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What does a coach do? How can Best Life Coaching help me?

There are many different coaching models. But there are four common elements to most coaching models. According to Backus (2018), the standard components include:

1. The development of a coaching relationship in which the connection is associated with support, openness, curiosity, and trust.

2. Problem identification - goal identification and goal setting. In executive coaching, when setting professional or performance goals, coaches may use assessments based on organizational competencies that reflect leadership expectations. In life coaching, goals are formulated as a team, based upon the clients needs and priorities.

3. Problem-solving - use of tools, readings, strategies, and role-playing to help the client solve problems.

4. Transformational processes - different techniques and tools used in the coach-client engagement where the client starts to experience change (p. 31).

A life coach is a professional hired by the client to help them achieve an overall state of wellbeing. At Best Life Coaching, the process includes cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual realms. I meet with the client to identify goals that will help them experience greater life satisfaction. We determine the hurdles that have prevented the client from reaching their objectives in the past. I can then teach and recommend skills, an action plan, and specific behavioral steps to overcome obstacles and reach the intended goals.

Backus, C. R. (2018). The nature of the learning experiences of leadership coaches that lead to coaching competencies: A phenomenological study (Publication No. 10681890) [Doctoral dissertation, George Washington University]. Proquest Dissertations Publishing http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/ fmt:kev:mtx:dissertation&res_dat=xri:pqm&rft_dat=xri:pqdiss:10681890

What are the benefits of coaching? What differences have you seen for clients who follow through on your recommendations?

As a result of excellent coaching and the work you put in, you can expect to see many gains. Some improvements you may notice personally and in your functioning at work may include:

● Improved personal and professional relationships

● More creative ideas (innovation)

● More time (if you are a supervisor or manager) as you can give more responsibilities to team members. This time can be evident at home or in the amount of time that you now have available to spend with friends, family, or other activities outside of work

● More motivation amongst the team members or personally as seen with increased self-care, socialization, or other activities related to well-being

● Improved performance over time

● Development of immediate self-correction in the performance of complex tasks

● Increased self-awareness and insight

● Self-management

● Able to self-generate solutions (Backus, 2018, p. 35-37).

Backus, C. R. (2018). The nature of the learning experiences of leadership coaches that lead to coaching competencies: A phenomenological study (Publication No. 10681890) [Doctoral dissertation, George Washington University]. Proquest Dissertations Publishing http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/ fmt:kev:mtx:dissertation&res_dat=xri:pqm&rft_dat=xri:pqdiss:10681890

What is the difference between coaching and therapy?

As a client, you may wonder, “Do I need to see a coach or a therapist?” There are many similarities between what a coach and a therapist do. But there are also some very distinct and significant differences. These differences will help you to decide which is right for you.

Transformation Academy (2019) highlights some of the contrasts between coaching and therapy:

Regulation and Education

● Coaching is an unregulated industry. There is no oversight, and anyone can call themselves a “coach.” Coaches are not allowed to call themselves “therapists” or “counselors.” There is no special training, degree, or license that is required to start coaching.
● Therapy is a highly regulated industry. There are levels of oversight through schools, associations, and at the state and federal levels. There are stringent requirements for education, training, hours, experience, and licensure. All of the oversight and conditions are designed to protect the public.


● Though coaches use therapeutic techniques, coaching is not therapy. The focus of coaching is on the present and future. If clients have a mental health diagnosis, they need to be in treatment with a therapist concurrently. As a coach, if a client is a danger to themselves or others, has suicidal ideation, or cannot function, they need to be referred to a therapist.

● Therapists focus on the past, present, and future with their clients. The focus of therapy is generally to help clients function to their highest capacity. Each client in treatment (if being paid for by insurance) has a mental health diagnosis which can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).


● Clients who are not appropriate for coaching: 
○ Inconsistent, incoherent, or illogical in their thought processes.
○ Irregular or poor decision-making.
○ Inappropriate attachment to the coach.
○ Irresponsible - missing appointments, not following through on agreed-upon action steps.
○ Explosive or hostile reactions to insights or recommendations (Transformation Academy, 2019). 

