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Review: Communication Breakthrough Family Feuding Some Say It’s Time To Call In The Coach

Joan Anderson, “Communication Breakthrough: Family feuding? Some say it’s time to call in the Coach,” The Boston Globe, 13Mar’10, G12-13.


Family conversations and relationships don’t always run smoothly. The old song, “You always hurt the one you love…” lays out all too frequently in family systems. Looking for help? Somewhere between family dysfunction, family therapy and super-nanny is family coaching.

The main issue driving families to coaches… is communication-or lack of it. Mom and Dad don’t see eye-to-eye on parenting style. The kids feel marginalized or misunderstood. The family’s talk is toxic-filled with sarcasm and blame, stuck in old patterns and entrenched roles. Or there is no talking.

Ilene Sharpe is a middle-school health teacher in Natick, MA. Sometime last spring she became concerned about her relationship with a grown child. “It wasn’t a crisis or a conflict-it was more a dull ache.” Instead of letting this go on, or going into family counseling, they agreed to take this to a family coach. So impressed was Ilene with the results, she decided to go into family coaching herself.

I’m a firm believer in therapy, but coaching is very different. Instead of talking and thinking and trying to understand the past, you start from where you are and move forward. It’s very active and hands-on, and for us it created a deeper trust.

Jim Wolfson has extended his personal-life coaching into the new and expanding field of family coaching.

Helping people communicate clearly and skillfully, rather than in hurtful ways, is so valuable… (“He speaks of families as singular entities whose collective identity can be strengthened through coaching.”)

In corporations and organizations there’s the notion of a ‘soul of a company’, a group energy that doesn’t belong to any one particular person, and I teach families how to access that.

Nancy Freth found coaching to work so effectively in her family, she became a family coach herself.

If we can give parents and children more tools, if we plant those seeds with families, authentic conversations would happen. We’re trying to build capacity and resilience for managing stressful situations. If they can do it when they’re not in the heat of the moment, they’ll be able to click in when they are in the thick of it.

President of the International Coach Federation, Giovanna D’Alessio, sees family coaching as a natural expansion of personal coaching, a discipline that has been around for a couple of decades.

Coaching is a proven tool for a person in transition or experiencing change, and it’s not a surprise that they would want to include family members, to understand and strengthen dynamics.

Family coaching can work in situations from communication crisis to relationships wanting to be enriched, between two family members or in the family as a whole.

Bob Proctor ( says:

The power of personal coaching lies in the fact that it provides the family with the most critical ingredient for extraordinary, consistent success: ongoing support, detailed action places, constructive feedback, and most importantly, personal accountability.

In essence, a coach is the catalyst that helps an individual to unstoppable personal and family achievement. In my opinion, there is no greater reward!

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. Have you seen any need for objective suggestions and help in your own, or some other, family?

2. How many families have dinner together several times a week? How many manage to carry on productive conversations during this meal-time?

3. In how many families, do you suppose are, do not only toxic conversations and dead-end discussions occur, but a pattern or trend of family feuding develop?

4. How deadlocked do such family members feel? Do you know the feeling of “impossibility of resolution” that can lay hold of you?


1. The various “super-nanny TV shows” take us into homes with seemingly impossible discipline problems.  Kids totally unmanageable-at least that’s how it looks to most of us, and feels to the parents involved. But with some simple principles strongly established and reinforced, often a sudden calm can take the place of domestic storms.

2. It’s not too difficult for family members, of almost all ages, to buy into a new, positive perspective, with some simple tools and guidelines, that makes life more enjoyable and growth more attainable.

3. Schools, community organizations and churches should encourage such aids.

Dean Borgman
© 2018 CYS



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