Feedback from group coaching workshops for PhD students

Reviews from the one or two day coaching workshops I facilitated during the three International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics annual student retreats in Tegernsee, Germany (2017), Berlin, Germany (2018) and Granada, Spain (2019).

While the IMPRS student representative, I felt a sense of leadership responsibility to dig into my experiences to give back in some way to fellow PhD students. Having guided meditations twice a week for 5 years at UMass for students/faculty/staff, as well as having received a professional life coaching certification. I have offered many guided meditations at the MPIfR for fellow PhD students and I volunteered to lead a life coaching workshop for three annual IMPRS student retreats.


In 2017 I presented a theoretical and practical 10 hr workshop on Psychosynthesis and Life Coaching, ``Coaching in the Sciences", for about 40 students, revolving around what it means to be a leader, what one's values are and other group based discussions and personal reflection.


In 2018, I led a half-day coaching workshop, ``Effective mental strategies", for about 35 students. I focused here on asking my student colleagues  to look back on the past months to identify the ways they have used their time, and what behavioral change they are inspired to make based on any patterns they observe. I then asked them to focus on designing their weeks in an ideal setting to set priority to their work and life harmoniously--again followed by an action request to apply their ideal week to their life.


In 2019 I led another one day workshop for 40 students which I called,  ``Effective Coaching Techniques to Aid in Completing a PhD", which included a set of deep questioning and reflection exercises. I provided prompts such as ``Who must you become to finish your PhD?" and ``What sequence of events will allow you to overcome the challenges that confront you?".

For an entire week (October 7-11, 2019) the IMPRS and MPIfR participated in the first ever Mental Health Awareness Week for the Max Planck Society effort led by the PhDNet. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I guided a 30-minute meditation for MPIfR staff/researchers and IMPRS Phd students to support this effort. In addition, I presented a 1-hr seminar entitled: ``Theoretical Relevance of Coaching in the Sciences". The sense of purpose I feel when completing these efforts is what drives me to do the science I am so passionate about. When I am feeling a sense of contribution I am positive and optimistic.

I have lots of creative ideas to develop more coaching programs, which can focus on half-day, full day, multi-day themes for summer students, PhD students, postdocs/fellows, supervisors and staff. 


I would be happy to discuss possible coaching programs that I could offer for your institute/department or industry working group. 

 
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PhD student participant

I think the workshop was really useful because I learned more about myself than I would have thought. It was practical because of the many discussions we had, where we could elaborate and ... work on our communication skills.