What is Personal and Professional Coaching?
Like sports coaches, life and professional coaches teach and support individuals and teams in their efforts to reach goals. Instead of athletic goals, this kind of coaching aims at career and life goals such as increased effectiveness, leadership development, better work-life balance, or achieving financial success.
What kind of people benefit from coaching?
Just about anyone can benefit from coaching. In cultures around the world and in different centuries, people have always sought wise counsel from experts or elders. Sometimes, the wise elder might be a tribal elder or a clergy person or a shaman. But in a fast paced, highly mobile culture, the connection to those resources no longer exists so coaches fill the role of guide. By temperament and training, coaches are insightful and intuitive individuals who can pace their guidance to the needs of the client. They are like therapists or spiritual directors but instead of working with clients on mental health or spirituality they help clients live better lives at home and at work.
In my coaching practice, I am most likely to have clients who want to:
- Lower stress and busyness while increasing productivity;
- Discover their strengths and use those strengths in work they love;
- Navigating transitions in work or personal lives;
- Find a new job or career;
- Have support while working on new goals;
- Use a clear sense of direction to balance and prioritize roles;
- Develop a structured plan to balance leisure, relationship time, and work;
- Experience more love, money, fun, and harmony;
- Faculty specific goals such as improving teaching, increasing scholarly productivity, and developing meaningful service;
- Make a difference while making a living and a life;
What kind of background do coaches come from?
Many coaches have professional experiences in either business or mental health. They may have additional training specifically in coaching.
I am a licensed psychologist who has had several career paths as a psychologist including that of psychology professor, leadership development facilitator, counselor, and author. I now divide my time among coaching, speaking, and writing activities. I have owned my own business from 1982 and have consulted to colleges, businesses and non-profit organizations.
In addition to my graduate degrees and the continuing education requirements of maintaining a psychology license, I have taken coaching courses through MentorCoach, a coach training school which, at the time, specialized in training therapists who are coaches. I am one of the founding members of the Maryland Chapter of the International Coach Federation. My highest professional joy is helping people create and live their ideal lives.
How does coaching work?
Usually clients schedule complementary introductory sessions with several coaches to see which one might match the client’s needs and pacing. You need to feel comfortable with your coach so trust your instincts.
When I first meet with clients I ask them what their current situation is about and what their goals are. I zero in on one aspect for a brief sample of what coaching with me would be like? If the client decides to work with me, we explore a plan for meeting the client’s goals and a time frame for meeting. Some clients meet with me in person and some on the phone.
In between coaching sessions, clients work on agreed upon assignments relevant to their goals. I am available between sessions for phone and email to provide feedback and encouragement. A coaching relationship can last as long as you wish. Some of my clients work with me for a period of time, take a break from coaching, and then come back when they are ready to take action on new goals.
How is coaching different from therapy?
Therapy usually works on healing emotional difficulties while coaching works on designing and living your ideal life. Coaching can help you with career transitions or with reaching your dreams. If personal issues interfere with your moving toward goals, coaches recommend therapy either at the same time as the coaching or in preparation for entering into coaching.
What can coaching offer you?
Coaching can help you to get more of what you want out of life. To listen in to what some of my clients say about working with me:
Susan helped me to focus my teaching, research, and clinical work on a few key elements at a time. I protested that I would not keep up my productivity. I shouldn't have worried. The strategy helped me get more done because it helped me decrease my frantic unproductive multitasking.
Woman faculty member.
John's Hopkins University Medical School
I went to Susan when I had the fortunate—and difficult—challenge of choosing between two positions, both of which offered unique opportunities. Susan provided exercises that helped me clarify what I thought would be the advantages and disadvantages of each position, helping me to sort through many issues. My goals and my worldview provided the framework for her coaching. She made efficient use of our time and quickly narrowed in on the most essential issues. During negotiations for the positions, she taught me strategies that significantly increased my confidence. I would strongly recommend her to any woman considering a new opportunity or career change.
A non-profit development director.