Friday 30 April 2021

Disclosure Remorse

Sometimes, when someone finally finds someone (say a coach) who is prepared to listen to them... and then listen some more... and then listen some more... without interrupting, without sharing parallels from their own experience, without judging, and without offering advice... well, sometimes they pour out their heart and their soul.  That can be particularly true if there are things that they have been unable to talk about or process in any other forum: so the confidentiality of a coaching relationship makes that particularly likely.

I have experienced that, as a coach, on many occasions, and very frequently in the initial, introductory conversation. Once someone has established that it is safe to talk - that confidentiality is guaranteed, and (I assume) having judged that I can be trusted - it can be a huge relief finally to tell someone just what they are thinking and feeling. At times they cry, or shout. And that is all OK.

And then a curious thing sometimes happens.  At the next meeting, they turn up much more guarded, or sometimes even noticeably uncomfortable. That is what I term Disclosure Remorse.

Interestingly, I don't remember reading anything in any of the coaching literature about this; nor has it been discussed on any of the coaching courses, workshops or masterclasses that I have attended.

I began to wonder if it was just me...

And then I discussed it with one of my supervisors. He comes from a therapeutic background, and recognised what I was describing instantly. Indeed, he also told me that he often discusses this with his clients at an early stage, and invites them to think ahead: 'what will you think, do you imagine, when you look back on this conversation, and think how open and honest you have been - how vulnerable you have allowed yourself to be?'  He reassures them that this is both normal, and valuable in the context of the conversations that they will continue to have together.

That was hugely helpful (and exemplifies one of the many benefits of supervision). So now I have a strategy to address this.

And of course, Disclosure Remorse is completely understandable.  We all have boundaries in place, and often for good reason; and when we cross those boundaries (as, I realise, I reflected towards the end of this post when I had done so) we feel vulnerable, and possibly even some sense of shame. Sometimes that may be wholly appropriate, of course; without wishing to over-indulge in self-disclosure, I can recall times as a student, say, and involving alcohol, when I was quite right to be ashamed the next morning of things I may have said...  But clearly in the context of coaching (and even more, therapy) such shame is misplaced.

So I am pleased that my supervisor helped me to develop an appropriate strategy - and I look forward to trying it out, and seeing if it is, in fact, as helpful as I expect.


With thanks to Tom Pumford  Kyle Glenn and  Christian Erfurt for sharing their photography on Unsplash

No comments:

Post a Comment