“I want more people to find swift and
effective help to increase their well-being
and handle challenges - exactly the kind
of support I’ve benefited from on several
occasions in my life."
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An organizational psychologist, lawyer and mediator, originally from Germany, I have been living and working in Palo Alto, California for 16 years. In the heart of Silicon Valley, I founded the Palo Alto Institute for Systemic Coaching in 2011. The institute is the “home” of three Solution-Focused Brief Coaching approaches, two of which I developed myself.
My true passion is helping clients from different walks of life to deal successfully with stress, blocks, and self-sabotage and to increase their overall wellbeing in a single or very few coaching sessions – exactly the kind of efficient support I would want for myself in a similar situation.
I’m convinced that life is way too short to do the same things over and over again, hoping they turn out differently this time.
Therefore I take great pride in helping executives, artists and athletes to achieve peak performance by using their mind to work in their best interest.
My unique, Brief Brain-Based approaches form the basis of coaching for top performers.
In my experience, quantity or a certain number of coaching sessions, does not necessarily equal quality.
Very often, less is more.
THE GAP BETWEEN WHAT COACHING TYPICALLY OFFERS AND WHAT PEOPLE REALLY NEED
A conversation with Sylvia Kurpanek, Founder of the Brief Coaching method PALO ALTO COACHING.
Sylvia, how did you get into coaching and what prompted you to go beyond traditional coaching approaches?
I was introduced to coaching in 2005 as part of my master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and my degree in Mediation (that I, like many other lawyers, had decided to add to my repertoire).
What I found interesting right from the start was that classical coaching is mainly designed to help clients – often high performers – develop leadership and/or other skills, fulfill their potential or achieve transformational change.
Classic coaching approaches therefore focus on long-term goals and require an ongoing engagement of six to twelve months.
I couldn’t help but wonder: Are people really willing to invest that much time until they see results, particularly when the coaching is on their own dime?
With my thinking shaped by my life and work in Silicon Valley, where people enjoy abundance but are severely pressed for time, two additional questions presented themselves:
- Shouldn’t coaching be able to provide faster results?
- And aren’t there totally different contexts in which this type of support can really be useful?
Simply put: While these traditional coaching approaches definitely serve very important purposes and have already helped many accomplish their goals, in my view, they clearly don’t cover all areas in which people want and need support.
That got me to thinking. How can we, as coaches, better support clients by providing sustainable results through 1) shorter engagements, and in 2) additional areas of application – thus making coaching a form of support feasible for even more people.