Frequently Asked Questions
Got a question about coaching, or about working with me? You’ll find answers to the questions I’m most regularly asked about how coaching works and about what it’s like working with me here at Life Atlas.
If you can’t find your answer, please get in touch!
All about Coaching in General
What's the difference between different types of coaching?
However it is labelled, coaching is a type of professional support that helps people achieve goals. Whatever their background and whatever area they work in, a coach’s expertise is in enabling others to make progress by making changes for the better – whether they are practical changes or mindset changes and whether that is in a work context or a life context.
Life coaching is a broad area, and includes any kind of coaching with individuals or couples that helps them identify and achieve personal goals across one or more areas of their life. This could include their health, work-life balance, confidence, general happiness, parenting, finances, relationships, overall mindset, career, dealing with life transitions, improving decision making…the list is almost endless. If there’s something you are struggling to change, deal with or improve, then a life coach can help you develop your thinking, work out what to do and enourage you to actually do it!
Business coaches work with individuals who run their own businesses – often small businesses – and support them to launch, grow and develop their businesses in all kinds of different ways.
Executive coaches work with people within the context of the organisation they work for – usually leaders and managers. They may work with individuals or teams, focussing on achieving goals or changes that will in some way improve individual and business performance.
Here at Life Atlas Coaching, I work in all of these areas to one degree or another with busy professional women who have, or are expecting, children, although most of my work is in life coaching and business coaching.
What can a coach do that I can't do on my own?
When you have a problem or need to make some changes most of us turn to someone or something else for help or advice at some stage in the process. Whether it’s reaching for a self-help book, browsing pinterest for motivational quotes or turning to our friends for advice, we often look for something to help us stay positive, encourage us or help us find new ideas when we get stuck.
But it’s one thing to believe in yourself, develop your dream, or recognise you need to make a change and feel motivated to do so, and another to know where to start and how to actually do it…especially if you are already overwhelmed with responsibilities across work, family and life in general.
When you work with a coach like me, you are working with someone who has no agenda and no vested interest in the decisions you make other than to help you get to where you want to go. I work with you in a way that is 100% about wanting to see you succeed, on your OWN terms…so you can trust that the solutions you come up with are right for you and are not based on someone else’s preferences or needs.
Unlike a self-help book I don’t have just one approach open to me to help you – I can (and do) use all kinds of different tools, questioning styles, exercises and approaches and will choose the things we do together based on your specific situation and your preferences and view of the world, not anybody else’s.
Specifically, there are a few key things that I do when working with you that you simply can’t do for yourself:
- I ask you the unexpected, and do so in ways which help you to unlock completely new ways of thinking and come up with totally new ideas
- I hear the things that you would rather not hear or would prefer to forget about, and raise them with you so you can’t just pretend they don’t exist
- I will spot and help you to work on underlying issues that are stopping you from succeeding (things that you probably don’t even realise are related to your problem). This means you don’t just achieve something that works short-term, but you also make changes which have long-term benefits (sometimes in areas you never expected)
- I help you formulate your plans and your goals and approach them in a way that makes you more intrinsically motivated to achieve them, giving you a massive head start
- I provide you with ongoing support and encouragement, and act as an accountability partner for you, which makes it far more likely that you won’t give up when the going gets tough…or at the first sign of feeling like you don’t have the time to do it
- And of course, if you really love a self-help book, once I’ve got to know you and how you think I can probably direct you straight to one that will help you most (so you’ll save time and money!)
What makes coaching different to therapy/counselling?
Where most forms of therapy are usually focussed on looking at issues in your past that are causing you problems in the present and helping you to come to terms with those issues, coaching is almost entirely present and forward looking. We may look backwards from time to time in coaching but its always with a view to deciding on the best action for the future.
Coaching is action focused and requires you to take responsibility for making decisions and actual changes for your future. This requires you to have a healthy enough mind to be able to take personal responsibility for your decisions and actions, and coaching may therefore not be suitable for you if you are suffering from a mental illness. Coaching can be an effective and positive way of dealing with depression for some people, particularly in combination with therapies like CBT, but will not be right for everyone. Please get in touch for a chat if you’re unsure whether coaching is the right solution for you or suitable for you.
What makes coaching different to training or mentoring?
With the possible exception of sports coaches, coaches don’t teach or advise and don’t tell you what to do.
Life coaches aren’t agony aunts, and business coaches aren’t business consultants, giving you the answers to your problems.
