Coaching Blog

4 Reasons It's Harder for Psychotherapists to Transition to Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Therapist to Coach

Written by Julia Stewart

I've worked with thousands of coaches in the decade, or so, that I've been training coaches and most of them think they already know how to coach before they get training. That's true only in about 1% of cases.

That 1% applies to psychotherapists, counselors, social workers and other "helping professionals", too. People from these backgrounds can make terrific coaches, but usually they need to unlearn a few things and unlearning often takes longer than learning from scratch.

A story: One day, a member of our Certified Coach Training Program, a licensed psychotherapist, used a therapy technique to extract some info from a resistant client during a practice coaching session in class. He got the tidbit he was after, but the client was insulted and shut down the whole session. His classmates were likewise offended. I had a WTF moment, listening to this travesty, but the coach seemed to think he'd done something clever!

Lesson #1: You NEVER have permission to practice therapy on a coaching client. They are high-functioning and you'd better fully respect that. Use a therapy technique and you will destroy the trusted relationship you need to coach them well - and you'll be violating professional ethics, and possibly the law, as well.

Another story: I worked for years with a psychotherapist whose communication style was serious, cerebral, and analytical. It was perfectly suited to the type of therapy she did, but it hurt her coaching sessions and she had a real challenge learning an effective coaching style to qualify for IAC certification. When she finally achieved it, I literally had tears in my eyes!

Lesson #2: Coaching is light. A big part of what we do is validate the client. It sounds easier than it is for a lot of coaches, but the goal is for the client to be resourceful, so serious, cerebral, and analytical won't cut it.

A third story: I worked for a while with a counselor who had trouble transitioning to coaching. Whenever she got stuck, she asked the client how they felt: "How do you feel?...How do you feel, now?...How do you feel, now?" Argh! I'm pretty sure this wouldn't be great counseling, but I can tell you with authority that constantly focusing on the client's feelings is lousy coaching!

Lesson #3: Coaches don't heal people's feelings. We don't ignore them either, but they are an adjunct to the conversation, not the main topic. It's far better to ask a more specific question, such as, "You don't sound excited when you talk about that goal. What's up with that?"

Final story: I had a former child psychologist show up to a live certification event, but each time she coached, her clients (fellow participants, who were coaches and open to the process) got irritated and shut down. Hmmm, what's up with THAT? Answer: she communicated with her coaching clients in a voice that may have been appropriate for frightened children: soft, gentle and high pitched. In other words, she was talking baby talk to her clients. Ugh. No wonder they were irritated!

Lesson #4: You probably wouldn't use baby talk with your clients, but a communication style that worked for you, as a therapist, may still undermine your coaching. In fact, it may be a train wreck. And you might assume your clients are the problem, rather than your communication style, if you don't get feedback from a good coach trainer, because resistant coaching clients act a lot like therapy clients who have issues: mistrusting, closed mouthed, uncooperative, etc. 

Don't hobble your transition into coaching. Get training on coaching communication and make sure you get lots of in-class practice and feedback from experts. Otherwise, you'll repeat the problems above, or worse.

Better yet, if you want to coach and you're just getting started, you may want to skip the psychology degree and just get coach training, instead. You'll save a ton of money and time.

Get Certified Coach Training

Topics: professional coach, become a coach, Coach Training Programs, Certification Practicum, Certified Coach Training, psychotherapy, IAC, Certification Prep

New IAC Certified Coach Tells How She Did It

Posted by Julia Stewart

Jan O'Brien, IAC-CCJan O'Brien, IAC-CC, is the latest coach that we have helped get certified.

I talked to Jan by phone yesterday, because I knew our readers would be curious about how she did it and what it was like. Jan is one of the 25% of coaches whose applications are passed by the IAC Certifiers. She's also one of an even smaller number of coaches who pass on the first try. I wasn't surprised to hear that, because Jan is a wonderful coach. And as I said in our interview, it's a big accomplishment and now she's a member of 'the club'!

What follows are a few excerpts from our conversation and then the entire 23-minute recording, so you can listen in. There also is a link at the bottom to a new SCM program called, Certified Coach: Master What the Certifiers Are Looking For.

Disclaimer: Jan says some extremely nice things about School of Coaching Mastery  and of course, she was saying them to the owner of the school, so take it with a grain of salt if you like, but I believed her. ;-)

On what it means to her to be an IAC Certified Coach now: ‘Profound meaning to me. Professionally that makes a big difference in the coaching business. I'm an IAC-CC and it's wonderful to put that after my name. But knowing that I stayed with it that. I was committed and it was what I really wanted and I'm absolutely passionate about it!'

