The term ontological coaching literally means “way of being coaching“. It is a method of coaching that addresses how the someone operates as a complete human being at a deep level. I often prefer to use the term transformational over ontological because it translates more immediately when explaining the coaching methodology I use.
The reason that ontological coaching is so powerful and transformational is because it focuses on shifting the “observer that you are” as a human being. It is at the deeper level of how we observe/perceive – and thus create and generate – reality that creates the potential for deep transformation of you and your life, leading to powerful action taken by you, so you can achieve the lasting results you desire as a client.
As stated on the Newfield Institute Australia website:
“In a world of constant and relentless change, we are faced with the challenge to continually re-invent ourselves so that we can successfully adapt to novel and unpredictable circumstances. Ontological Coaching supports people to become more powerful Observers, capable of not only taking more effective action, but also for becoming more self-generating as learners to meet the imperative for the continual development of flexible modes of thinking.”
So how we look at the world is what creates the possibilities of seeing different perspective, which informs the actions that are available to you, to get the results you truly desire to achieve.
This is a simple yet powerful model known as the OAR model:
Again, in ontological coaching we focus on shifting the observer, which naturally brings the right aligned actions to take to get the results you desire.
Now taking a look at the observer, we look at three primary domains in which to shift the observer to create new futures and realities for you.
LANGUAGE – both internal conversations within us and external conversations with others. As human beings we live in language like fishes live in water. We cannot escape it. To understand that language itself is a major influence on how one’s reality shows up, allows us to shift your world drastically, to set up new possibilities for more effortless action, to get the outcomes you want. Language is not simply passive and descriptive, it is creative and generative and actually has a major role in creating reality for individuals, groups and entire cultures.
EMOTIONS / MOODS – in the past, it was thought that rational thought controlled everything. With the work of the founders of ontological coaching and scholars like Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence has come to the forefront of human development and change. The emotional and mood spaces from which we live also play a major role in determining how we show up and thus what actions we can take.
BODY / BIOLOGY – the final domain is that of our human body and biology. It’s the container in which we live as human beings, and affects how we perceive the world and act. However, there is much that can be shifted in terms of body in terms of our senses and body disposition, which includes movement and breathing, as well.
*The above information is adapted from the ontological coaching methodology developed by Fernando Flores, Rafael Echeverria, and Julio Olalla, supported by the research of biologist Humberto Maturana.
If you are really, really curious and want to read more in-depth academic theory and science behind ontological coaching, you can read these ontological coaching papers.