Systemic coaching - exploring the self

Reading time 10 minutes
Systemic coaching - exploring the self

Systemic coaching is not simply a specific coaching method. Rather, it is a comprehensive coaching approach that focuses on the big picture. It sees each client, whether individual or group, as a unique, complex "system" (we'll come back to that) for which there can be no simple "one size fits all" fixes and answers.

Systemic coaching is about learning to navigate within one's own system more capably and thus to open up possibilities for action. Learn more about it here.

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A systemic coach accompanies you in finding your own answers

Some coaching clients come with fundamental questions. Such as, "How can I really realize my personal potential?" Or, "How can I create a Relationships improve with others - and with myself?" No one can find the answers for you: The expert for your own life is you! What a coach can do for you here is guide you in finding your answers. That, in one simple sentence, is what a systemic coach does.

Other clients have a very specific problem or goal: Perhaps they would like to improve their time management or write more successful job applications. Then it can make sense to also "narrow down" the coaching process: To teach tips and tricks on how to organize work more efficiently. Or how to make a CV read more convincingly. Many classic Coaching methods work like this.

Concrete questions and problems also often benefit from a systemic approach

Often that is enough. But sometimes even these small problems are symptoms of something bigger that's simmering in the background. Maybe your applications sound notoriously uninspired because you're just not happy at all in the field you're working in. Even then, clever application tips will, at best, land you a new job - one you don't really want. The short term goal is achieved - but viewed holistically, you have gained little.

Thoughtful at the laptop

In such cases, systemic Coaching also useful. Because it helps you to really understand what's happening in your life. And to find answers that take you further. The small question from the beginning is then sometimes answered almost automatically - because, for example, the convincing application for the job you're really burning for suddenly writes itself.

Systemic approaches work just as well in personal contexts as they do in families, teams and companies or organisations, where concrete grievances can also be symptoms of something going wrong "in the system".

What kind of "system" is that anyway?

But how do we even define this "system"? It means something like the totality of relationships, ideas, rules, values, beliefs, experiences et cetera that make up the world of this individual/group. All aspects interact in complex ways - and therefore the relationships between causes and effects are rarely simple and linear. They are usually multi-layered and often difficult to access.

Armed with this definition, clients set out to trace the sources of problems in the labyrinth of their systems - and to find solutions that are viable within the system (i.e., for you personally or for this specific group of people). It's not about doing something that might seem like the "right" thing to an outsider. Nor is it about, changes to force, to overturn and reorganize everything from scratch. Systemic coaching is about:

  1. Wise, self-made decisions that make sense within the system. 
  2. About expanding one's own room for manoeuvre in the system.

A systemic coach supports this process - ideally as efficiently as with restraint.

Systemic coaching compared with psychotherapy

If this reminds you a bit of psychotherapy: Yes, there are obvious parallels. Systemic coaching relates to classical coaching at least partly like a holistic psychotherapy to behavioral therapy.

Imagine you come to a behavioral therapist with a pronounced fear of heights that limits you extremely. He or she will help you face your fear and overcome it with certain methods that have been tried and tested thousands of times. Often this solves the problem. However, it is also possible that some time later you will develop another phobia or "just like that". Panic attacks you get. Then your fear of heights had deeper causes that were not addressed - and which are now seeking another expression.

In this sense, the systemic approach claims to be the more sustainable solution because it addresses the roots of the problem. If you go to a systemic psychotherapist with your fear of heights, he will see the fear as a symptom that something fundamental is wrong in your life. Life and your relationships is out of kilter. Together you will try - in a process that is sometimes longer and often "thorny" compared to behavioral therapy - to work through these things. The fear of heights then disappears as a side effect.

Woman talks to therapist on sofa at home

Systemic coaching and psychotherapy have the system-oriented view of the whole. And also the awareness that problems often cannot be solved with a "fire extinguisher approach", but have complex causes.