As a psychologist, clients who present all of the above issues are still appropriate for therapy. These things become part of the treatment process. These issues or concerns are examined to determine their origins and where they fit into a person’s “life puzzle.” They are understood to serve a purpose or function that may not be helpful in the client’s life any longer. Skills are developed to help the client feel that they can cope with symptoms and function better. They can then connect better in relationships, reach their goals, and live the most meaningful and satisfying life that they can.

Clients who are not appropriate for therapy, where therapists are required by law and our ethics code to report, include clients, cases, or situations when:

● A client states that they are going to kill themselves (the plan and intent is imminent)
● A client states that they are going to kill someone else (the plan and intent is imminent, and the person is identifiable)
● Incidents of child abuse, elder abuse, or dependent adult abuse

If you or someone you know needs help, there are many options. If danger is imminent, call 911, go to your local emergency room, or call your local police department. Many cities have a crisis hotline if you have questions. There are many 24-hour hotlines available if you or someone you know just needs to talk to someone. Nobody has to do this alone. Nobody should.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596 Transformation Academy. (2019, Jun 3). Life coaching vs. therapy (Life coaching ethics) (Life coaching 101 4/6) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO1t7Y0Lz7Q

What should I expect from my first coaching session?

The first couple of coaching sessions are known as the “engagement” stage. During this initial stage, one of the most essential facets to determine is whether or not the coach and client are suitable matches. Just as in other dyads, sometimes the connection is just not there. It is critical for the client to feel comfortable and safe to be open, honest, and succeed.

The client should feel heard. This happens when the coach can actively listen. The coach makes an effort to understand what the client believes are the issues or problems they are struggling with. The coach attempts to discern what the client wants to change and what has been getting in their way. When clients feel genuinely heard and understood, it helps establish trust, safety, and rapport.

Often, clients need to clarify if what they are struggling with is something they can change. If not, it is something that they need to accept. If it is something that they can change, they must understand what has been holding them back.

It is also essential for coaches to assess clients for stress. In executive coaching, particularly, executives are often in denial about the amount of stress they are under and may also see it necessary to succeed (Rook, Hellwig, Florent-Treacy, & de Vries, 2019). Coaches look for cues, namely what clients do to cope with job demands and whether or not these coping skills appear to help or hinder their functioning. Often through questioning, clients can view things from a different perspective. They may then see that living with this high amount of stress is not necessary or helpful but is actually very harmful in the long run. Coaches can help their clients develop the skills and tools needed to better deal with stress. In the first session, it should be clear what the client wants to get out of the coaching process. This should be stated at the outset, so it is clear to both parties when the coaching work is completed. Of course, goals can change, be added, or transition, but it is essential to have a general path to where the work is headed.

In the first session or two, coaches and clients will determine the frequency of sessions and the approximate length of time it will take to complete the goals discussed. This is to be put in a contract to be signed by the end of the second session. If the client is an executive coaching client, it is essential to discuss including their manager or supervisor in the coaching process. Generally, quarterly meetings to discuss progress on goals are an acceptable target. The reason that this is vital to the process is that any changes that the executive coaching client makes needs to be accepted by their supervisor and in alignment with the organization’s values, priorities, goals, and mission statement 

Rook, C., Hellwig, T., Florent-Treacy, E., & de Vries, M. K. (2019). Workplace stress in senior executives: Coaching the “uncoachable.” International Coaching Psychology Review, 14(2), 7–23.

How does life coaching work? What do life coaches usually recommend?

Life coaching works by first identifying the goals that the client wants to achieve. These can be short-term or immediate goals, such as in the next few weeks or months, or long-term, such as years to life goals. The life coach also helps the client identify what has been stopping them from achieving these goals in the past.

Once the obstacles to achieving goals have been identified, the client is given strategies, tools, and homework to learn and practice. Often these goals will be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals (Cook, 2009). The reason that these components of goals are paramount:

● Specific - it is evident for both the client and the coach what the client aims to achieve.

● Measurable - this allows the client and coach to have a clear way of knowing whether or not the client is making progress towards their goals or has achieved their goals.

