How to find the right coach or consultant for you and get more value from your sessions without creating more trauma or drama in the process.
In Part 1 we looked at what you need to ask yourself before you find someone to work with (among other things!) In Part 2 we’ll look at the following:
How to tell the difference between Coaching, Counseling, & Consulting so you can pick the right person at the right time for your specific need
Who is responsible for results? Some say the professional, others say the client. What really matters?
Self Assessment questions to get clarity
A note about knowing what’s best for you, the client:
Counseling (Psychotherapy) professionals are taught how to assess clients and find out whether or not they are ready to “do the work” necessary for healing/getting results. Perhaps some coaching and intuitive consulting programs out there do as well, but the ones I’ve participated in gave it only a cursory mention, if at all. Why is this important? Because I’ve sat in rooms where coaches are doing “coaching” with clients who really need psychotherapy and it is even worse when the coach says to the other clients (who have coaching businesses) in the room “You can do this too with your own clients.” (And yes, this really does happen out there).
The general unwritten/unspoken consensus in the world of coaching, and big events or online launches is that “if you have money and you choose to spend it on my program, you are clearly ready (and capable) to do the work.”
Sign on the dotted line.
While it IS changing, it’s important to acknowledge that we are still under a largely medical model which says the professional (i.e., coach/consultant) knows best and the client is not supposed to question the coach if something doesn’t fit for them. Again, I’m not addressing the exceptional coaches, counselors, and consultants who work with this power differential in a way that honors both themselves and their clients. I’m speaking of the general agreement we have in our society about laypeople (clients) and experts (i.e., coaches) who create contracts with clients who may or may not be ready or even a good fit for their program because there is no formal assessment being done (most “strategy session” calls do NOT count).
Even if a coach’s whole message is centered around empowering their clients, there are coaches and clients who engage in these contracts without understanding the power & projection dynamics (called transference & countertransference in psychotherapy) involved and when it doesn’t work out, there is blaming & shaming that can happen on the part of both parties which just adds to the trauma and drama.
As I said in Part 1 of this series:
I believe that well-informed clients who know themselves and trust their own intuition are better consumers and they get more out of their business & marketing programs. They will also offer higher quality services to their own clients.
This benefits ALL of us.
Here’s some information you may or may not already be aware of…
The difference between Coaching, Counseling, & Consulting
While there is some overlap, there are some clear distinctions. The following descriptions are simple ones I found on the USDA website and I added a little of my own clarification as well:
“The Coach’s primary attention is on strengthen the client’s wisdom, thought processes, and directed action toward the future, based on the client’s self-identified agenda. A supportive and non-judgmental environment is created in which to inquire, challenge, and stimulate critical thinking and new ways of being, thinking, and acting, often resulting in new behaviors applicable to the client’s whole life.”
At the time of this publication, there is no governing body, no laws, no formal code of ethics, or restrictions on who can call themselves a coach and how to conduct themselves and what they are “qualified” to address with their clients and what is “hands off” for lack of a better way of saying it. The best coaches I have worked with both professionally and as colleagues have had some formal certification that is longer than a weekend workshop and includes supervised (or at least documented) client sessions with feedback from a supervisor or instructor. Coaches tend to ask questions that evoke the answer from within the client. In other words, the client knows best – but the coach is there to help them access this knowing. Note that the focus tends to be on the future especially with regards to behavior and critical thinking.
“The Counselor’s focus in or addressing a personal issue with [the] client, often related to emotions, attitude or behavior. Counseling therapy may include asking thought-provoking questions similar to those used in coaching. The emphasis however is on applying principles of mental health, holistic lifestyle, psychology and human development to address wellness, personal growth, behavioral change or emotional well-being.”
While it looks a lot like the coaching as described above, a clear distinction is that counselors, therapists, psychologists, etc. have had a minimum of two years of post-graduate schooling for a Master’s level, and have had supervised client sessions training in a clinical setting with a number of different client populations. In order to get their license, it is approximately 2 more years of documented and supervised clinical hours, a board exam and continuing education requirements including ethics courses every 1-2 years, depending on the state granting licensure. Counselors, or psychotherapists are trained to work with trauma and there is quite a bit of focus on past experiences (i.e., family of origin) as they influence and relate to the client’s perception, beliefs, behavior, and emotional state in the present. There is also a focus (for better or for worse) in therapy on addressing what is “wrong” with the client, and diagnosing problems through the lens of the medical model focusing on alleviation of symptoms and change of behavior through use of treatment plans.
“A Consultant’s primary attention is on helping an individual achieve personal or organizational results through the application of their specific expertise where they advise the client on the best course of action for achieving desired goals. Consultants may or may not also be charged with transferring knowledge or a skill set to their client.”
In addition to having extensive experience in a given field, consultants can also possess a natural genius or gift in certain areas (detail-oriented, numbers, communication, creativity, productivity, etc.) these are things that can’t be “learned”, they are part of the person’s “blueprint” or design. Consultants can also be Intuitives or Psychics who are sharing their gift or expertise of insight with their clients based on spiritual guidance in order to inform the client of a broader more spiritual viewpoint and/or help guide the client to the best course of action both personally and professionally. They may also teach their clients how to develop and trust their own intuition or other natural skills.
