Hope Has Meaning When It Comes to Life!
We all have places in our life where we are blocked. Working together, we will identify those blocks and find ways to overcome them.
Life coaching is defined as a co-created relationship, where a coach partners with a client in a thought provoking and creative process, that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential by designing their future rather than getting over their past. One personal and professional coaching has shifted the paradigm of how people who seek help with life transitions as well as with their life goals find a professional to partner with them in designing their desired future. Peer-to-peer mentoring takes place between a person who has lived through a specific experience and a person who is new to that experience. While peer-to-peer coaching is similar to mentoring, it is different in one key way: Mentoring assumes that the mentor has a position of knowing the right way to move forward, and coaching assumes that the coachee has the answers to move forward and that all the coach has to do is ask the right question to help the coachee discover their own path. The coach challenges the coachee with new ideas, and it encourages the coachee to move beyond the things that are most comfortable by focusing on building their future instead of dwelling on their past.
Why Peer to Peer?
Peer to peer provides a ‘safe’ environment in which a person can find someone to listen to their problems and work through life. A study by Urban Institute stated that it’s important to gain the trust of participants, noting that if they are not comfortable sharing the barriers they face, mentors cannot help them address those barriers. Culturally sensitive mentors with similar backgrounds and experiences have been shown to develop closer relationships and achieve positive development outcomes. A research article titled Mentoring Formerly Incarcerated Adults found through their interview data that mentors who had been incarcerated may have been in a better position to support their mentee. Mentors who had never been incarcerated mentioned more frequently that they struggled with getting their mentees to open up and be responsive to offers of help than did mentors who were ex-prisoners. Also, compared with participants who did not have a mentor, mentored participants were 35 percent less likely to have recidivated within a year of being released.
Peer-to-peer coaching works the same way. In fact, Liz Browne, professor at Oxford University, argues in the article titled Proposing a Proximal Principle Between Peer Coaching and Staff Development as a Driver for Transformation that it is precisely the closeness of the coach to the coachee and the fact that in a coaching relationship there is not an expert and novice approach, but rather both parties have something to offer, that enhances the transformational effect. She says that Joyce and Showers argue in their article Student Achievement Through Staff Development that “the closer an innovation is to the experience of the learner the greater the impact is likely to be.” In this case the innovation that they, and we, are speaking of is the use of peer coaches to facilitate the learning of new behaviors. Browne goes on to say, “A relationship of trust between peers is established; the culture is one of ‘no blame’ with candour, support and mutual sharing of ideas and concerns…Rogers describes this reciprocal relationship as a ‘a dance of mutual influence and growth’.” We believe that it is this culture of mutual growth that has allowed us to be so successful on the inside with this model and will continue to help us be successful at building a community of high-functioning, thriving reentrants. It is through “…conversation and language [as] a means for change. Peer coaching develops this approach. It is a co-operative act involving mutual respect that enhances community and builds social capital. It is through dialogue that we bring about change leading us to act in ways that result in justice and the true flourishing of human potential.”
Furthermore, peer-to-peer coaching helps not only the coachee open up and transform through conversations that would not have happened had it not been with a peer coach, it also helps the coach grow and transform as well. This is essential to our model because our participants transition into peer coaches and facilitators themselves, which allows the building and perpetuation of our community of committed, engaged citizens.
In another study, Daniel Merrian and Eric Snyder in their article Peer Coaching in American Intercollegiate Athletics: An investigation of team dynamics, confidence and student-athlete learning note the following “the findings suggest peer coaching can be successful across groups and within various environmental contexts and again, “…the findings support previous peer coaching research that was found to be successful among different populations and within different environments….”.
Peer relationships provide individuals that have endured a specific life experience the chance to learn from those that have thrived after experiencing the same or similar situations. And because a peer coach has lived that experience, he or she will be guided by it as well as intuition to be able to ask the right questions to facilitate the growth of the coachee into their best selves: someone who is not just surviving or not breaking the law, but rather, who is thriving and reaching their established goals.