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Home » Blog » Are you holding SPACE for your Clients?

Has it ever happened to you? Your client is seated across, sharing some of their most intimate details in an attempt to connect and be seen. You nod your head in agreement with them, genuinely attempting to maintain rapport.

You think to yourself, “Yes, I am able to connect with almost anyone!” This is such worthwhile work!”

But then something happens! They begin to withdraw, both physically and emotionally, as they sit in your office. They are disengaging, retreating, and you can feel the energy shift in the room. As they do so, what are your plans to approach?

The coaching room is a delicate ecosystem. We accomplish more than being nice when we are present with another. We enable people to feel respected and heard, and in exchange, the client is free to “just be” in their own uncensored way. To have a coaching presence without such a buffer zone, learn to hold space.

What does it mean to hold space?

What are we really doing when we are “holding space?”

The striking element of this term is that we are not “holding” anything.

When your child returns home from school and eagerly shares details of the day with you, and you listen intently… you are holding space.

When you’re inconsolable about something or everything, and someone looks at you with complete acceptance… that’s holding space.

When you are both aware of what is currently occurring and willing to step into a new reality, you are holding space.

Holding space means being present in the space.

Often we have to distinguish between whether the client is seeking an expert, a confidant, a compassionate ear? Or perhaps they want someone to hold space, to witness their pain. So how can one be mindful of holding space in a coaching presence?

Holding Space in Coaching Presence

Coaching Presence is the coach’s capacity to be fully aware of and spontaneously connect with the client, while utilising an open, flexible, and confident style. In coaching parlance, the coach is said to be “holding space” for the client.

The turning point for clients in applications is not just the coaching models, questioning techniques, and strategies, but also the ‘coaching micro skills’ necessary to align your coaching presence and hold the space.

Coaching presence is about more than maintaining a client-centered focus. Indeed, you will be unable to “hold the space” for your clients if you are too preoccupied with analysing their circumstances, comprehending their context and relationships, attempting to solve their problems, or brainstorming solutions to their problems.

Holding space is similar to being a container that creates emptiness so that clients can fill it with their own resources. It’s about reserving your judgement, solutions, emotional responses, and new ideas so that your clients can explore within the container you’ve created and allow the coaching to occur, by means of  expression, reflection, and transformation . Often, it is also to hold this space for your clients in order to allow their internal “cloudiness” to settle – allowing clarity and intuition to emerge.

In a nutshell, holding space is not about cramming more things into it, but rather about clearing or maintaining spaces—mental, emotional, and transformational–for your clients, allowing them to do what they do best – solve their own problems.

without judgement is what holding space entails. Holding space means understanding that, while we all make mistakes, we are also incredibly strong.

Heather Plett writes, “Holding space means we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without —– judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome.

Holding space is akin to holding the door open for someone to come in and try on a new way of seeing the world. Holding space allows us to express ourselves, open up, and simply be where we are, rather than feeling as though the walls are collapsing around us.

When we hold space, we are expressing complete acceptance of ourselves, others, and the present moment. When we create space for others, we open our hearts, extend unconditional support, and abandon judgement and control.  Let us promote honesty, vulnerability, and holding space as coaches to best enable our clients in becoming their own problem solvers, thus participating in a healing process we are fortunate to watch.