Psychodynamic coaching during crisis for executives
Due to the corona crisis, many managers are currently confronted with multiple challenges and must now deal with these changed conditions on an economic, social and health level. In addition to rapid assessments, this requires decisions to be made at various levels, as well as the communication, implementation and possibly revision of instructions for action.
External and internal crises
The current crisis also demands a great deal from managers on an emotional level. We all know how difficult it can be to regulate one’s own thoughts, feelings and emotions in crisis situations and to behave calmly, deliberately and rationally. However, this is precisely what managers are required to do in crisis situations in order to offer employees support and orientation.
However, this is not so easy: stressful situations such as the Corona crisis offer a multitude of possibilities that can upset the inner psychic balance. If it is not possible to restore this balance by oneself, psychoanalytical coaching can be helpful.
In order to get an idea of which concepts can also be applied in psychoanalytical coaching during crisis, the execution should initially be limited to the concepts of “affect regulation”, “containing” and “biographical development issues”. It should be pointed out that psychoanalytic coaching is altogether more complex – and a possible crisis of the client does not yet have to be completely described by these three central concepts.
Regulating emotions in consulting during crisis
The changes associated with the current situation, the loss of what has been familiar to date and the resulting reduction in stability and security can also cause fear among managers. Particularly delicate is the uncertainty about the further development of the situation, which can lead to shock rigidity, i.e.a complete inability to act, among managers.
Psychoanalytic coaching can be very useful, especially for those managers who experience strong emotions and feel subjectively overwhelmed by crisis situations. The coach takes on a mirroring function and puts the client’s feelings into a larger context. In this way he helps the manager not to remain permanently in an emotional state of emergency, but to understand, evaluate and classify the inner states. The coach thus assumes a regulative function, which may not be sufficiently available to the manager in crisis at certain moments. In this way, the coach creates new capacities that not only relieve the manager, but also make him or her capable of acting again.
“Containing” as a form of emotional learning
In order to support managers in crisis management and to relieve them emotionally, the psychoanalytically trained coach also takes up the conscious and unconscious messages of the client, pays attention to his own responding feelings and memories and returns them to him in a moderated form. In doing so, he allows himself to be touched by the incomprehensible, doubting, needy and frustrating aspects of the client, works through these contents, as it were, and returns them to the client in digestible doses. In this way, the executive can better recognize and integrate what has been misunderstood or even split off, and thus calm down emotionally. This enables the client to face the world and the associated current challenges again and possibly even to see them as an opportunity.
Biographical development topics
In order to emerge from the crisis stronger, it is also necessary to question oneself in relation to the current crisis situation. The subjective assessment of a crisis is always related to the biographical development, the personality structure and the manager’s own issues, including those that are frequently in conflict. However, these topics are usually not conscious to the executive, continue to have an unprocessed effect and currently lead to an overstraining of the previous defence and processing mechanisms. Within the framework of psychoanalytical coaching in a crisis, we jointly ask which developmental themes are reactivated by the crisis and which unconscious motives, wishes, fears, prohibitions, drives or needs are connected with them. For this purpose, a corresponding focus is formed, which includes the central unconscious motives and backgrounds in addition to the current, conscious problem situation. Furthermore, the focus also includes the direction in which a solution to the current crisis situation can be expected. If the leader is willing to do so, this material can be made available to him/her. In doing so, initial references between the external situation and the internal conflict topic are established. The aim is to support the leader in understanding himself/herself better in relation to the current crisis situation and to gain greater scope for conscious decisions.