Her background and how she got into coaching: ‘I'm an intercultural trainer and consultant, cultural orientation training. Originally I'm from the UK and am now living in Houston, Texas. I came into coaching via my coach who is a totally astounding and wonderful coach, called Mattison Grey. I just was so impressed and so assisted by being coached. I thought, Wow this might be a really amazing job to do!'

On what she learned while preparing for certification: ‘I found that going through your certification course was, my experience of person development, was very profound, more than I could have imagined. It seemed to get deeper and deeper and deeper. And that's my own experience...I want to do that, anyway. It also put me on the fast track for that personal development. So that's a very significant piece for me.

I found the instruction to be absolutely excellent, classes with you and Natalie. They were very well facilitated and you both held us in the highest respect even when we were struggling. And it's not easy! There was so much more to this!

I had to hold onto the stair rails very tightly at times. And it was through those challenging times that I so appreciated everybody, the instructors as well as the other people in the class.'

On IAC grading: ‘Challenging. Very high standards. You don't get away with anything, and not that I was trying to get away with anything, but even the masteries I thought I had really gotten well in the recordings. Everything is thoroughly sliced and diced and of course also very honoring...That was little surprising only because I didn't know what to expect.'

Advice for coaches who want to get certified: ‘The practicums are extremely helpful in getting the feedback you need. In addition...I personally have been working with a group of wonderful coaches here in Houston in a study group. That's been absolutely wonderful.
I would also recommend that to get ones own coach whilst you're working on it. There might be things that come up...old deep-seated fears...working with a coach to remove some of the blocks that come up.'

It's an absolutely just glorious feeling!'

Listen to the entire recording here:

Topics: Coach Certification, How to Become a Certified Coach, Mattison Grey, Certification Practicum, Become a Masterful Coach, IAC, certified coach

The Evolution of Coach Certification

Posted by Julia Stewart

Certified Coach LogoThe Certification Preparation course at the University of Houston's Executive Coaching Institute last weekend was a transformative event - not just for the participants, but for Mattison and me! Twelve coaches spent 24 hours together over three days, teasing out the meaning of "great coaching" and courageously stepped up to the plate again and again. It takes heart to do that and when you bring together fearlessness, generocity and a love of coaching, you get magic.

Mattison and I are recovering from our writer's cramp and are just now fully realizing how big an impact this event has had on us. It's still just sinking in.

A minor downer is an email I just received from a former client who is an absolutely brilliant coach. She just got her certification results back from IAC and they didn't pass her. She scored above 80% on both sessions, but too low on one Proficiency. Bummer! She'll have to submit one more recording.

The thing that bugs me is that I know another fantastic coach who had the same experience recently - and same Proficiency! I asked to listen to her two recordings and from what I heard, I would have been thrilled to pass her. The sessions weren't flawless, but they were truly masterful.

Whoa! Is the IAC raising the bar? Fortunately, Mattison and I knew they were taking a pretty strict view of this Proficiency. and we coached our participants around it. About half the sessions passed our standards. It'll be interesting to see what the IAC does with them.

After spending a long weekend with the Proficiencies and new Masteries, I'm more blown away than ever at the power of great coaching to transform both the coach and client and literally create a new world. I'm so thankful that the IAC exists, because it gives coaches a wonderful incentive to become the best they can be. Here's what one coach, whose two sessions passed the IAC, wrote:

"Anyone who is committed to his or her own greatness as a coach needs to take this course. The profession will be enhanced immeasurably as a result and the way this would effect humanity is awe-inspiring!" - Kristi Arndt, IAC-CC

I've listened to a lot of coaching sessions since I did the "Lead Certifier" thing in 2004-5. Coaches are getting better and that's a very good thing!

Here's what I'm curious about: Is the IAC raising the bar because the quality of the applicants has improved? Some time ago, they revealed that they only pass about 25%. Is that still true?

Coaches adapt pretty quickly, so I don't have a problem with the IAC raising the standard, as long as they don't narrow down the style of coaching that is acceptable. I'm all for high standards, which reflect well on all of us, but narrow standards could reduce the number of clients who can be helped.

And of course, all of this is subjective. Nobody's right or wrong. The perfection is in what we learn from each other.

As long as we're all free to be ourselves, while practicing our brilliance to transform the lives of others, coaching will grow as a force for positive change. I hope the IAC will fully communicate with us on any changes in their standard. ;-)

Here's my favorite testimonial from last weekend:

"Go do it! It will change your life & those you work with! Hold on to your pants and shoot for the stars :)" - Jan O'Brien [Update: Jan is now an IAC-CC]

The question we're getting is when will we do another Certification Prep? We honestly don't know, but we're thinking about it.

In the meantime, the Seven Secrets of Certification practicums are going strong. they are basically the same thing, but in virtual form. A new group will start next month.

Topics: Coach Certification, Kristi Arndt, Mattison Grey, Certification Practicum, IAC, Certification Prep

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