Instead, a coach like me will work with you to help you find your own answers. I’ll help you achieve your goals both by helping you develop a strong, positive mindset and by focussing on practical actions that will effective in moving you forward. But I won’t actually tell you the answers. Because I don’t know them. But I do know how to help you find them and act on them for yourself.
Do I need a business coach or a business consultant?
Business coaching isn’t the same as business consultancy.
Depending on the issue you are facing in your business, either approach may help you achieve the solution and results you are after…it’s really a matter of approach.
Coaching is centred on helping the business owner to develop their thinking and use their strengths to work out the root cause of their problems themselves and find their own answers. In contrast, a consultant will usually come up with both the reason for the problem and propose a resulting strategy or answer themselves – and will sometimes implement the solution for you as well.
Coaching is likely to leave you with newly developed understanding and ways of thinking around issues that you can use time and again in future for lasting change, and will develop your own personal skills as a result. On the other hand, a consultant will take on more of the leg-work in actually solving your issue, including bringing previous examples of how they’ve solved similar problems for other businesses, and this may be exactly what you and your business need right now.
When you select business coaching with me, I believe you have the best of both worlds. I will work with you specifically as a coach, not a consultant, so you will have all the personal development opportunity which that brings. But I will also share with you any experiences, ideas and lessons I’ve learned from more than 20 years working in marketing and business myself if I feel they will help you reach your best possible decision.
If your issue is that you are finding working alone at the top of your business tough going, and could really do with having a non-judgemental team-mate to share concerns with and think through ideas and issues with so you feel better supported, then I believe that coaching is the way to go for support every time!
How do I know if coaching is the right solution for me?
If you have got goals to achieve in your life or your work, if you are ready and prepared to personally make changes to achieve more (more happiness, more success, more time for yourself, more anything!), and you are ready to take personal responsibility for taking action and making it happen, then coaching is likely to be a great fit for you.
If you want someone to tell you what to do, if you aren’t prepared to make changes, if you don’t feel ready to be honest with yourself (or me) about what you want or how you feel about it, or if you would simply rather someone else made all the decisions and came and sorted things out for you, then coaching is unlikely to work well for you right now.
Coaching is also unlikely to be the right solution for finding greater happiness if you have an underlying mental health issue that is the key cause of your unhappiness. If you suffer with depression and feel it is generally well managed, coaching may still be an appropriate method for you in helping you achieve life or business goals and make other personal life improvements.
Please get in touch with me for an informal, confidential chat to find out more if you’re unsure whether coaching is appropriate or right for you. I promise I will always be honest and let you know if I feel it is unlikely to be the best-fit for you.
How do I choose the right coach for me?
Once you’ve established that coaching is the right solution for you, there is of course still the question of finding the right coach for you!
First, there are some practical considerations to weigh up:
- where can you have your coaching?
- will they offer coaching in person, by phone or maybe by Skype?
- if you want coaching in person, how far will you have to travel or will they come to you?
- Are they available to coach you at times that suit you?
- how much will they charge you?
But beyond your practical requirements, it is important to find a coach that you feel you can trust, that will trust and respect you, and that you will enjoy your coaching experience with…and that is very personal to each of us.
- Are you most likely to develop that trust with someone someone quiet and more introverted or someone with an inspiring and energetic personality?
- Do you want a laid back coach with a background in alternative therapy who will weave some meditation into your sessions, or will you connect better with someone who’s very challenging or straight talking?
- Do you value an approach that’s down to earth and practically focussed or someone likely to be more adventurous?
- Would you prefer to work with someone quite serious or someone with a more laissez-faire approach?
- Does age, gender or background make a difference to how likely you are to trust them to be able to “get” you and understand your view on the world?
- Do you care what kind of qualifications or previous experience they have?
Once you’ve got a feeling for what you might be looking for, the best way to decide is to pick up the phone and talk to one or more coaches you like the sound of to see how you feel as well as finding out working with them will fit with your needs practically. There are no absolutes, and no two coaches are exactly the same. Once your instinct tells you you’ve found the right one, then you’re probably right!
All about Coaching with Life Atlas
What happens first? How do I get started with coaching with you?
Coaching with me usually starts with a free discovery session, where we find out more about each other and decide whether working together on a coaching programme is likely to be successful.
After your discovery session, I will send you a personal proposal for your coaching programme which will outline the number, length and frequency of sessions proposed, the length of the programme overall, the key areas I believe we should cover and work on and the proposed costs of the programme.
Once you are happy with the programme and choose to go ahead and start coaching, I will send you a contract containing your personal programme details and we will agree when to start working together.
