The Ecological Mind Mapping Coaching Model


A Coaching Model By Gigi Tsontos, Social Work Leaders Coach, UNITED STATES

Ecological Mind Mapping

Target Audience

Master’s Level Social Work Professionals.

  • to lead in my current role.
  • to transition to leadership
  • to support work-life balance.
  • to increase enjoyment from employment.

With the premise that we can lead from all levels of an organization, individuals wanting to learn or develop leadership skills in their current positions share the desire to engage positively in the workforce.

  1. They are the backbone of the social work profession. These positions are often entry-level to long-time working in micro, mezzo, and macro roles.
  2. Theyarelookingtotransitiontogain leadership experience. These social workers are committed, engaged, and want to make a difference, but may not feel their voices are heard.
  3. They may be feeling that they don’t have a say in the organization. They want to support practice-based evidence and planning for client outcomes.
  4. They may want to transition to leadership roles.
  5. They are looking to ensure they can take care of themselves but struggle to let go of work when at home.


  1. Age: Social workers are from 21 to 65.
  2. Gender: Social workers are historically female-led; however, the profession welcomes and supports all identities, in fact, it is a profession that is historically open to the underserved and underrepresented.
  3. Ethnicity: All ethnicities are represented but as in other professions social work aspires to represent those served more accurately.
  4. Education: Master’s Level Social Work and/or dual credential. Many are licensed in social work.
  5. Work environment: represented in schools, communities, hospitals, and non-profits of all levels.

Coaching Environment

Gigi Tsontos Coaching is online via Zoom or phone calls 1:1. This allows client access from various time zones without the difficulty of traveling or taking time out of otherwise busy careers.

CoachingModel: Ecological Mind Mapping

The Ecological Mind Mapping Model combines the ecological perspective with the mind mapping exercise to support a client’s development.

Based on the Ecological Perspective which is an

approach to social work practice that addresses the complex transactions between people and their environment. (Teater, 2014)

Utilizing the premise that each interaction whether work, school, home, family, friends, or community, impacts how a person presents in the world, how they cope, how they develop, and how they interact.

A mind mapping technique is simply a way of organizing information using mind maps. Mind maps are visual representations of ideas and concepts and can be used to brainstorm, organize, and plan projects. Mind mapping involves taking a central idea and creating a branch for each related idea. (the digital project manager, 2023)

The Ecological Mind Mapping Model provides the client with a three-step guide to support their development.

Step 1: Person in Environment

Create a genogram. On a blank sheet of paper, write your name or a symbol of yourself in the center of the page. Around it write all of the places, people, and things that are impacting your daily life. Examples: Me, Spouse, Children, Parents, School, Work, Neighborhood, Transportation, Friends, etc.  Now link these items to yourself. This can be with solid lines that show strong connections, dotted lines that provide some instability, or a combination.

Now that you have a visual of the areas of your life you have a guide to what and where to gain support or where you would like to focus.

Ask yourself a question or two below:

  1. What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to my issue?
  2. Where do I want to focus to enhance a relationship or skill?
  3. Where would I like to find solutions?
  4. Are there any areas that I didn’t anticipate on my genogram?

Step 2: Mind Map

Now take the answer to the question in Step 1 and create a mind map of the issue you would like to address. Mind maps can link in any way you like. What connects to what? Where? What’s missing? What could support you in the goal?

Step 3: Review and Bring an Issue to the Coaching Session.

Now review. What did you learn? Where do you want to start?

Repeat and update as desired.

Using the Ecological Mind Mapping Model on a Client

Client: Macro Level Social Worker, female, 50 years old, Executive Director of a Social Service Non-Profit. Presenting Concern: Imposter Syndrome. Client Success Measures: Understand where the imposter syndrome came from and how to overcome and lead.

Coaching: The client agreed to follow the coaching model and return to her next session with her feedback. She decided to take each step on separate days as a way of reviewing.

Step 1 Feedback: Genogram

The client reported that she was able to easily prepare the genogram. She highlighted the areas that were challenging. She found that when she began to look at her role in the workplace, she had similar concerns as parenthood. Did she know what she was doing?

Step 2 Feedback: Mind Map

The client created a mind map to address both topics: parenthood and work.

In MAP A Work: she focused on the team. She focused on who was around her who could support the organization, her development, and her problem-solving.

Step 3 Feedback: Review and bring an issue to coaching.

The client brought a focused question to the coaching session. Her focus was on how do I trust my team. 

Model Review:

Overall, I found that the Ecological Mind Mapping model can be a useful framework for guiding social workers as they overcome insecurities and develop skills. We used this as homework; however, I have tested this as a step-by-step process within a session. It provided us with the tools to dig deeper.

By working through each step of the model, the client can gain clarity on where she needs to focus, develop positive habits and strategies for achieving those goals, and continually update and increase their skills.

Learn How to Create Your Own Coaching Model

Your Coaching Model reflects your values,
philosophies, and beliefs and must communicate who you will coach
and the problems you will solve.
Read more about creating your coaching model


Social work practice from an ecological perspective, Teater, Barbra, 01/2014
The Digital Project Manager, 2023
Genograms Introduction, 2023

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