Coaching has been described as "therapy for mentally healthy people" but a Coaching session is not at all like psychotherapy. Unlike “marriage counseling” or “couple’s therapy” our methods work to improve relationship because we form an alliance with the client and respect the client as the expert and master of his life. As your Coach I provide focus, awareness, clarity, challenge perspectives, set benchmarks, identify challenges, highlight paths, co-create a plan, and encourage forward action. Just like playing a sport, to improve your life and your relationships you will almost always make better progress if you hire a coach rather than trying to go it alone.
Coaching often takes place over the phone and email. We work with Clients, not "patients" and we work as co-equal partners. I think of Coaching as a "Vulcan Mind Meld" where we literally combine two minds into the singular task of designing, articulating, and plotting your dreams and possibilities. I bring a broad ranging education, training to identify unconscious motives, and an exceptional ability to ask questions and challenge you about those objectives. You bring the expertise in your own life and remain the one and only expert in the dreams and possibilities. The purpose of Coaching is to figure out a better future for you and then to implement it.
If you are a fan of Star Trek like me then you already know about the Vulcan Mind Meld. The concept was used many times in many different ways over the 2 dozen or so movies and at least 7 TV Series.
First introduced in The Original Series all the way back in 1967, the Mind Meld was used in the episode “Dagger of the Mind.” This was a particularly dark episode about a psychiatrist in a mental hospital using a mind control machine to torture his patients. The evil doctor was holding Captain Kirk captive in the hospital and a deranged mental patient on the Enterprise who had been in the mental ward knew what was going on. Unfortunately, the man was so insane or traumatized and babbling so hysterically he could not speak or communicate. So, Mr. Spock used a “Vulcan Mind Meld” to telepathically pluck out what was going on from the deranged man’s mind. Of course, Spock beamed to the rescue just as the truly deranged mad doctor was subjecting Captain Kirk to the evil machine.
According to the fan geek site Memory Alpha which stores all Star Trek lore:
The Vulcan mind meld or mind probe is a telepathic link between two individuals that allows an intimate exchange of thoughts where, in essence, the participants become one mind, sharing their consciousness in a gestalt.
This “combined” entity could even become an entirely separate person seamlessly joining two person’s thoughts and personalities into a single consciousness. More commonly each participant in a “Mind Meld” retained their separate personalities and thoughts, and could break the meld at will, maintaining full control but able to share in the strengths and insights of the other person. For example, Married Vulcan couples apparently maintain a permanent mind meld with their partner, continually sharing thoughts and feelings even at a distance, essentially for life. Not my first choice as a model for marriage but it seems to work for Vulcans.
This gestalt was a new “whole” that combined to create something different and unique and that could analyze problems and issues more effectively and differently than two individuals attacking the same problem. At the same time, the individual entities could contribute their own perspective, share what they chose, and draw on the others experience, knowledge, emotional support, and control.
Usually a Meld was “weak” and did not produce an entirely new metaphysical entity; but, there was still considerable utility and practical applications. The Meld was used several times when one participant needed to “shore up” a particular mental faculty.
In one two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation which was all the rage in the 1990’s, Captain Jean Luc Picard “Melded” with the venerable Ambassador Sarek (Spock’s father played by the same Star Trek: The Original Series actor in the 1960’s) who was old and dying essentially suffering from advanced senility Vulcan style with no ability to control his emotions. Melding with the stone cold stoic Captain Picard gave Sarek just enough temporary emotional control to complete his final diplomatic mission and stop a war. In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager the Vulcan Tuvok used a Meld along with Vulcan meditation techniques to “treat” a murderer by increasing his mental control and curbing his violent tendencies and murderous thoughts.
Melds could also be used for evil purposes and even to manipulate others, often resulting in dramatic and plot hinging effects. The less experienced partner in a Meld could often be easily manipulated by the Initiator of the Melds who could insert thoughts and emotions into unwilling participants.
In one early example, Spock convinced a guard through a wall that the prisoners were escaping and he had to open the door to check. In several episodes involuntary Melds were forced on struggling patients by rogue Vulcans (or their evil alter egos) who used the Meld to essentially take over a weaker mind, telepathically dominate them, and force them to take actions they did not want to take.
Because of this, Melding was considered to be a very dangerous activity and a “forced” Meld was considered akin to rape. “The Doctor” in Star Trek: Voyager” warns: “Vulcan Mind Melds: Utter foolishness. Anybody with an ounce of sense wouldn’t share his brain with someone else.” Dr. McCoy warned about Mind Melds several times in his inimitable way, asking whether Spock’s green blood was actually getting to his thick-headed Vulcan brain if he would consider doing something so dangerous as initiating a Mind Meld.
Several episodes showed the consequences of an improper Meld which could cause permanent psychological damage. In all cases Melding was considered an intensely personal, emotionally intimate, and a psychologically vulnerable practice that required careful training and a very high level of prudence before it was attempted. It required the more experienced person initiating the Meld to be able to absorb the others thoughts and feelings without losing his own identity but also to avoid the tendency to overwhelm the other mind.
Coaching is the Human attempt at accomplishing a Vulcan Mind Meld. Like the Mind Meld, Coaches (who “initiate” the Meld) are carefully trained to avoid overpowering the less experienced person and at the same time maintain their own individuality and objectivity but with a continuing focus on the Client. A Coach remains conscious of, and actively avoids the extreme danger of being drawn into the other person’s maelstrom of thoughts and emotions but at the same time retains the ability to assume formlessness and permit that 3rd entity, gestalt, to form and to grow and to let the client be the one to create it, not the Coach.
We may not be a telepathic species, but Humans have a unique ability to combine our brains into achieving a common goal. We even have the ability to synchronize our brain waves and our physiology to such an extent it is possible, and even common, to finish each other’s sentences. We are able to use verbal and non-verbal communication to discover, explore, and clarify our goals and objectives. Coaching strategies employ our combined brain power and focus it towards identifying specific problems and barriers to a better life in ways which neither Coach or Client could possibly conceive of alone or even by working together as a traditional “team.”
Coaches take the best attributes of the Vulcan Mind Meld and get rid of the dangerous, invasive, and unseemly aspects of the practice. We carefully and professionally witness the creation of that 3rd entity gestalt known as the Coaching Partnership, whose sole purpose is to improve the Client and to move his or her life forward in a positive direction.