking about bringing CTI to Jerusalem. "I decided that people here are missing out," she says. "So I decided to bring it to Jerusalem and to do it on weekdays, and to open it up for the shomer Shabbat [Shabbat observant] crowd." At her request, CTI agreed to begin workshops in Jerusalem, and the first course opened at the end of January, with Lief-Grunblat working on logistics. "I'm dealing with advertising and finding the venues - it's lots of fun," she says. But she stresses that she's not the sole provider. Lief-Grunblat hosts the introductory workshops with a CTI employee, a sort of master coach, who presides over the evening. The CTI introductory session is led as a workshop to give people a hands-on feel for the coaching method. "We teach them some skills and let them try it out," she says . "It's [life coaching] for people who care about others," she says. "Therapists, educators, people who work in human resources. It's actually good for anyone because you develop your listening skills. We do look for people who want to become coaches, but also people who want to integrate it into their own practices as well." Outside the workshops, Lief-Grunblat runs a private practice. "Interestingly, maybe because of my background in literature and writing, I've worked with quite a few people from the academic world who want to work on their writing, people who are stuck in writing, or who want to publish," she says. "That's one area we work on together in order for them to live the most fulfilling lives they can." "So many times we have these limiting, constricting voices that tell us 'You're not good enough, you can't do it,'" Lief-Grunblat continues, "and here they can set their sights much higher." She also works with people who in their late 30s and early 40s have decided to switch careers or open their own business. "In general, it's [clients] people who have a good life and want to make it even better," she says. At the end of the day, what fulfills Lief-Grunblat is helping others fulfill their lives. "It gives me a sense of elation," she says. "I'm living something that I love. I wake up with a smile in the morning, and that's what I want others to have. I want them to have what I'm feeling. I want to touch the lives of as many people as I can."
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