Interview with Ms Brenda Blackburn, Life Coach, Canada

Brenda, tell me about Life Coaching and what kind of life coaching do you offer?
The type of life coaching I offer is group life and career coaching facilitated in personal growth workshops that are engaging and fun!  The group interaction creates a dynamic synergy, and the experiential process is an empowering one filled with discovery about self and others.  I love what I do!
My particular designation is that of Life Skills Coach, with university training based on the Saskatchewan NewStart model, whose founders “saw Life Skills as an important historical step leading to social advancement”, (The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching, 1995).  Life Skills training has roots dating back to 1964 and was first introduced in an anti-poverty NewStart training program (Adkins and Rosenberg) approved in 1966. 

Brenda, tell me something about the Life Skills Model?
The Life Skills Model is first “a theoretical model, which has a basis in modern psychology and adult learning theory.  Second, it is a content model through which coping, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are developed.  Third, it is a methodological model, which provides the framework and techniques for effective skills development.  Fourth, Life Skills is the interaction of all of these elements, enhanced by the interplay of group dynamics that are brought to the model via the participants.” (The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching, 1995.)

What is Group Life Coaching all about?
Group Life Coaching Curriculum is holistically designed to address the development of cognitive, emotional and behavioural problem solving skills (balanced self-determined behaviour), including human relations and interpersonal skills.  Experiential learning promotes attitude and behavioural change through self-responsibility and freedom of choice.  It should be noted that the needs of the group may supersede curriculum goal posts, and a skilled leader will take the group where they need to go in terms of learning.  A course is considered successful if participants practice the skills in the group, use them in their personal lives, and teach them to others in real-life scenarios (abbreviated as “P.U.T.”).
Once thing that group life coaching is not, is therapy.  While life and career coaching may reflect back on past events to learn, the focus is on positive skill development in the present moment, used to build the future.  As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

Who offers Life Skills courses and what results can be expected?
Life Skills courses were once primarily facilitated in federally and provincially funded training programs, (which my background also includes), however, they are now offered throughout colleges, businesses, educational and recreational facilities, spiritual organizations, and public workshops.  Life Skills courses may be known by many names, such as personal development, personal growth, soft skills training, employee engagement, and group life and career coaching.
As most participants will share, describing the workshops can be challenging to articulate, as the learning has to be experienced.  But the evaluative feedback is telling.  As an example, here is a testimonial from a participant of one of my workshops, Dealing with Challenging Behaviour: "Great workshop. …I think it would be great for the community. It was very helpful in my relationships. It really gives insight as to the different styles in dealing with conflict. Also the course gave me practice in helping be aware of my style and practice in learning how to use a "collaborative" method of dealing with conflict. I recommend that everyone take this. I believe it will add to everyone's quality of life and help us all to deal better with conflict as a community and in our lives personally."

Brenda, Thanks a lot for sharing the valuable information. May you continue to transform peoples' lives with your group life coaching!
Brenda Blackburn has been facilitating group life and career coaching workshops since 1996, and has been a trainer since 1991.  For more information, see http://www.brendablackburn.com/

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