Usually, coaching can start quite quickly, but there may be times where there is a short wait for a slot to become available. I will flag any potential issues like this to you during our discovery session if I can.
So your very first step is one you can make today – you simply need to either pick up the phone or drop me an email to arrange a discovery session with me and get the ball rolling.
What's a discovery session?
A discovery session is simply a 30-40 minute conversation in which you find out more about coaching, about me and about coaching with me, and I find out more about you and why you are considering coaching with me.
You’ll have the opportunity to ask all the questions you still have about coaching with me, and you’ll also have the opportunity to experience my coaching style in a small way, as I will use a coaching conversation to find out more about you, your circumstances and why you are considering coaching.
We will also talk about your practical requirements and the options open to you, so that I have all the information I need to be able to provide you with a proposal for a coaching programme designed just for you that will help you tackle your specific issues and achieve your own unique goals.
Your discovery session can take place either by phone or in person and costs absolutely nothing but your time (which I appreciate is very valuable and can be harder to find than the money sometimes!).
You can get the ball rolling by arranging a time for your discovery session today – simply pick up the phone and give me a call on 07947 623211 or email me at email@example.com . I’d really love to hear from you.
How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions you will need to achieve your goals depends on what you want to achieve and how complex the issues are that stand in your way.
It also depends on the length of sessions that we have together – some issues and goals may be better worked on through a greater number of short sessions and others will benefit from longer sessions, spaced further apart and possibly fewer in number.
As a ballpark indicator, the majority of coaching programmes with me run for between four and nine sessions.
For bespoke coaching programmes, during your discovery session I will aim to get as much information as I can to help me recommend a number of sessions and overall timescale to you and we will discuss any preferences you have.
Whatever we agree, we will always contract for a specific number of sessions and will agree the length of those sessions, so you will never be left not knowing how many more sessions we will have together to work on your goals. And if you achieve all your goals before the coaching programme is officially over, you are totally free to give me notice and walk away without financial penalty.
If you are interested in booking one of my packaged programmes, these will run for the number of sessions and length of time specified within the programme, although it may be possible to alter some of the timings to suit your busy calendar – for example by combining some sessions together or by holding them closer together or further apart. Please let me know if you would like me to consider this for you.
How long does a coaching programme normally last?
As with the number of sessions, the length of your coaching programme will depend on the nature of the goals you wish to achieve and the complexity of the issues you need to tackle and changes you wish to make.
It may also depend on the frequency and length of coaching sessions we have together, and also on the time you have available to achieve your goals….if you have a deadline then that will probably dictate the length of the programme we contract for together!
Often the really big benefits and breakthroughs from coaching come for clients in between sessions as much as during sessions, when you are practicing and using the new things you have learned, acting on the decisions you’ve made and continuing to think about the areas we’ve talked about and discovered.
For this reason, depending on the goals you are setting yourself, working together on a coaching programme over a longer period of time can therefore be really beneficial, even if the number of sessions is not particularly high.
How often will we have coaching sessions?
In most circumstances I recommend that you have a coaching session once every three to four weeks throughout your programme if possible.
When they are much further apart than this I find clients tend to lose some momentum and when sessions are very close together, clients don’t always get the full benefit of coaching because so many of the benefits and breakthroughs from coaching come as you practice and use what you’ve learned, put in place the actions and decisions you’ve made and continue your thinking about the discoveries you’ve made.
However, there are times where I will suggest a different frequency of session. For example, some goals will only be achieved over a long period and may need a greater length of time between sessions in order to move plans and actions forward significantly enough to make the coaching of real benefit.
I may also suggest that we hold our first couple of sessions quite close together in order to help you get some real momentum going and start achieving quickly, before then spacing sessions further apart for the rest of the programme.
Of course, practical considerations also come into the mix, and my aim is to be as flexible as possible when designing your programme for you, so that any preferences and needs you have can be met.
How long is a coaching session?
I offer coaching sessions varying from 45 minutes to an hour and a half in length.
For phone coaching sessions, I recommend not holding sessions of longer than an hour, as your concentration needs to be quite focused and it can be hard to maintain for much longer!
For in-person coaching, I will recommend either one hour or 90 minute sessions depending on the nature of your goals, the amount of time you have available, how frequently it would be beneficial to meet and where we meet.
Where does coaching with you take place?
I offer coaching in person or over the phone and, if it suits you better, you can have a combination of both of these.
If you choose phone coaching, you can have your coaching from the comfort of your own home, from your place of work or anywhere else you choose – I simply ask that you have enough privacy and a good enough phone connection to be able to focus on the coaching and not be distracted!
