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Health and peace: Coaching for mental health and well-being 

 by Nak Thaileak, Senior Project Officer, Live and Learn Cambodia


We are all somewhere along the spectrum of well-being. Every day and every week, we move along it. The state of well-being varies among different people, and may be changing at any moment based on our circumstances and mental health. However, maintaining good mental health and well-being is essential as it allows us to experience inner peace, helping us create peace within our the communities we belong in.  

Given the interrelation between health and peace, the Linking and Learning Cambodia Team honored the International Day of Peace 2023 by hosting a mindfulness workshop called “Coaching for Mental Health and Well-being” on 21-22 September. This was done together with Voice Cambodia’s grantee partners, and with professional support from the Cambodia Coaching Institute (CCI). The class went extremely peaceful that everyone felt so calm and relaxed during the event.  


A representative from the Cambodia Coaching Institute starting off the coaching session


The workshop started off with self-introductions and sharing of feelings using a metaphor. A lively atmosphere started to fill the room as some started to share that they felt like flying birds escaping from the cage, while some felt like they are surrounded by beautiful, creative, and aesthetic art.  


Activity on what coaching means for the participants


Participants then engaged in giving their own definition of coaching based on their experience and understanding. According to the handbook of Transformational: Coaching for Leaders by CCI, Coaching is “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential (International Coaching Federation)”. Simply put, the core of coaching is to focus on the person and not the problem they are dealing with as it is originally intended to help individuals develop resilience, strength and performance to uncover his or her own inherent abilities.   

The formal session started with core coaching skill and competency, which was about the four levels of listening: (1) focusing on the awareness of our inner voice/state (inner world); (2) ability to recollect information (eyes and ears); (3) understanding the present issues (head); and (4) connecting (head, heart and body). Higher competence within each level makes us better listeners and enables us to connect with the people around us. Being introduced to these levels of listening, participants were engaged in a practice where they listened to a trainer’s story and tried to choose the listening level to practice. Many participants tried the first level as it was easy while there were some who chose level four to challenge themselves.  


Practicing their listening skills by pairs


After that, the trainer took the class through the characteristics and structures powerful questions. It’s one of the core coaching skills that draws its power from the fundamental mindsets of a coach: curiosity, focus on the person, appreciative and non-judgemental. Subsequently, the trainer shared a short story so participants could practice asking negative and powerful questions in relation to that story. This technique helped everyone gain a better understanding of what makes questions powerful and learn to distinguish between negative and powerful questions should or shouldn’t be asked as a coach. 


Participants during a role play on negative and powerful questions


On the second day, the topic of designing a powerful relationship was explored. One of the key coaching concepts is consciously designing a relationship. It drew the importance in building trust and connection between the coach and client. To emphasise the message better, the trainers performed a role play to demonstrate how to design a relationship. To make the relationship work, both parties have to give a hundred per cent. If one gives less than the other, it will fall. There are more content captured in the workshop which helped the participants to build their skills in coaching for mental health and well-being as leaders of their communities.  

The workshop ended with a heartfelt activity leaving everyone feeling incpired. The trainers asked everyone to give each other acknowledgement statements recognising the value or a remarkable quality of a person. This subsequently made everyone feels seen, heard and understood. Hopefully, this helped them heal in some way.  


Ms. Ngeth Socheata sharing her insights about the workshop


Here are some insights shared by participants on the workshop.  


“Coaching changed my perspective in leading and working with community. Before, I never cared about others’ feelings when I talked to them because all I wanted was the work to be done. However, after this workshop, I will apply what I’ve learnt here as a coach and become a better leader and co-worker, hopefully.”

– Mr. Khut Khim, Project Coordinator, Organization for the Promotion of Kui Culture 


“I’m quite content to have had the opportunity to join this training on coaching for mental health and well-being organized by Linking & Learning Cambodia. I’m committed to distribute this knowledge to my community especially elderly people who suffer anxiety and depression in order to help them become active and empowered individuals with good well-being.”

– Mr. Chhiv Lonh, RHG of HelpAge Cambodia 


“This workshop guided me to explore myself deeper using my mind and heart in order to better communicate with myself and people around.”

– Ms. Ngeth Socheata, Representative of Art and Mental Health  



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