You’d be amazed

I always am.  It’s incredible what clients do with a button.  All of a sudden the button takes on a persona, an emotion, a hurt, a meaning, a frustration. It can be tapped, and stroked, rubbed between thumb and fingers. It can be held up close and it can be kept at arm’s length. Sometimes buttons sit on top of one another or knock others off the table.

Why is that helpful?

Because, as Dr Pat Williams, co-founder of the ICF Core Competencies says, “it creates a discussion about that which is not said easily”

And that’s the real power of using creative, physical metaphors. It doesn’t rely on the client’s ability to articulate what’s going on for them. When clients are truly ‘lost for words’ inviting them to use other ways to express themselves provides them the opportunity to make new associations, gain new perspectives and delve deeper into the heart of the matter.

Clients will choose a particular button, a particular size, colour, texture to represent … whatever they want it to represent. And they will keep on selecting buttons as part of their story-telling, attaching powerful meaning and significance to each one.  The joy for us as coaches or counsellors is seeing the shift that people make when the person in front of us finally expresses what they wanted and needed to say, and, reached a new understanding.

Box of Buttons

Your humble box of buttons can be used in as many ways as you have ideas – in fact your only your limitation is your imagination and willingness to experiment.  A colleague uses buttons prior to his client’s hypnotherapy session because he finds it helps his clients explore their issue more fully and that enables him to work more deeply with them, resulting in real change. Another colleague uses buttons with her leadership cohort to help show shifts in learning through the weeks course.

In my own experience, I have used buttons to explore isolation, complex relationships, life and death, leadership conflict and much more. So, I invite you to create your own box of buttons and experiment with your clients, you’ll be amazed how it will help.

As with many coaching tools, experiencing it yourself is often the best way to know how truly transformational they can be and really understand what your clients will experience.

Creative Metaphors … help clients to get to the unconscious part without words getting in the way”. Dr Pat Williams 


Lindsey Wheeler works as a strategic sounding board and personal development coach for business leaders where they are free to express and explore thoughts, business and personal challenges.

If you want to find out more about how Lindsey uses buttons in coaching do get in touch with her.

More about ICF Core Competencies

Read more blogs from Lindsey Wheeler – “I don’t have time for this” – When TIME is your enemy