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The Visual Question and It’s Role in Coaching, by Dawn

Nov 29th, 2010 | By | Category: Missions Coaching - Guest Posts

What is a Visual Question?

Visual questions are a means of helping the coachee increase their self-awareness by responding to a specific question with the help of a picture. For example, the coach asks the coachee to draw a picture related to the question the coach is about to ask. The coach then asks the question and instructs the coachee to write their answers in their picture, thus making the picture a part of their answer.

One of the simplest forms of a visual question is the creation of a mind map. To create a mind map, the coach asks the coachee to write down a specific word or idea and circle it. The coachee then writes words that they associate with the main word or idea in the space around the circle.

However, visual questions may also be more elaborate. For example, if the coachee is feeling stuck, the coach might ask the client to draw a person who is stuck in quicksand. Next, the coach would instruct the client to write down the various reasons that are causing them to be stuck.

When Visual Questions are Most Useful

As with any coaching question, there are some situations that lend themselves more readily to the use of visual questions. Some of these scenarios are listed below.

When the coachee is stuck

When the coachee is stuck, he or she cannot as easily access the logical part of their brain where their answers are often located. Visual questions help solve this problem by activating the creative side of the brain, which also allows the logical side to take a break. As a result, the creative side is able to work without interference from the logical side, and therefore can more freely come up with solutions.

Visual questions are also a great means of brainstorming. As images pour freely from the coachee’s mind, solutions will often suddenly appear. This often surprises the coachee who was previously feeling stuck and without resources.

With visual and kinesthetic learners

Visual learners learn best by seeing information. Therefore, pictures help the visual learner think and process information more clearly. Seeing a picture, complete with answers, helps the visual learner cement their solutions in their mind.

Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing. Thus, the act of drawing a picture and writing down related ideas helps the kinesthetic learner more readily answer questions, process information and think through scenarios. Although they may never look back at their drawing, the simple act of doing while processing helps the kinesthetic learner remember what they have discovered.

With those who process more slowly

The process of responding to a question by drawing a picture gives the slower processer time to discover their answer. Even better, the picture the coachee creates acts as a visual prompt for them, helping them to continue processing the question throughout the week. As the coachee continues processing, they come up with a more complete solution, which is better suited to who they are.


When used appropriately, visual questions help coachees move forward in reaching their goals and attaining their dreams.

Sample Visual Questions

  • Visual: Draw a person in quicksand. Question: In the quicksand, write down the things that are causing you to be stuck in this situation.
  • Visual: Draw a line across the page. On the left end of the line draw or write in your goal. On the right end of the line draw a star, indicating the achieving of your goal. Question: On your picture write in the mile markers that will help you achieve your goal.
  • Visual: Draw a picture of your ideal situation. Question: If this picture were a puzzle, what piece or pieces of the puzzle are be missing?
  • Visual: Draw an open hand. Question: Underneath the hand write down the things you are willing to give up or let go of in order to accomplish your goal.
Dawn is a coach working in a limited access country.


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