At the School Counseling Group, education consulting is grounded in relationship and process, as well as content. Though our clients of course hire us for our seasoned expertise on schools, colleges, and therapeutic programs, how we interact with our clients– the process—is fundamental to the outcome. We show up as equals in each relationship, valuing in the other their perspective, capability, and deep, human capacity to feel and to love. Coming from this place in a working relationship creates greater opportunities for awareness and growth than simply working towards a measurable outcome.
Recently, I worked with a parent understandably concerned about her child’s waning level of engagement in school and life in general. Rather than avoid the parents’ frustration and fear by steering the conversation back to school choice and outcomes, I asked if this parent believed their child truly was capable or whether, deep down, they feared their child was, possibly, incapable. This led to an exploration the parent’s the vision for their child—the agenda—and whether their vision was truly, deeply, and consistently focused on developing the child’s autonomy and independence? Here, I was able to share my own experience as a parent, including my own insecurities, potential oversights and missed opportunities. We considered how well-intentioned fears and anxieties cloud clear thinking, feeling and action, and how as parents we naturally project our own insecurities upon our child.
This conversation would not have been nearly as helpful within a classic “consulting” relationship rooted in hierarchy and expertise. A truly relational consulting relationship is more like coaching and begins with belief in each client’s clear capability—as well as hearing and valuing their feelings and projections. This conversation was successful in building awareness and understanding, as well in cementing the power and utility of our consulting partnership. We were initially hired to consult about changing schools; our value I believe has only been enhanced by the use of a relational consulting framework allowing for meaningful considerations of what really matters.