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The ‘Aha’ Moment in Co-Active Coaching and its Effects on Belief and Behavioural Changes

L Longhurst International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring 2006

Life coaching lacks a clear ontology of its range and depth. What is clear though is that people seek life coaching to make changes in their lives. One kind of change is frequently demonstrated in Gestalt psychology: when looking at a picture, perception dictates what you see as ‘figure’ and what as ‘ground’ and it is not possible to see both simultaneously. Then a ‘switch’ happens and the perception of figure and ground reverses, resulting in an ‘Aha’ moment. In this research I was interested to explore whether the psychological ‘Aha’ moment is fundamental to the transformational change sought by the ‘Co-Active’ model of life coaching (Whitworth et al, 1998). A phenomenological methodology was used that reduced first-person accounts to common themes through a grounded theory analysis. Co-Active coaches gathered data from client participants: diaries captured the lived experience of the Aha moment, and questionnaires and interviews conveyed the lingering effects of the moment on beliefs and behaviour. Each phase – diaries, questionnaires and interviews, informed the next. Findings reveal that the ‘Aha’ moment is experienced somatically and emotionally as well as cognitively, with the striking of many chords across a spectrum of consciousness from body, to mind, to soul, to spirit (Wilber 1989). The more chords it strikes, the greater the resonance and degree of cognitive and behavioural change.

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