Claim the events of your life to make yourself yours.  —Anne-Wilson Schaef

Frequently Asked Questions

Are people willing to pay top dollar for Professional Coaching services?

As Dean of Curriculum at Coach Training Alliance, and after training and mentoring many other Professional Coaches, I see the issue of fees as the most common source of questions.

Some statistics about value are already in. About 80% of large corporations use Professional Coaches to develop leadership, enhance emotional intelligence, maximize performance, and ensure success at times of significant transition. Three recent business impact studies (The Lore Institute) demonstrated a five to ten fold return on investment for money spent on Professional Coaching.

A recent survey (Manchester Consulting) of Fortune 1000 clients found the following results reported by respondents as a result of Professional Coaching:

  • 77% improved relationships with their direct reports
  • 71% improved relationships with their bosses
  • 61% noted improved job satisfaction
  • Financial return was six times the fees paid for coaching.

There are two key elements to people paying top dollar for coaching services. The first: the coach deserves it. This is met by excellent training, continued learning and earning it. The second: the coach asks for it.

Asking for it, in my experience in training and mentoring other coaches, deserves some attention.

It is up to you, the coach, to set your own prices. It will reflect what you think of yourself. Ask for less, and the world will not raise your price-people will assume this reflects your value. Ask for your full value, and you send a signal that you are worth it. Even those who turn you down respect you for your confidence, and that respect will eventually pay off in ways you might not imagine.

Charge so that you are unambivalent about working with a client. If a client pays less that you’re worth, or takes a good deal more time than others, you will be ambivalent and it will affect the quality of your work.

And remember, we are offering a model to our clients of comfort with money, of how and who someone hopes to become. We are obligated to charge a full, fair price for our services to accurately reflect value so the client has this model to emulate and get paid what they’re worth. We present money as a simple medium of exchange. Then, when clients attach complexity and emotionality to money, we can help them understand its simplicity.

How is coaching different from therapy? With advanced degrees and experience in psychotherapy, why do I need additional training to become a coach?

The ticket to entry in coaching is desire, not trauma or dysfunction. Professional Coaches focus on co-creating a client’s new, improved story rather than simply ending an old one. A Professional Coach should know how, why and when to refer to a psychotherapist. And as we coaches further define our professional identities, therapists will know how to use a coach as colleague. Both professions have a lot to offer to clients, and to each other.

Professional Coaching meets needs that people have always had, but offers a new delivery system for mentorship, accountability, partnership, co-creative work and a sense of possibility.

Although I practiced, taught, supervised and contributed to the literature of psychotherapies for 24 years, coach training and work with a mentor coach who years before transitioned from therapist was distinctly valuable preparation.

People bring varied backgrounds to professional coaching: business, mental health, publishing, education, to name a few. These perspectives each have something to offer to attract a client base. Coaching, like any other profession, relies on a unique body of information, methods, standards and practices. Training and education will always improve skills.

How do you get people to change their minds when they are convinced that they are where they are in their lives because of the way the world is?

The question points out that we ignore facts that contradict what we believe. We see only what fits a recognizable pattern on our personal radar. And that we believe not as much what we want to believe but what we expect to believe.

A senior member of a board of directors who was known for his strident positions vigorously urged the Board to take swift action on a matter at hand. As he talked more and more loudly, he rose from his seat, and as began to walk around, he punctuated his points with flailing arms. When he arrived back at his chair after having circled the room, he slammed both palms on the table, insisting, “This is what we have to do!”

Breaking the stunned silence, the chairman of the Board quietly, simply, and wisely responded, “That is one point of view.” Discussion then ensued on many other points of view.

As you encounter people with fixed beliefs, remember that change is difficult—there is always the pull of the old and the fear of the new. Recognizing someone else’s point of view can begin a meaningful discussion. Being forced to agree with it might end a possible collaboration. First, you have to be with them before they can go someplace new with you.

