Visual techniques that deepen coaching conversations: using the new CCS cards with ICF in the US


Ellen Moran

July 9, 2017 6:15 pm

Guest blog by Ellen Moran PhD

For the past few years my passion has been to find ways to help teams collaborate for innovation in their workplaces. When I was asked to deliver a workshop at a recent International Coach Federation (ICF) meeting in St Louis, I decided to introduce them to the new CCS cards and to demonstrate how they could easily integrate visual images into any kind of coaching engagement to enhance the effectiveness of both seasoned and novice coaches.

In my description to promote the workshop theme to participants, I stated that most of our coaching engagements rely on exchanging ideas through the spoken word. However, disciplines such as Art Therapy have long used visual imagery to draw out clients’ “tacit” forms of knowing — knowledge that is understood, but is unspoken and implicit.

Furthermore, a frequent challenge in coaching is that coachees can tacitly know and feel certain things but not have, or cannot find, the words to describe what they know and feel. Accessing the tacit knowledge we all have, gently opens the gates into deeper conversations and can be a wellspring for creativity.

Introducing coaches to the new CCS

In this session coaches had the direct experience of using CCS jumbo cards, vision packs and stickers for coaching others, self-coaching and working with teams.
I launched with a favorite ice-breaker — swap and share. Participants received a random jumbo card and used it to prompt what it represented about some feature of them or their life. With each introduction, they swapped cards and then had to find something new to add to their description.

Afterward these coaches commented that the cards helped them break from their usual “scripts” and access unique aspects of themselves. It primed them to anticipate that this was not going to be business as usual.

Next I had them break into coaching pairs and chose a topic on which to be coached. The exercise began very simply. Each person chose three cards to describe the current state of their challenge and placed them face down. Then they looked through the remaining cards for three images to describe how they wanted things to be in the future.

In turn, the person being coached turned over each card and was helped by the coach to probe the meaning in each card — present and future. After exploring both, the coach framed questions to create insights on how they would transition from one reality to the other.

The coaches commented:

  • the cards created a deep understanding of what they thought and felt
  • they kept them focused on the issue rather than wandering to side topics
  • the clarity from going deeply into the future state made it easier to think of solutions.

With this experience, it was easy to describe different ways the images could be used in a variety of group coaching scenarios — each in their own context.

At the end of the session, the coaches were thrilled to learn that on behalf of CCS Corporation, I was gifting them a vision pack, template and sticker sheet for their personal client engagements.

Thank you Leonie and Craig for so generously supporting this impactful program. We were proud to be the first group in the US to use the new CCS images.


About Ellen Moran, PhD, PCC

Ellen is the principal at Leadership Dialogues. She is a business psychologist, ICF certified executive coach, facilitator and speaker. She works with leaders and their teams, both nationally and internationally, to create collaborative conversations, cultures and work climates. She uses an array of assessments, processes, concepts and tools that customize the path to outstanding results. She is particularly interested in using concepts and methods that are scientifically based, yet engaging and accessible. A primary focus is equipping leaders to spark employees’ creativity and connection to the business mission and purpose.



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