Lars-Eric Unestål Interview with Lars-Eric Unestahl: Increase your conception and creativity with Coaching.
Prof. Lars-Eric Uneståhl, Ph.D, talks about Coaching in the word, the ethics of coaching, mental training and NLP in an exclusive interview by Global Coaching Magazine.


A few days ago we had a chat with Lars-Eric Uneståhl, one of the Swedish International Coaching Community (ICC) certified trainers in Coaching, Founding President for the International Society for Mental Training and Excellence and current President of the Scandinavian International University in Sweden.

He developed the “Swedish model of Mental Training” in the nineteen sixties and was at that time in close contact with Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir and Timothy Gallwey. Since then he has also contributed actively in the development of Coaching and NLP.


What is your opinion about Coaching, what is Coaching for you?

Coaching has many meanings for me; one is selfCoaching, which is an important part for my own development; time, not only to my conscious part, but also my unconscious part.

And these questions to myself, which have to do with the unconscious part are a very important way for me to use Coaching for what Kahneman calls “slow thinking”, when it’s a matter of problem solving, where you don’t have to make a decision right away, but you can wait a little for the decision. By putting a question to my unconscious, I can just wait for the answer to come after some days or sometimes even weeks. That’s one way of using it.

The other way is, of course, to have clients, both direct clients and in education. So there are three parts: myself, the client and education, having Coaching courses. I think Coaching is a wonderful method, I work with a model for change where the “C” in “change” stands for Coaching, this is a method of change; “H” stands for hypnosis, which is a state of change; “A” stands for acceptance, and commitment training, which is the model for change to accept the present and go for the future, like in Coaching; “N” stands for things like Neuro-imagery methods or NLP; “G” stands for generative images, and images are a very important part for this kind of training; and the “E” stands for emotion training.

So that’s a model where Coaching is one part in an integrated model of change. And the benefit of Coaching is also that it’s easy to learn, easy to apply, and the effect is astonishing for most people; because it seems to be too easy a method to provide radical change, but when people start to understand and to try Coaching, they realize that the effect is much bigger than they thought at the beginning. So, it’s easy to surprise people by this method.


What is your opinion about Global Coaching? I mean, there are a lot of schools, and I don’t know if it’s good for Coaching to have all these minds of business, all the ethics of being in Coaching. Sometimes people use Coaching to create more money, but the ethics is in another part. what is your opinion about that?

When Coaching became to be known and popular twenty years ago, many people started to call themselves coaches because it became modern to be a coach; so, even if they didn’t have any education in Coaching, it was easy to call themselves coaches, because it was attractive. And that was very bad because it gave Coaching a wrong reputation. Newspapers, for instance, they hired a coach and the coach was there to give people advices for questions they sent, so that was not good.
But after some years, the requirement was that you needed an education to call yourself coach. Then institutes became very popular in many countries, which educated coaches in two weekends or one weekend, and that was not good either. So, after some years, people started to ask, “do you have an education? From where do you have an education?” And then the requirements became to have an education that had a good standard; and then the two international, ICF and ICC, became the choice for many people around the world.

And so, the last ten years, I think, we’ve had in ICC a big use of these requirements for having an education that has a high standard. And because it’s international and because it’s the same all over the world, then it’s easier than in ICF. There’s also a nice standard in ICF, however, the education can differentiate from person to person because the requirement in ICF is that the person who gives the education should be approved, but no the content of the education. Here, we have an advantage in ICC, that we have a good quality in the education. That’s maybe why we have this EMCC award also.


Tell me about mental training, and please tell me what is the positive thing to put mental training in Coaching, to make Coaching with mental training.

There are two areas. Mental training is a selfcoaching procedure, but it gives more if you have a coach who is supporting the mental training. You make the mental training yourself, of course, but you get feedback from the coach. So this combination of Coaching-mental training is a very good one. The mental training is given like tasking, and when you meet the coach you get feedback from the mental training. It’s a very good combination!

The other is to take mental training into the coach’s structure, and to complement what we’re doing in Coaching with mental training.

For instance, if you take the first part that you make the goal setting, in traditional Coaching it just makes intellectuals; you find the goals and you start to work towards the goals by planning.

In mental training we go further, we translate the goals to images, and we program the images in the “mental room”, which starts the driving force towards the goal without having to think about it. So, it’s an automatic process where the goals become directing factors for the automatism of life! This is a very fascinating area where we not only work consciously towards the goal, where we are automatically directed to the goals.

So this combination of Coaching, Coaching goals, traditional goals setting with the goal programming is a very nice combination.

If you take this next step in order to find the core values, the intellectual process of analysis can be a little obstacle; so, by giving the task in mental training until the next time we meet in Coaching, your core values will be there. For some people it will be easier to find the core values by this procedure. If you take the ways to the goals, the same in mental training, you can find more ways because the creativity increases in mental training.

So step-by-step, if we take the coaching procedure, every step can be enhanced by mental training.

And the biggest, is the resources; because in traditional Coaching, if we try to identify courses by going back to the past, in mental training we can also use resource development. For instance, if you take your self-esteem, it’s very difficult to increase self-esteem with traditional Coaching tasks, because you can increase confidence, but not self-esteem. So, if you want to increase self-esteem, you need the mental training state and you need the suggestion and the ways, work with attitude and self-esteem. There are several of these combinations between mental training and Coaching.


Is mental training just image, or is it have to do with all the senses? I mean, do you create images in the inner room, or do you create image and feelings and sense, all the possibilities of senses?

Image is the holistic concept, it’s not only pictures, it’s all the senses which are there, with feelings… kinesthetic feelings, auditory, and so on. I found that when I look into the brain, that the brain changes into a holistic brain state, where the EG activities are the same in all parts of the brain, then all four quadrants get the same basic activity. So the brain starts to work as a holistic unit. That’s why images are so effective in mental training, because the brain receives them in a much better way.


And what is the difference between mental training and NLP?

NLP is more of a toolbox, where, in order to find ways to change the state, just now, I want to break my state of mind, and NLP has some very interesting methods. While mental training is more about providing changes which are there without thinking about it, like I said, if you want to change self-esteem, or my optimistic attitude, this is not something which is just related to this situation, but to every situation.

Long-term changes, it’s the same in sport: you can find methods, you can change your performance just now, but if you want a more steady increase in your performance then you need another formal training to automate your learning; but it’s a very good combination of NLP and mental training, and Coaching.




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