If you’d like to be coached in person you can either come to my office just outside Ashby-de-la-Zouch (around half an hour away from many of the Midlands’ major cities including Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester and Derby) or we can arrange to meet in a suitable location somewhere nearer to you.
What is your "walk and talk" coaching option?
Have you ever found that you think really clearly or talk particularly openly and easily when you are out for a walk?
Many people learn well when they are active, which can make coaching while walking a great option.
Equally, for many people being out in the open air, feeling relaxed, creates a fantastic environment in which to free your mind and open up new possibilities. It literally removes barriers, which seems to help you mentally remove them too!
So, my “Walk and Talk” option allows you to have a coaching session in the open air while walking together through the countryside. It might sound a bit “alternative”, but it’s actually really practical and can be a real unexpected pleasure and benefit to your coaching programme.
“Walk and Talk” won’t be suitable for every session – for example where we want to work on a particular exercise that requires specific equipment or type of space. But for many sessions it is an option open to you , and there’s obviously no extra cost- you just need to ask!
The Life Atlas office is in the Heart of the National Forest and there are a number of easy walking routes within minutes of my front door, so you can even arrive and decide on the day that you’d like to walk instead of sit inside if you like.
I'm really busy. How on earth am I going to fit coaching sessions in?!
I will work as flexibly as I can with you to identify the best times, locations and session-lengths to fit your busy life.
I have a number of breakfast, evening and weekend slots available for coaching each week – whether in person or over the phone. These are limited, so there may be a small wait to start your coaching programme if you would like to use these slots.
Phone coaching sessions are usually no longer than an hour (it’s hard to concentrate for much longer on the phone!), and can be fitted into a lunch break, as well as before and after work, and can be done from the comfort of your own home at more or less any time that suits you.
If you’d rather meet in person, I understand it may be more convenient for you to have fewer, longer, coaching sessions – I really will listen to what your needs are and try and develop a programme with timings that work for you.
Finally, as something a little different, I also offer “Walk and Talk” sessions, which means you can combine some exercise with your coaching….nothing like a bit of multi-tasking after all!! Walk and Talk may not be suitable for every session, but if it’s something you’d like to explore, you just need to ask!
How and when do I pay you?
Once we have agreed our coaching programme, you may either pay the entire cost of the programme up front, or you can spread the cost monthly across the length of the programme.
How much does coaching with you cost?
The cost of your programme will depend on the nature of the programme we agree – the number and length of sessions, the location of the sessions, the types of tools we are likely to use and the complexity of the requirements and outcomes you’re looking for.
I understand that talking about the cost is often the question you most need (but least want) to ask, so I will try to be as up-front about costs with you as I can. I will be able to give you a quote for coaching following a discovery session (which is totally free). And I promise there will be no hard-sell.
To give you an idea as a starting point (and to help you decide whether you want to give me a call):
a typical six-session personal confidence coaching, work-life balance coaching or career development coaching programme, spread over five months, will cost from £99 per month
a six-month small business coaching programme, with monthly coaching sessions, will cost from £125 per month
You can find the cost of my packaged coaching programmes on each programme’s own page.
What coaching qualifications do you have?
Although anyone can coach without any formal qualifications, I am a certified coach, having completed ICF accredited coach training with Barefoot Coaching. I am a member of the ICF (International Coach Federation).
Further to this I am currently completing a Post Graduate Certificate in Personal and Business Coaching (PGCert) with the University of Chester, which I expect to finish in early 2017.
What guarantees do you offer?
I cannot offer you a guarantee that you will achieve all the goals you set for yourself, because it is you and you alone that is in control of actually making the changes and acting on the decisions you make.
I do guarantee to be able to offer the number and type of sessions we set out in our coaching contract, and you also have complete freedom to walk away from your coaching programme at any time, without financial penalty – for example if you achieve your goals more quickly than we expected, or if you simply feel coaching is not working for you.
Who regulates your work and the quality of your coaching?
Coaching is an unregulated profession. This means anybody can call themselves a coach, whatever their background, training and level of competence.
I am a member of the world’s leading coaching membership organisation, the ICF (International Coaching Federation), having completed ICF accredited training. I am therefore bound by the ICF code of ethics and I work using the ICF’s core coaching competencies.
Although not a legal requirement in coaching (it is a legal requirement for therapists), I work regularly with a coaching supervisor. I am happy to provide details of my current coaching supervision arrangements upon request.