How Personal is Too Personal In Online Coaching?
This is a guest post written by Alex Moore. Want to contribute? Check out the 2018 publishing calendar.
An increasing number of people who are looking for direction and mentorship in life are turning to life coaching. Working with a life coach makes it easy to create new goals and establish a vision for the future to attain success.
However, as a coach, it's important to understand when your professional relationship with your clients can become too personal. Here are a few examples.
Dictating a relationship
As a life coach, your role is to influence and offer advice to your client instead of telling them what decisions to make. Some people may need relationship advice or want to know how to be a good spouse to ensure that they succeed romantically and with their partner.
But there is a thin line between helping and overstepping your bounds in this case. Life coaching can become too personal if you begin to tell the client that they need to separate from their spouse or find a different companion.
An individual should have the freedom to make their own decisions without feeling controlled or manipulated by their coach. So, it is important that you always remain professional during the coaching engagement and empower your clients to make their own decisions without feeling reprimanded.
On top of that, you should never pressure them to cut off relationships with their family members or friends. Although you may consider these people to be negative influences in their life, as a coach you are only allowed to encourage your clients to spend time with more positive people.
Imposing a purpose in life
Life coaches like yourself should steer their clients in the right direction instead of being overly direct and imposing a certain path. According to Medium, the most reputable life coaches are those who help other people find their passion and discover what they want to do with their life through asking the right questions, actively listening, expressing empathy and empowering their clients.
Offering recommendations on the most suitable career is perfectly fine when it comes from a good place and is backed up by reasonable facts and career or personal assessments. You can even help them with revising their resume and contacting a temp agency in the local area to find jobs that meet their criteria and skillset.
Providing unwarranted therapy
According to Lifecoach.com, online coaching is not therapy, and thus shouldn’t be approached as a way of healing from past wounds. Unresolved traumas may be present, but coaches are not qualified to help them process those emotions and learn how to move on in life.
As a professional in your field, you should be able to refer your client to a therapist if you recognize that they have a deep wound that is interfering with making decisions or staying committed to their goals.
You should never force the person you are coaching to be vulnerable in front of you because that’s not what your job is about at the end of the day. Allow them to divulge only information that they feel comfortable with and is useful for helping them succeed. Using
Becoming their best friend
Life coaches are meant to take on a mentor role in the lives of their clients, but many people make the mistake of hiring a coach to be their best friend. To avoid that, you need to establish clear boundaries and don’t compromise your professionalism to form a bond.
If your relationship with one or more clients becomes too personal, it might impede your ability to be honest with them. You are not here to comfort them and reassure them, you are here to be a guiding force in their life, so make sure to act accordingly.
Expecting to know secrets
Many coaches make the mistake of inquiring about personal information in the lives of their clients, whether it's about a bad relationship, addiction or even an eating disorder. However, coaches aren't meant to pry, even if they suspect there is an underlying problem. Again, you want to use the right questions to help your clients come to their own conclusions.
You don't want your clients to feel pressured to relive painful experiences, so, unless they are volunteering the information, take care not to pry. In fact, proceeding like this is highly unprofessional. Instead, treat them with respect and establish your role as a guiding figure.
Contacting family members and friends
Professional life coaches need to respect the privacy of their clients and should never intrude. If you were thinking of reaching out to someone’s friends or family members to get a better understanding of who that person is, you are already crossing a risky line.
You need to understand that you simply work for them and you don't need to delve into their relationships to help them find success professionally or personally. You should never aim to take control of parts of their lives because that leads to unhealthy, even toxic results.
Avoiding these mistakes will ensure that you are seen as a reputable life coach by any potential client. Thus, they will feel safe and they will trust you to help them on their path towards success. And that’s what your priority should always be.
About Alex Moore
Alex Moore is a coaching enthusiast whose main interest is helping others help themselves. You’ll usually find him writing for Job Application Center, where he tries to unravel the mysteries of motivation and how they can benefit you.
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