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Przemysław Duchniewicz

Pre-conference workshop: Anxiety recognition and regulation in the coach-coachee relationship

Type: Coaching

Session on Tuesday, Jun 23th, 09:00
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Dr Przemysław Duchniewicz is President of EMCC Poland; a Medical Doctor; MBA coach; and Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy therapist. He worked for 13 years in Mars Inc where he was responsible for creating a healthy and engaging culture in the Central European region. His Mars Wellness programme was recognised by the European Union (DG SANCO) as the best among other 146 European health programmes. Currently he works as independent consultant with multi-cultural management teams to increase their performance and shape the organisational culture. In his work he links engagement, competency models, collaboration culture (HPT’s), development processes, personnel administration, HR strategies, Occupational Health & Safety and personal resilience to provide high Return on Investment. He also deliversleadership trainings for line managers. He has expertise not only in process consultation, group processes, surveys, facilitation, but also many multi-dimensional tools like MBTI, FIRO B, EQ-i, 16PF, TKI, Lean, High Performing Models. Some of these have already been translated and validated into Polish culture. He has also trained the trainers in using some of those tools. He is responsible for qualification training for Poland in MBTI Step I, Step II and EQ-i 2.0.
Outside of the corporate world he enjoys time with his three sons and supporting his wife in her career.


During our workshop we will understand more about our interaction with coachee. How we can notice anxiety and body tendency to express feelings and real feelings. The goal is to look at our current clients through lens of anxiety regulation as well as to increase awareness so you can monitor and regulate it better during coaching sessions and normal life. You will be able to help them to be more aware about themselves and to choose what they want to do with it. “The more aware I become, the freer I am to choose… otherwise I can just be driven”.

Most of the time we don’t think about the ‘unconscious’ processes that prepare our body to deal with external threats, real or perceived.
We are too busy to pay attention to it, have no knowledge or maybe we are just too blind.

The foundation of this mechanism was laid down about 400 million years ago when autonomic system started to form. Than 40 million years ago mammals developed more specialised attachment management system where our limbic system decides “Is it going to eat me or feed me? Should I activate body to fight, flight, freeze or not, how fast should such activation rise, how long should it last, when can I relax?”. The latest invention of human brain is the PFC (prefrontal cortex), that has the ability interpret the signal, to calm down our limbic system once it activated the whole body and therefore switch us into more relaxed states. There is our consciousness, our ability to choose. To do it we should have proper ‘hardware’, wiring that develops during early stage of life.

But what if our brain was not able to develop proper ‘wires’? What if we have been trained to push away our needs in order to sustain bond with our caretakers, and we developed different ‘coping strategies’ that are no longer efficient here and now?
Based on John Bowlby and his followers study over 60% of us had no chance to develop ‘secure attachment’ and currently has got ‘challenges’ in this area, where situation, person or thought can evoke impulse that trigger anxiety repressed by ‘defence’ mechanisms.

Is it nice to be anxious? What if it leads us to numerous psychosomatic problems just to name a few: from tension in our body, teeth grinding, neck and back pain, through hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, reflux to mental confusion or memory loss. We are intelligent creatures and we don’t want to suffer, that is why we are looking for solutions that can be helpful, some are more healthy than others, for example, sometimes we:

1. “Push” away the anxiety away by blocking the external stimulus that evoke anxiety. For example, we refuse to accept reality by filtering out the crucial data, devaluate it’s meaning or use humour to turn the stimulus into something “funny”
2. Block the internal emotional response to the external stimulus by forcing unwanted feelings to disappear. Like those ‘military trainings’ to make soldiers ‘cold hearted’. The most cruel technique shown in recent 2 popular movies was to force ‘special agent’ to nurture a dog first and than, after the bond between ‘agent and the animal’ was created to kill the pet
3. Discharge and ‘burning stress hormone’ by using our voluntary striated muscle: beating mattress, exercising , chewing gum, abdominal breathing (diaphragm is a large striated muscle, it also activates nervous vagus, so there is double mechanism)
4. Making our right PFC (prefrontal cortex) stronger so it can suppress limbic system much more efficient, it can be done by mindfulness, meditation.
5. Conscious parasympathetic system activation by Schultz autogenic training and abdominal breathing
6. Express and feel emotions in a moment when they are triggered, let them to flush away our anxiety, by sadness, grief, rage or love
7. Being aware what is going on, monitoring our body and mind to recognise the trigger, what happens with my body, what ‘defences’ I use and to choose what to do next. So that is me who choose my action being in touch with myself.

All mechanisms are efficient, and the last one is proven to be the most healthy. In such case our role as a coach is to be as a real time feedback loop, to notice what is going on in a moment and to give insights, to help our client see what he/she doesn’t notice. To connect current experience with world outside coaching session.

In summary: during our workshop we will look closer at physiological manifestation of anxiety regarding 3 pathways:
• Striated muscles
• Autonomic system: sympathetic and parasympathetic
• Cognitive symptoms.

As well as at the different types of defences that can disable our clients or us from being in touch with our true self. It would be good to bring at least one real life case to benefit from the role play, we we will not have enough real life examples, we will use video recorded sessions.

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