I am a very empathetic person. I identify too closely with situations/clients, and take many things personally. Any words of wisdom?

Empathy is to listen from inside the experience of another person without getting lost there. Empathy describes a listening perspective—a point of reference—to resonate with and understand another’s POV. Empathy is not the same as kindness, sympathy, consolation, gratification or commiseration. Empathy positions one foot in the shoe of another’s experience to understand their framework. To lose oneself in another is the antithesis of empathy.

Attunement is another aspect of empathy-and coaching-attuned to what the client is omitting, and to stick up for aspects of someone not yet activated or in awareness. An attuned listener, a coach, focuses now and across time: the client’s vision, goals, initiatives to take for each goal and the next best action for each initiative.

Two things to be particularly aware of that can jam the signal:
Remarkable similarities of background or style, where the parallel experiences make you assume you know without listening carefully.
Likewise, significant differences of background, culture or personality may require focused attention to develop common ground.

And a caveat:
Each person is always making self statements–their unique, personal experience and point of view—even when talking about someone or something else. Three people stand shoulder to shoulder and observe the same event, and each of their stories of the event will be different—self-statements of each individual’s perspective from unique life experiences.

The most common thing that gets in the way of seeing something as it truly is, is our preconception of it. The most common thing that gets in the way of listening and understanding something is trying to fix it.

How is coaching different from counseling?

Counseling and therapy are different from coaching in some distinct ways.

  • Problems vs. possibilities
    Counseling and therapy focus on fixing problems, usually rooted in the past. The patient has problems that need solving, or mental illness that needs treating. Coaching looks at the present and at the client’s future possibilities to succeed in their lives or businesses-a vision rather than a nightmare. A therapist is more an archeologist, whereas a coach is more an architect.
  • Fixing vs. growing
    A counselor or therapist is the expert who has techniques and answers. The therapist helps understand an old story; the coach coauthors a new story with the client as the expert. A coach is the collaborator, a partner who is a catalyst for growth.
  • Licensure vs. training
    Counseling and therapy require state licenses. Coaching does not, although certified training is available.

To coach is to help someone focus intention, commitment and strategy for a desired goal.

When is it appropriate for a coach to offer his/her own ideas, insight and strategies to the client?

Professional Coaches typically rely on incisive questions to guide clients to their own insights and decisions’to experience mastery without superimposing the coach’s own agenda or solutions. While a basic technique of coaching is asking powerful questions and listening deeply together for the answers, coaches apply different interventions. Asking questions and observing the process is an influential technique. But a technique shouldn’t become a rule. The principle is: what is needed to further the client’s objective and enable forward movement? Another principle in coaching: listen to your gut and pay attention to hunches that you have about your client. Common sense will inform the application of your intuition.

Clients need more than just questions, especially when they’re in new territory, without a map. In addition to powerful questions, coaches engage clients in the following ways:

  • Offer ideas and insights.
    For example, the client is afraid of not making enough money. Since fear is guide to desire, the challenge is offered,”How can you convert that fear into an intention?”
  • Strategize to achieve goals.
    Strategies include SMART (Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound), and understanding human dynamics and behavior.
  • Explain.
    Client says: “The universe is conspiring against me to present obstacles as I get more successful.”
    Coach: “When you move ahead, you are aware of bumps in the road-if you weren’t proceeding, you wouldn’t encounter those bumps.”
  • Advise.
    Some forward movement can be a simple suggestion based on the coach’s experience, or the client’s blind spot.
  • Story-bust.
    Question or challenge automatic, habitual behavior, or limiting assumptions that persists even when they don’t work.
  • Give information.
    The client may need guidance toward resources and information.
  • Regulate state of mind.
    The client learns about states of mind, and how to access which state works best for a particular task. For example, the client may need to get calm, and become grounded/centered in the present moment in order to have access to both right and left brain synthesis in focusing on an issue. Or strategize about how to build in a contemplative space before action.

Email David Krueger, MD with a question of your own.