Meet the Coach: Michelle Windle
What attracted you to become a coach?
My approach to therapeutic coaching is the culmination of everything I have learned from my own diverse career working as a therapist, a CEO and in corporate life.
When I was starting out as a new CEO, I was similar to many of the clients I see now. I knew that I needed support but was unsure where to find it. I loved my work and the difference I was making but struggled with the challenge of the need to support my team whilst also dealing with the emotional demands of the role on me as person. As the head of the organisation, I didn’t have anyone to turn to for that support. I sought out a therapist but that didn’t seem to bring together all of the complex elements that are part of managing a business, being a leader and being myself.
That experience led to the career I have now as a dual trained therapist and coach. Through bringing together the powers of coaching and therapy in a single way of working, I work with the whole person, rather than the situation or role. Change seems to happen much quicker with this approach. Using the challenge and directness of coaching alongside the depth and warmth of the therapeutic has proved to be highly effective.
Where did you train?
My original counselling training was 18 years ago in Sydney and over the years I have built on that with other therapeutic trainings including training with Relate in the UK as a couples counsellor. My coaching training is through the Institute of Learning and Management (Level 7 Masters level) and I am a member of BACP coaching division which represents counsellors and psychotherapists who integrate coaching and counselling.
My time as a CEO also led me to undertake a Masters in Strategy, Change and Leadership as I was looking to understand more about the challenges that I was dealing with on a daily basis. I have found this knowledge and background is particularly helpful when working with clients going through transition both professionally and personally.
What kind of coaching do you offer?
Coaching is about creating new thinking but sometimes clients need to process long held beliefs or patterns before they are able to move forward to where they want to be.
A change is unlikely to be sustainable if addressed in isolation and therapeutic coaching provides a solid foundation to be able to explore all of the inner conflicts and issues that a client is grappling with and are preventing them from being who they want to be.
What sort of coaching clients do you usually see?
My clients come from many different backgrounds and sectors but what they generally have in common is how important their work is to their identity. It might be that they are looking to make a difference in the world or it may be their own business. Either way, because they are connected to it on both a personal and professional level, it plays a significant role in their life.
These clients are drawn to working with me because of the mix of my experience - combining the personal (therapeutic) with the professional (executive coaching) alongside the fact that my direct experience in business means I understand the challenges they are facing.
Do you ever suggest books or other materials to clients?
There many great writers that have inspired me and a book I have been recommending recently for clients in the transition stage later in life is James Hollis’s book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life. He is a Jungian analyst who explores how once we move beyond family and society’s expectations in the first stage of life, we have the opportunity in midlife to examine what our real purpose is.
What do you like about being a coach?
I love seeing the transformational changes that come about from clients gaining a greater understanding of themselves and having the insights and tools to make conscious choices. I am inspired by my clients on a daily basis, both by the depth and strengths that emerge during our work together and their willingness and courage to move towards change.
What is less pleasant?
It can be isolating working online but I have now developed a great network of coaches both here in Bristol and online. Everyone has such different styles and it is fascinating to learn from others’ perspectives.
What is one life lesson you try to live by?
There’s a quote attributed to Einstein that sums up my belief in coaching and its power to create meaningful change: “A problem was never solved at the same level of consciousness that it was created.”
What do you wish people knew about coaching?
Everyone could benefit from having coaching. The power of having someone truly listen and help you understand your situation from a different perspective can be life-changing.
Do you have a favourite client testimonial or particular success story?
The best people to describe my work are always the people that experience it. Here’s some recent feedback from Hannah Wilson, Director of Diverse Educators
“Michelle is a calm and reassuring presence, she is a deep thinker and an astute listener. Our coaching sessions have helped me to go deeper, further and broader with my transition to working independently and my strategic vision for not only my business but also for my life. I thoroughly enjoy being coached by her as she challenges me in a supportive way. I feel very safe in our sessions as she guides me through the messiness to clarity and concrete next steps. I appreciate her therapeutic lens on the world and her ability to cut to the core of a perceived problem.”