● Achievable - if a client’s goals are too large, they may need to break them down into manageable steps. These steps will give them a clear action plan that will lead them down the road to success. We want them to have achieved success to feel that they are making progress rather than not meeting their goals and getting discouraged.

● Realistic - we need to gauge whether or not the client has the time, energy, resources, etc., to accomplish the goals we set out. Again, we want the client to feel engaged and motivated as they progress rather than stagnant or frustrated.

● Timebound is an essential part of goal setting because it gives the client a time frame or reference point about when they will accomplish this goal and puts the plan into context.

Now we can set the next goal or see what steps we need to take to make this goal happen in the allotted time.

Setting SMART goals is helpful for clients to feel that they are making progress, and it is also beneficial for clients to have a concrete plan to examine what happened or hindered them if they cannot achieve it. In these cases, the coach and client review the options and then make adjustments to the plan. Through the life coaching process of identifying goals, obstacles, and achievement of objectives, the client develops a clear path for life satisfaction. They can achieve greater connectedness, meaning, and purpose and a sense of free will and independence. For clients who are genuinely doing the work, they feel that they can chart their course. When an unexpected stressor happens, they feel confident and capable of overcoming it and see the stressor as an opportunity for learning and growth.

How often do people see their life coach usually? 

In the first session or two, it is determined what goals the client is trying to achieve. This clarifies the work to be done as well as the general path to get to the target. The coach and client can then discuss a reasonable, agreeable, realistic amount of time between sessions to meet each goal. The time between sessions obviously should not be too short or too long as the client needs enough time to achieve the goal without feeling undue pressure and not too much time to make steady progress.

Generally, in the beginning, there is a shorter amount of time between sessions, often one to three weeks. The shorter time between sessions ensures that the client understands concepts, feels motivated, and makes steps towards their goal. The most challenging time to make changes is in the very beginning. I often compare it to trying to get a big rock rolling. Once it is moving, though, it is a matter of maintenance. So once the client is making steady progress, the sessions can be decreased to every two to four weeks, then four to eight weeks, etc. Each client’s situation is unique, and progress is not always linear. If unpredicted situations or experiences happen, these can always be processed and understood to gain a deeper understanding of oneself and used as an opportunity for growth.

What do I need to do or not do while I am seeing my life coach? 

The most important thing to do while seeing your life coach is honest with them and yourself. The most important thing not to do while seeing your life coach is to be dishonest with them and yourself. Honesty may seem obvious, but it is genuinely not as straightforward as it may seem.

First, the client must be honest with themselves. Being honest with oneself is also not always easy to do. Sometimes the coach can help point out inconsistencies in beliefs and values vs. subsequent actions or behaviors. Often clients employ defense mechanisms such as a rationalization, i.e., “Well, it isn’t that bad” or “Well, if only they wouldn’t have done X, then I wouldn’t have done Y,” to justify the behavior. Even more challenging is being fully honest in how or what we think about ourselves or others. Increasing awareness and creating objectivity are keys to viewing ourselves, our actions, and our thoughts from a fresh and honest viewpoint.

For obvious reasons, if a client is not honest with their life coach, the work can only go so far. The coach is only able to work with what the client brings them. Ultimately, the client is doing a disservice if they cannot be fully honest with the coach. If there is something within the relationship that the client feels uncomfortable with preventing them from being fully honest and disclosing, the coach must discuss this dynamic., For example, if the client is concerned that if they reveal that they are drinking more than what they would like and are worried that if they tell their coach this, they will be judged by the coach, this must be discussed between the two of them. They may have experienced judgmental thoughts or comments from the coach, or the client is judging themselves and projecting this onto the coach. This projection may be from other life experiences of having been judged when being vulnerable and needing support.

When a client withholds information, usually they have difficulty trusting the other person in the relationship. They may have had many significant experiences of betrayals of trust and a lack of safety. They also may be experiencing deep shame or humiliation that is extremely difficult to discuss, let alone face, look at, and experience once again. Clients not only need to feel safe and trusting, but they also need to understand the benefit of doing this. In this experience of disclosure, examining, and a corrective emotional experience through support, coaching, realignment in behavior, thoughts, and feelings, the client can experience themselves and the world in a deeper and more meaningful way.