One of the things that I listen for when I coach is what I call the “missing experience,” an important, life-enhancing experience that is absent for the client. What I mean by that is, the experience itself has yet to take place in their nervous system and body--so they don’t know what it actually feels like.

A few years ago, I had a missing experience that changed my life. After my wife pointed out a mistake that I had made in our checkbook, I felt--to my own amazement--a feeling of love (rather than shame) flow through me for making the error. It was a magical moment for me, with powerful repercussions. Soon after, I noticed that I was participating more fully in my life instead of holding back. I now had a felt-sense that I was lovable, even when I made a mistake.

I was working with a client recently who was having a difficult time coming up with what she wanted to create in her life. After listening to her, I said, “I’m wondering if a missing experience for you is allowing yourself to actually want something.”

There was silence on the line. She took her first deep breath of the session, then another. After a few moments, she said “thank you” and told me that for the first time she was feeling--as a profound tingling in both her wrists--the possibility of allowing herself to want. Up until that moment, it had been a missing experience for her.

Clients are often unaware of or unable to articulate their missing experience. You don’t have to be psychic to spot it and offer it to them as feedback. Just look for what’s missing in any situation that they’re concerned about. For example, a client may be complaining about not having enough time in their life. You might say, “I’m wondering if a missing experience for you is having plenty of time to do everything you want to do?”

When we can name a client’s missing experience, the possibility of having the experience becomes real for them. They often relax noticeably within seconds. Sometimes they break into laughter or burst into tears.

Other times, what you name is such a missing experience for them that they won’t even hear you say it. Or they’ll ask you to repeat it several times because it seems almost unfathomable to them.

Once clients are familiar with the concept, you can simply ask, “What’s the missing experience for you in all of this?” The moment a client becomes conscious of a missing experience, their nervous system shifts to allow for the experience itself.

I often invite clients to breathe and move with their missing experience--and to say it out loud--until they have a felt-sense of it in their body. When a missing experience starts to live in the client’s body it starts to live in every other area of their life.

With a little practice, clients are able to explore any troublesome life situation and discover the missing experience that can lead them to a positive outcome. They also learn how to assist other people in discovering their own missing experiences--a skill which can transform their relationships at home and at work.

Sometimes when I name what I think might be a missing experience for a client they’ll say, “Oh no, I know what that’s like“ and speak of a time in their life when they experienced the thing I had named. This is powerfully effective too. They are remembering and bringing the experience to life in their nervous system again.

For us to effectively coach clients in identifying and having their missing experiences, we must be willing to uncover and experience our own. This way, we become a space in which missing experiences are discovered and integrated in ourselves and our clients. Whenever a coach and client both engage in this on-going process, their relationship becomes an exciting dance of each person’s ability to experience something new.

Often the success of the whole coaching relationship rests on making real a fundamental missing experience for the client: to express their full creativity, to love themselves and others, to be challenged, to take responsibility for their life, to be listened to consciously, to follow their own rhythm, to be accepted for all of who they are. As clients identify and bring into being their missing experiences in and outside of the coaching relationship, they naturally move forward with their lives.

The punchline is this: when we or the client can name their missing experience, it’s no longer missing. We can then assist the client in taking simple action steps in the session and beyond that allow him or her to continue experiencing and integrating their “missing experience.” Naming and having a missing experience can shift your client, you and and your coaching relationship to a new level of harmony and creative action.

Author's Bio: 

Since 1995, Gregory Newman, M.S. ( has coached individuals and couples in body-centered skills that have made it easier for their lives, relationships and careers to blossom. He coaches over-the-phone and in-person and can be reached at 608-274-6962 or