Differentiation from psychotherapy: What systemic coaching is not

But there is also an important distinction: Systemic coaching can usually not help you to redesign your inner system from scratch, if that should be your goal. You will be enabled to move more consciously and freely within your system, and certainly to change some things for the better. But the fundamental "rebuilding" that may be necessary when a decidedly dysfunctional inner organization stands in the way of a good life is not something a coaching process can do. They remain the domain of psychotherapy.

Accordingly, systemic coaching does not usually take as long as the average psychotherapy. Interesting: Precisely because the coaching process doesn't just treat symptoms, but aims at a strategic understanding of the underlying connections, surprisingly fast breakthroughs are sometimes achieved. (In the field of psychotherapy, this can be compared with solution-oriented short-term therapy, for example).

For whom is systemic coaching suitable?

Problem-centered approach or systemic approach - there is no absolute "right" approach. But there are clients for whom one or the other approach is better suited.

Depending on how stable and well you have set yourself up in your life, it may be more or less useful and purposeful for you to "roll up" your system in a comprehensive coaching process. It's perfectly fine if someone doesn't want to do this. If you just want application or time management tips, or need someone to advise you on an important decision, there are other coaching approaches that do that directly and with less effort.

Systemic coaching can be just the journey to yourself you need if you:

  1. Thinking about coaching out of some sort of basic dissatisfaction.
  2. Feel like something is "stuck" in the grand scheme of things.
  3. Big questions in your life.
  4. Suspect that your little questions may be placeholders for big questions.

What is the goal of systemic coaching?

Systemic coaching is rather reluctant to set itself a very narrowly defined goal. However, the clear goal of systemic coaching is always to make people freer. It is about discovering possibilities of behaviour and action in one's own reality that have not been perceived so far. This can lead to comprehensive transformations in your life. Or "only" to subtle shifts. In any case to more clarity. To self-made choices. To the feeling of really being on your own path.

What does a systemic coach do?

Simply put, he listens. He asks questions. And interprets what he has experienced - often sparingly, always without judgement. Sometimes with examples from his own experience.

Systemic coaching goes far beyond the regular application of certain techniques and methods. The systemic coach must empathically empathize with the reality of his counterpart and be able to initiate processes and provoke insights with questions and interjections in the right places. This includes the awareness that even a neutral consultant is very soon no longer an outsider, but is "spun into" the client's system, so to speak: This interaction between client and coach can provide important insights in the coaching process.

Which methods are used in systemic coaching?

Systemic coaching, as a holistic approach, is not defined or limited by the use of specific methods. However, a systemic coach can work with a whole range of methods that help clients to explore, understand and move more freely within their systems.

These include, for example, visualizations (symbolic constellations, maps or diagrams of the system components, be they persons from the present or the past or the "inner team"). And certain communication techniques, such as seemingly playful questions, role reversal prompts, or "crazy" challenging assertions that can change clients' perspectives and thus provide them with new insights into their systems.

How does one become a systemic coach?

Training or further education in the field of systemic coaching includes - at a minimum - the acquisition of comprehensive knowledge in the areas of Psychology, Depth Psychology, Communication and Systems Theory. (Neurobiology, physics, philosophy, social sciences, anthropology and religion can't hurt either...). The acquisition of numerous exciting coaching methods and tools is of course also part of the training.

But that is not all. In order to effectively accompany clients on the journey into their own system, a systemic coach must first have the greatest possible clarity about himself or herself. He or she must have experienced first-hand what it means to get to know the core of one's own being, to shed light on the thicket of one's own perceptions, beliefs and behavioural patterns and to move through it consciously, flexibly and attentively. In other words: At the beginning of the training, every coach aspirant should definitely go through a broad systemic coaching themselves.

Who offers such training? What do I have to pay attention to?

The training to become a systemic coach or systemic consultant is not a state-regulated training. It is offered exclusively by private institutions. You will therefore find a large number of providers on the market whose formats can differ considerably - in principle, anyone can set up such a training.