Personally, if I’m going to even be remotely open to letting someone into my psyche, I want to know they have the skills and experience, and tools to go deep in there with me – and guide me out too. How about you?
Who is responsible for the results?
Assuming you’ve found a suitable coach, counselor, or consultant or even if you are still on the lookout, it’s time to look at who is ultimately responsible for the results.
Remember what I said in Part 1: When you know yourself, (your unique elemental design, your soul design, and how to listen to your own intuition) it brings clarity and confidence. It also makes getting results or making changes easier too. Having your coach or consultant be aware of your unique elemental design really helps. In addition to my own coaching clients, I’ve had clients who are working with other coaches see me for Human + Soul Design readings and consultation. I then share the results with their coach to let them know how best to work with our shared client.
This type of cross-consulting is done often in psychotherapy. The competitive coaching business isn’t as open to cross-consulting. I still see quite a bit of “I’m a one-stop shop” marketing of services and coaching programs when there isn’t the training to back it up (which brings us back to delineating between coaching, counseling & consulting as described above).
It’s been fun to see this starting to change and I love collaborating with other coaches and consultants to each do what we do best and help our clients really get the most out of their investment. The client gets better results because they are getting tailored coaching, and the coach gets to look like a rockstar because their client actually gets the promised results and STAYS engaged with their program because they are getting what they truly need. It’s a win-win!
I think you get that knowing yourself and having your coach or consultant know you is priority #1 in getting results. Whose responsible for those results?
You, as the client, are ultimately responsible for how you use (or don’t use) the information and healing you receive during your sessions – whether it’s coaching, counseling or intuitive consultation. This is true because only you as the client can take action on your behalf. Only you can take the information given to you in a session and either use it for personal & soul growth or validation of your fear and inability to take action.
That’s the bottom line, but I have to add this caveat because we live in an interconnected, energetic world…
Even though the client is ultimately responsible for the choices he/she makes it’s essential to recognize that any professional relationship is at it’s core just that: a relationship, and to put all the responsibility on one party because something isn’t working (whether it’s the client or coach placing blame) misses the sacred interaction that happens between the two parties – it comes from a scared perspective and a defensive “It’s their fault I’m not getting results!” or “He/she didn’t want it bad enough.”
Sometimes it’s just not a good fit. End of story.
Sometimes the person bought the program under the influence of dopamine (see Part 1) and has no real commitment to honoring the contract because she was choosing it out of fear or some other intense emotion during a large event designed to create that emotional state, or during a high pressure “strategy session”.
Sometimes there are deeper issues that create the resistance and a deeper exploration of that resistance is needed.
And sometimes, the suggestions being made by the coach (or clinician, or consultant) just don’t fit for the client. They go against the client’s own inner knowing. The reason I bring this up is because I have seen and heard the “expert” or coach being so attached to their own “system” or the way things work for them, that they don’t actually know how to help it work for others.
One of the psychiatric research projects I worked on years ago used Motivational Interviewing as the intervention protocol. What I learned from that experience is that resistance on the part of the client is not totally their “problem” it is a dynamic dance between client & practitioner.
This dynamic and energetic dance between coach and client is an entire discussion that is something I will be covering in an upcoming training for coaches & consultants (stay tuned!) Suffice to say, there are many levels of healing and transformation that can be addressed when the resistance is looked at as a two-way street. Remember, we are more energetically connected than we think we are!
This whole article series came about because of a conversation I had with one of my clients. I’ll call her Kelly. She inspired me to share this information with you based on her questions: “Do I deserve this?” and “Is this legitimate information?” during one of our sessions. While hers is a unique situation, it reminded me of all the other conversations I had with clients, friends, colleagues, and even my own experience of the power each of us has, whether we are clients or professionals, to influence one another and the results we get through our intention, expectations and the energy we bring to our interactions. It also reminded me of the inherent power differential between client and professional, that must be acknowledged and honored, and when appropriate – questioned – in order for breakthroughs to happen…
Kelly shared with me that her psychologically & emotionally abusive mother (who had been abused herself as a child) told Kelly that the reason they had so many issues was because she [mom] had had a past life reading and learned that the roles had been reversed in a previous lifetime: She [mom] and been abandoned by her own mom [who was Kelly] in that past life.
Now, that may be true, and I actually have no issue, per se, with that information. I’ve seen and heard even stranger things in my 25+ years working as an intuitive, clinical diagnostician, psychotherapist, medium, and past life/ soul therapist. What I DO have issue with is that Kelly’s mother used that information to justify her mistreatment of Kelly and explain away her own behavior rather than using this insight for forgiveness and a doorway to healing. Furthermore, it left my client wondering for years if maybe she really DID deserve this mistreatment and also wondering if this information was even legit until we had a conversation about it.
“Is that the practitioner’s fault” you may be asking?
