Malgorzata Marczewska designed Art Coaching course for 14 animatours and trainers from Doc Next Network partner the Association of Creative Initiatives “ę” (Poland). As a network, Doc Next Network is developing a methodology for empowering young media-makers as they capture their own realities. This is a conversation with Małgorzata Marczewska. By Dorota Borodaj.
A method of working with people and releasing or activating the maximum of their personal, professional or creative potential (needed for the execution of their goals).
In Poland it is probably confused with psychotherapy?
Most companies start defining coaching with explicit information about what coaching is not. It is not therapy, counselling or consulting, it is neither mentoring nor treatment. However its tools are known and used e.g. in therapy. Most therapists work with the present time and the past. Therapy is supposed to fix certain dysfunctions. It looks for their sources in the patient’s past. Coaching is always directed to the future. It serves for defining goals to be met in the future. A coach supports his/her client in unleashing potential that will help realise those goals. The difference can be seen in the language – not a patient, a client. This imposes partnership and causative relations with the coach.
You have been working in this profession for a dozen years. Yet I have the impression that it is only in the last several years that we hear more about coaching in Poland.
The idea of coaching was born in sport in the 70s, in the USA. It was gradually spread across other spheres of life. Business became a natural receiver very quickly. Later, coaching started to cover other professional, personal, and, finally, artistic cases. This tool reached Poland relatively late, that is when it has already been a common and natural technique of working with people in the United States. Students work with coaches practically in every art school in the States. There are more than 50 kinds of coaching registered in Great Britain. In Poland we still tend to address coaching as such.
What is art-coaching then?
Coaching intensifies diversity and pulls out the potential hidden in a given person. That is the reason for its use in fields that need variety the most, e.g. in the arts. Art-coaching is a phenomenon that does exist in Poland. Only we rarely call it that way. When I tell about coaching I often hear that my interlocutors use the same tools and methods in practice, but they define them differently. Many people working with artists do present an attitude that is key to coachwork – they treat them with respect and openness, they focus on releasing their creativity.
When it comes to artists, creators, this work is conducted on an exceptionally sensitive organism. On the one hand artist are assigned with certain hysteria, on the other – it is often forgotten that they work on their own emotions and, at the same time, function on a tough art market.
Art is always connected with internal, spiritual work, with experiencing. We can interpret this sensitivity as hysteria but it is just a specific way of experiencing life, nothing else. People very sensitive to beauty, emotions and events, feel an urge to stream these feelings through art. On the other hand – they are not taught how to protect this sensitivity, how to influence it without destroying it. This is topped with the fear of “selling oneself”, the fear that professionalisation can be somehow related to commercialisation of ones actions. Many creators declare their contempt for all things connected with marketing in one line with declaring their artistic freedom. Whereas selling can be understood as presenting oneself, presenting something that one considers valuable. I see this as a communication process between people, as presenting things that we want to share with others. The question is, do I want to learn to show it in a way that will be comprehendible to people, so that it would influence them. Next question: do I want to make a living of my creativity. Most artists strongly want to show their art, despite all doubts. This creates an inner conflict – I want the world to hear about me but I am afraid, I don’t want to conform, to be priced. So sometimes I would do nothing that could help others hear about me.
What is the basis of the coach-client relationship?
There are two key fields in coaching. The first one is the coach’s attitude. The coach has to be able to work with him/herself, his/her attitude, with a certain ability to manage his/her inner states. Putting it more clearly – the coach cannot impose his/her feelings and opinions on the clients. This requires strong emotional maturity and an inner balance. The coach does not evaluate or give advice. The coach cannot judge. His/her most basic task is something we call cautious presence. At the same time the coach has another field at hand – a multitude of techniques used for releasing one’s potential. Namely: questions, exercises and homework. All this is conducted in a certain period. Usually the minimum length of cooperation is 6 months. The coach and client meet once a month but the client’s work continues all the time in between the meetings. The first meeting is the time when a contract is accepted. The coach presents a schedule of the whole process. Then both sides have to agree that they want to work together. Though the preliminary rules may sound very soft, coaching is in fact a very accurate activity, defined in time. Its effects have to be measurable and verifiable in a way. The central meaning is again on the client’s side. It is the client, not the coach, who defines what should be done and when. In the future, these assumptions will let the client know that his/her goals have been completed.
What happens during the monthly meetings?
The aim of work is changing dreams into goals. The trick is to plan them in time and to set clear tasks. Their completion will let us know, that a goal had been met. Example: I am a young photographer, a beginner. I want to go professional. My dream is my own exhibition. I am changing this dream into a goal and I set milestones needed to achieve it. The role of the coach is to support this process, to help the client define and extract his/her inner resources, which will make the realisation of the goal possible.
The coach helps define what way of thinking limits the client and what can let him achieve his/her goals. The coach asks questions. The coach ignites the client’s whole knowledge about him/herself that enables him/her to do the best thing in the best possible way. The coach takes care of inner emotions, blockades but does not advise specific actions. He/she picks tasks and exercises with consideration of blockades and the potential of the client. The coach’s ethics is a key element. It has to always accompany all tools used in his/her work with the client. It is absolutely intolerable to make advantage of any knowledge or information received during the work with the client and so is judging the client and his/her decisions or choices.
Talking about coaching we have to approach the stereotype that assigns this type of work to affluent people.
Money is not a key question in coaching. A coach who keeps to the professional ethics in his/her work will approach each client individually – also in the matter of remuneration. Coaching is not reserved for rich businesspeople. It is a universal, open invitation to change. It is often said that a coach is the one to believe in his/her client more than the client does. The coach’s ambition, or better – task, is pulling knowledge that lies within the client out of his/her depths. This is the most important and the most motivating part of coachwork.
Małgorzata Marczewska is president of the Chamber of Coaching, representative of the International Couching Community Poland. She has conducted coaching, training and individual consultations for 15 years. She manages the training company ITEM, designs and conducts long-term development programmes and coaching, she creates learning organisations. She promotes coaching as a universal tool for supporting ones personal, family and professional plans. She specialises in Innovation Design and coaching of Effective Change Processes for institutions, companies and individuals. Together with Manuela Gretkowska she co-founded the Women’s Party as a learning organisation. She is of the co-founders of the Poland is a Woman foundation. She gives lectures at the Warsaw Film School, runs ArtCoaching and LifeDesign courses. She is the initiator and author of the LifeDesign platform that supports designing ones personal and professional life. She works as coach for businessmen, renowned artists and designers.
This article was originally published on Polska Doc.