This, of course, brings a certain Uncertainty Many seekers ask themselves how they can judge the seriousness of a provider. But the diversity also offers opportunities: There's a good chance that you'll find one of the various programs that fits in well with your needs, both in terms of content and organization. Digital formats, for example, are an ideal fit for a career or high family demands. It can also be informative to first "test" a provider as a coaching client - if this is possible: If you are convinced by the consulting, you will probably also like the content of the training.

To simplify the selection of a reputable training, you could look at certifications awarded by the professional associations of the industry. However, there are so many of them (for example the German Coaching Association, the German Federal Coaching Association, the German Association for Coaching and Training, just to name a few) that it is easy to lose track.

Size is certainly also an argument for a trainer: Greator is Germany's largest digital coaching platform. We have 3.8 million Youtube Views per month and 1.5 million Spotify podcast downloads - and we offer intensive digital training formats: You can train with us to become a Greator coach or speaker.

What requirements do I have to bring with me?

Most of the training and further education courses for systemic Become a coach offered without prerequisites. Anyone can participate - and that is basically a very good thing. People can become good listeners, advisors and "system understanders" in many different ways.

On the other hand, it is obviously useful if you have already completed vocational training or studies in a field that is relevant in some way (take heart: from natural sciences to human resources management, this is a very broad field) and/or have as much professional and life experience as possible overall. Often, your experience from your training, studies or job can be an advantage. Possibly you have acquired a kind of "expert status" in your field, which you can super apply in coaching with the client. Example: A client comes to you who likes to become self-employed but is afraid of it. You may have already been down this path, so you can coach him in this regard and also support him in self-employment in particular.

What does a systemic coach earn?

How much you can earn as a systemic coach depends on how busy you are: you are usually not employed anywhere, so you are paid by the hour or by the project.

Your earnings will be affected by whether you consult with individuals in one-on-one coaching sessions or land jobs with organizations. The latter often bring more work "at a stretch", and you can also charge higher fees.

Hourly rates for private clients start at around 100 Euros, for corporate clients you should calculate at least 150 Euros. Experienced coaches who advise executives or teams on behalf of large companies can easily charge several hundred euros per hour - but as a beginner you should not assume that you will be playing in this league right away or even in the near future. Nevertheless, after your first positive experiences with companies, you can increase to 200 euros without a guilty conscience.

The acquisition must work!

Now you can calculate how much you can earn as a fully loaded coach. With four one-hour sessions with private clients per day, for example, you are at an annual turnover of about 80,000 euros - from which your operating costs (including the rent for your office, your advertising costs, your insurance as a self-employed person) and taxes are deducted. Then you're somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 euros net annual income. That's not a huge amount of wealth - but it's a decent livelihood.

Don't forget: You depend on a steady influx of clients, because coaching sessions typically don't last more than ten sessions. So your acquisition should work perfectly.

Your training to become a Greator Coach

You know us as Germany's central coaching platform. Our live events are highlights that bring hundreds of thousands of participants to their feet to experience exciting, world-renowned speakers. But above all, it's our fantastic coaches, our videos, podcasts and apps that help so many people unleash their full potential every day.

For some of the people who have personally benefited from Greator, the training to become a systemic coach is the next step: Here you deepen your knowledge about yourself - and then learn how to help other people on their way to becoming the best version of themselves. Just as you have experienced it "in the flesh" before. Go through the Training as Greator Coach! Our holistic approach has the whole person, his past, present and future in mind.

During the first three months, you will intensively deal with your Beliefsfears and issues. This deep reflection and the insights (also through Meditations) will give you much more inner peace and clarity. In the subsequent coaching training you will acquire a comprehensive skill set that will enable you to empathically accompany and sustainably support other people on their own path to themselves.

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Market positioning and marketing: We won't leave you alone!

Our large, worldwide network of certified Greator coaches is your community - and makes it easy for you to get started in the coaching business.

Furthermore, we offer you additional training modules that deal with the - tiresome, but unfortunately also tremendously important - economic side of coaching. You learn how to position yourself in the market, acquire marketing skills and learn how to sell your skills at a reasonable price.

With these two sides of the Greator training you make the work as a Greator coach for you an exciting, fulfilling life task - and a practically functioning livelihood!


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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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