No, not entirely. Obviously the client (Kelly’s mom) is responsible for her actions and beliefs – that said, there are practitioners, coaches, doctors, healers, and even trained professionals with licenses out there who are negatively influencing HOW their client’s receive & perceive the information (I’m sure unknowingly) simply by the means in which they deliver the information and the energy behind the delivery due to their own filters (i.e., personal experiences, wounds, beliefs, expectations, level of professional experience, etc.).
These practitioners can contribute to the trauma/drama cycle when they:
- don’t assess whether or not their client is a good fit for their services
- are coming from a stance or point of view that is “scared” (ego & fear-based: “there is something wrong with my client or her situation and it needs to be fixed”) vs. “sacred” (spirit & Love-based: “all is well and there is room for a new choice here, what is it?”).
Kelly’s mother had great opportunity to receive that information about the past life with her daughter and choose to see the sacred viewpoint of it, practice forgiveness of herself and her daughter (at soul-level) and perhaps even forgiveness of her own parents in this lifetime. She did not take that opportunity. She chose to use that information as justification of her abusive behavior, believing that she was a victim vs. seeing the sacredness in the whole situation from a soul level–beyond ego, beyond right & wrong, and finally choose to interact with her daughter in a different way.
In other words, her little voices got the reading, and used the information to justify their position. There was nothing wrong with the information, just how it was used by the client. She was so stuck in the “human” point-of-view (POV), that a soul POV wasn’t even accessible to her.
Perhaps it would have been better for Kelly’s mom to be in therapy for some time before seeking spiritual help, perhaps not. What I do believe is that if your ego is committed to protecting your wound (we all have at least one) at all costs, or your emotions are really volatile, that is the place to begin and therapy can be really helpful in untying some of those knots in a way that doesn’t cause more trauma or confusion.
I have referred clients to other practitioners who were clearly not ready emotionally to take on a spiritual perspective – their commitment to the wound was bigger than their commitment to the healing.
The key word in all of this is CHOICE.
When you know who is making the choices within you (i.e., little voices of fear) or sacred Inner Voice, then you can consciously choose empowering, healing, and integrative behavior. When your decisions are largely unconscious or emotionally based on a moment to moment roller coaster of feelings vs. emotional clarity, it’s really damn hard to stick with your conscious choices and act accordingly. This can be learned though! This discernment can be learned and practiced and integrated – AND the bonus: things you felt like you had to “fix” fall away. They become non-issues.
If you focus on making more choices based on valuing yourself and your authentic sacred Truth you’ll get better results all around.
Basically, if you don’t listen to yourself or trust yourself or value what you know to be soul-True (not your ego-truth), it doesn’t matter what ANY coach, consultant, or counselor tells you, you won’t get it and you won’t choose to do the things that show yourself that you value yourself.
We are all always doing the best we can in the moment AND we are either coming from our lower-vibrational “scared” state (some call it the egoic state); or we are perceiving and choosing from our higher vibrational “sacred” state and orienting our attention to the information we are receiving and the goals or intentions we may have towards a positive, expansive, growth path.
Like we saw with Kelly’s mom above: who is purchasing this reading, program, coaching, counseling, etc.? Is it your wounded little voices, or your sacred Inner Voice? (And sometimes it’s a combination of both!)
It calls for discernment: Are you feeding your little voices that want to be right, that just want an answer that “makes sense” that is logical and fits within a paradigm that most people accept as true? Or are you willing to receive the answer that resonates deeply and rings true with your Inner Voice?
Are you willing to make new choices and change your behavior based on this information NO MATTER WHAT is the popular opinion, or logical, or fits in with your emotional state of the day?
Side Note: Sometimes the ego (or fear) needs to know it’s safe before it can handle bigger soul truths, simply because the interference and white noise of fear just twists the sacred information around to fit it’s small and constricted agenda or viewpoint. AND sometimes a person needs to leave the past trauma behind and focus on where they are going because they’ve already done a lot of therapeutic work, and this is where it is helpful to have someone who can help you assess where you are on that continuum.
All that said, ultimately…
The coaching or advice you receive is only as beneficial to you as the choices YOU make as a result of knowing it.
I may have the most brilliant insight with and for a client, but ultimately if she can’t take it and use it, it’s just that: a brilliant insight with no practical or grounded application. (And that bugs the hell out of me!) I always ask myself: Can this person actually receive what I’m sharing and take action on it? Do they need something else first? Do they know what they need?
Here are some self assessment questions to help you discern what you need…
Ask yourself the following:
Who invested in my current coach or program? Was it my scared little voices, or my Inner Voice? (My reptile brain or my soul?)
Who (or what) do I blame for my lack of results?
Does my coach really know ME? (Do I really know me?)
Is there a pattern in my resistance? Has it shown up with other coaches or programs too, or is this unique to this coach/counselor/consultant?
What do I KNOW that I’ve been unwilling to admit that I know because I’m afraid it would upset my coach (or others).
Do I stay because I’m committed, or because I have signed a contract and I feel obligated, OR because I don’t want to look bad or feel left out.
Do I feel like my coach (or counselor) can really guide me in the deep work that I know I need? Can I still work with this person and seek outside help?
Join me in part 3 where we’ll look at:
How to know if your coach, counselor/therapist, or intuitive consultant is “legit” and your rights as a client