A conversation with Barbara Teutsch
Better PhD studies through coaching
“Studying for a PhD is a challenge all its own and doctoral students have to tackle very special tasks,” says Barbara Teutsch, coordinator of the SimTech Graduate School. “It starts with every-day things, like ‘I’ve got to buckle down and start writing but can’t seem to get started’ or ‘I have to ready a presentation, but I have stage fright.’ And it ends with the big questions, like ‘what do I want to do after I earn my degree’”?
Studying for a PhD requires finding a balance
Studying for a doctorate also means finding a balance. As a doctoral student, you need to reconcile your independent scientific work on the one hand with the need to orient yourself to your thesis supervisor and the scientific community on the other hand. “To stay motivated over a period of years, carry out a project alone and for the most part autonomously – that is no small task.”
In this environment, each doctoral student is called on to find an own way. “How we handle our own PhD work in the end is a highly individual thing – and not just technically speaking.” This is where coaching can help, says Teutsch, and this is why, a teacher herself and trained coach, offers free coaching sessions to doctoral students in the SimTech graduate school framework.
Coaching: continuing education for future leaders
The coaching concept derives from the field of continuing leadership training. Nowadays, coaching is used in many fields. “It is a common misconception that it is therapy. All the coach does is to help the “coachee” improve situations and processes in his or her life and to overcome challenges. “This may just as easily involve seeming trifles – you don’t have to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown before seeking out a coach,” says Barbara Teutsch.
Coaches help activate existing potential
Coaches start with the assumption that every person carries the potential within her- or himself for finding the solution for current problems. Coaches support coachees in finding their own special resources and how to activate them. The best case coaching scenario is when the individual being coaches is also the one who solves the problem.
For Barbara Teutsch, the critical part of coaching is establishing mutual trust: “It really is essential to know that we discuss in private stays in the room and remains strictly confidential. Under no circumstances does anything from a coaching session ever get out.”