Octagon Coaching Paper

Marly’s Coaching Method

Octagon:Creative Exploration
Marly Milena in SL/ Niela Miller in 1stLife (www.peoplesystemspotential.com)

I am an American living in the Boston, Ma. area . In Second Life, I am part of Inspiration Island, home of Whole Brain Health. I came to Second Life in 2007 already excited about the creative possibilities here for learning and teaching. I combine a background in many arts, humanistic psychology and education and am interested in the possibilities of SL technology to promote human potential and growth through the use of creative tools and processes.

My group is called Octagon: Creative Exploration where I offer all sorts of programs using arts processes for personal growth and educational ventures, employing my skills in Gestalt and Jungian modalities and group dynamics. I also see people for individual sessions.

We use the technology of Second Life to make symbolic representations of inner processes, whether they reside in body, mind or emotions and usually a combination. We also work with ideas, values, and problem solving issues of contemporary life. individuals work with their own representations of their ideas, challenge or feeling state and experiment with various options for finding new pathways, insights and perspectives. Often, it is the beginning of a larger process. We use objects, colors and textures and encourage people to experiment with shaping, dialogues, transparency and other forms of discovery using the visual on the screen and staying in touch with their body at the computer for self-feedback. In other programs, we use digital paintings, music, role plays and other art forms.

This is an attempt to describe a typical creative coaching session although each piece of work with a volunteer differs.

A group gathers—maybe five, maybe twenty—I ask for a volunteer for a demonstration of a coaching process. (I will refer to this person as the client henceforth).

When the client comes forward, I set up some guidelines such as confidentiality on the part of the group , willingness of the client to share the challenge with the group, a knowledge of basic building skills (although we expedite this by having a building helper), and ability to communicate in English. I instruct attendees to share their questions and comments in the chat bar after the demo and to restrict any analysis of the volunteer but, rather, focus on what it brought up for them as observers. I am on a headset so my voice can be heard.

If I initiate the process, I ask the client to focus on a current challenge that is not too big since our time is limited in the session. I ask the client to feel what it evokes in the body sitting at home at the computer, and then to build something which symbolizes that feeling state. It is not difficult to pull a basic geometric shape out of a Create window, put it on the ground, stretch it, give it a color or texture…. Then I usually do Gestalt work (please Google Gestalt for a larger explanation of what this branch of psychology is about): they become the object, speak to the creator part of them and a dialogue ensues while, all the time, I ask them to pay attention to what is happening in their body at the computer. The body acts as an accurate barometer of shifts in feeling and perception as the Avatar works with the object on the screen.

The client usually feel a sense of control from being able to manipulate these objects in real time and change them as their perception shifts. Some remarkable insights and changes occur on the spot. I think that the ability to create and change the object as one goes along, to be inside or on top of it, make it smaller, larger, translucent, etc. produces a set of conditions that help the person become aware and feel in charge of their process by shifting perception and perspective.

We try to stay with the process until there has been at least a basic formation of the challenge and its artistic representation leading to an insight or a shift in perspective. The observers are following the process with their own feelings and thoughts and are welcome to comment or ask questions once we have halted the process with the volunteer.

The best way to get a sense of this is to offer to be in the client role. There are no mistakes. The client can do as little or as much as s/he is comfortable with doing. The people who come to these sessions are supportive and attentive and often have insights of their own as they pay attention to the process.

This work is still evolving after several years. We apply this general approach to many different types of programs we do here.

Marly Milena
Octagon:Creative Exploration (group in Second Life)