The Structured Discernment Process

The Structured Discernment Process

The Structured Discernment Process by Patricia Hughes

Many people seek out a coach because they are facing an important decision, such as a new job opportunity or a new chapter in their career or life, and want help thinking it through. Coaches can help clients get unstuck and reach resolution by using questions that build understanding over time. This process can be called structured discernment. Through the process, clients gain awareness about themselves, their desires and goals, the options available and the choice most likely to meet their goals.

There are five steps described in the structured discernment process, and each includes questions designed to shed light on the client’s situation.The Structured Discernment Process

  1. Assess Current Reality – What does the client want to discern? What is currently happening? What are the consequences of deciding or not deciding?
  2. Assess Strengths – How does the client make decisions? What core strengths and talents does the client have? What skills does the client want to improve?
  3. Create a Bucket List – What dreams, goals, and passions which, if reached, would contribute to a successful and happy career and life?
  4. Engage in Scenario Planning – What are the possible outcomes? What are the conditions for making a decision?
  5. Commit and Communicate – What is the client saying yes to? What stories need to be changed in order to embrace the new choice? What needs to be let go? Who needs to know?

Discernment in coaching provides a rigorous process for the coach to help a client evaluate an opportunity and feel confident in their decision. With discernment, a client feels prepared for the next step in their life or career.

Learn more in my chapter for Coaching Perspective IV.

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