A Masterclass in ICF Coaching with Fernando Hettiyadura (Lab Report #44)

Yannick’s Coaching Lab features guest coaches from a broad variety of approaches, who showcase how they work as part of a live 45min coaching session, followed by reflections and Q&A with the audience.
Curious to know what this session was like? Have a peek at the Lab Report below or consider VIP membership to access the full recording of this and many more exciting sessions.

Yannick’s Coaching Lab #44 — Fernando Hettiyadura
Lab Report by Natalie Fraser


Fernando Hettiyadura is a Master Certified Coach credentialled by the International Coaching Federation and Multidisciplinary Therapist with over 18 years of experience working with individuals and organizations. He works transformationally and uses holistic and heart-based interventions. Fernando takes the position of a learner in every session, and invites with humility the humanity of both client and coach who may ‘break rules’ or make mistakes.

Fernando’s client is based in Ireland and has been a coach for 4 years, still undertaking training to advance her skills. She is passionate about the interpersonal relationship within the coaching space, and loves her career. She has been involved with one of Fernando’s companies for some time now, and is already being mentored and coached by Fernando. Both Fernando and his client have a good and comfortable relationship, and Fernando recognizes her strength and ability to look inside herself. A theme they’ve been working on together recently is self-love which she believes is fundamental for everyone and would like to continue working on today. In this session, her inner talk was explored, specifically increasing positive talk that serves her.

Key Insights

Before beginning, Fernando checked in with his client about how she feels being in this space (being recorded and watched by a live audience) which is different to their normal coaching space.

Fernando asked his client how she’d like to start, and she requested taking some deep breaths which he joined her in.

The session began by reflecting on what stood out from their previous session. Fernando’s client identified a number of themes, including trust in herself, making decisions, taking action, and being more able to focus. The perspective shift achieved in last session was articulated as experiencing great change related to trust and self-love.

Fernando identified the key word from their last session: knowing, and checked in with how this related to the perspective shifts which occurred.

Fernando asked the client to imagining their knowing self next to them right now, asking what they would say.

The evolution of perspective shift was brought into the room, exploring the difference between a static change and change being an evolving process.

Fernando demonstrated his care, attention, and remembering of his client, asking permission to share what stood out for him from their last session.

The client identified that more positive inner talk that is serving me was a desired focus of today, and Fernando gave space for her to explain what this would look like for her which she was able to identify in detail.

Fernando brought attention to his client’s hands which last time he felt were hidden, yet in this session he felt were ‘talking’. A detailed exploration of what both client and coach felt the hands and body gestures represented in relation to the client’s story and feelings was engaged with.

The invitation to explore a goal for todays session was provided: to find techniques to stop the spiraling of inner dialogue happening. What would achieving this goal look like: having a practice, a feeling, a knowing that she can manage shifting from inner self-talk that isn’t serving her to inner self-talk that is. The client’s resources to achieve this were given space and acknowledged. A realistic expectation was also considered.

Awareness was identified as something missing, and working towards cultivating this awareness to put things into action was identified as important. Shifting between inner talk was revealed not to be the difficulty, but rather awareness of the inner talk’s tone and the impact on her feelings. The session explored awareness through several lenses including: feelings as resources or tools of awarness, shifting perspective from a still image towards an evolving experience, and language such as moving ‘maybe’ towards ‘can’.

Developing awareness through practices that his client already engaged with and her social support systems were identified as valuable tools to continue developing awareness.

Fernando closed the session by summarizing the journey of the session, specifically through the question of “we talk about this as an expansion of understanding yourself, how has this expansion happened for you today?”. While his client was easily able to articulate a list of areas that expanded, Fernando also asked her to check in with her body to clarify what may have shifted with these expansions: a peacefulness, representing a trust in herself and a knowing.

“If we were to end this conversation, how would you like to step into this space?” offered the client the chance to express her truths, before Fernando closed by sharing his truths and many words of appreciation, encouragement, belief, and support.

Key Take-Aways

Fernando emphasizes that when beginning a coaching journey with a client, just like purchasing anything, the client should be as fully informed as possible about what to expect from the process such as that coach’s coaching style.

Both Fernando and his client emphasized why trust is fundamental within the relationship. Fernando deeply trusts his clients within the process. He also expressed that not being afraid of being fully himself within sessions is important.

By fully approaching the session as a learner, Fernando takes nothing for granted and deeply considers his clients as magnificent knowing beings whom he can learn from and by doing so they also learn from themselves. He gave the imagery of his client on a chair and himself sitting below them as a young child, full of awe, eager to learn.

Asked if he is tempted to share an insight, Fernando shared that this temptation to share insights is long gone. His approach is that any temptation to share comes from a focus on himself, a distraction from his client, and therefore not being there for his client. His attitude is not one of ‘working’ but one of ‘being’. When we are thinking for the client or presuming they’ll struggle with our question, we are no longer coaching and no longer trusting them to be able to express what is or is not working for them.

Fernando reminds clients who are training within ICF levels that at times, the coaching role must balance what comes naturally and what techniques and technicalities are formally required.

Note taking is a well-considered aspect of Fernando’s work from the outset. Initially, no notes are taken. Within the first session, Fernando asks his client’s permission to take notes and explains why (e.g. memory aid), before purposefully showing himself retrieving his writing pad to make clients aware, whilst holding the notepad/tablet to create a power imbalance (note-taking being commonly associated by with doctors and therapists).

Watch the recording of this session by joining the Lab as a member: www.GoCoachingLab.com
A list of all available recordings can be found at https://bit.ly/LabRecordings

This Lab Report was authored by Natalie Fraser 

Natalie is an existential Counselling Psychologist, specialising in trauma and transformation, and curious about coaching. Interested in exploring life’s Big Questions? Find out more at: www.existentialofferings.com