Boundaries in Spiritual Coaching

In this 25 minute podcast, I was interviewed by Joanne Stein of www.bestcoach4u.com. Joanne is a Joyologist, Potentializer and Success Coach with over 20 years’ experience helping others to experience more joy, prosperity and success. The subject is, “Boundaries in Spiritual Coaching,” and I know you’ll find it fascinating to listen to the repartee around these questions.

You can listen to the Boundaries in Spiritual Coaching here.

What is your experience of bringing spirituality into your practice? In other words, do you let your clients know that you are a spiritual coach, or do you simply utilize your spiritual practices “under the radar”?

That’s something that’s really tailored to the individual client. I’ve really evolved into this. When I first started coaching, I was coaching a lot of entrepreneurs who were very spiritual people and some of them knew it and some of them didn’t. So initially I did not include mentions of spirituality on my website or business cards or in my speaking. I never called what I was doing as “spiritual” – I called it business coaching or life coaching – yet I would talk about spiritual principles. Now I wouldn’t use terminology such as “the law of attraction,” but I would say “based on attraction principles.” The reason I didn’t come right out and say it was because business people were resistant to it. There were still lots of folks hungry for that knowledge and wanting to create that way, but not quite willing to state that. And frankly, I wasn’t willing to state it. And the people I was attracting didn’t necessarily want to talk about spiritual principles “over the radar.”

Once I got involved with coaching and as I’ve evolved, I’ve been attracting more and more spiritual people and coaches to my practice, and I started to put it out there on my website. Five years ago I said that’s it. It’s been an evolution for me; it was all about me and my readiness. It would have thrown my energy off if I had talked overtly about spirituality, before I was ready. When I WAS ready, then people came.

How do you stay positive when your coaching schedule isn’t as full as you want it to be? How do you get the support you need?

If I were to say to myself I want to stay positive, that would put a bit of pressure on me. If I say that I always focus in a positive direction, that eases it up for me a bit. It releases resistance and possibility of self-criticism. One way that I stay focused on a positive direction is that I have regular coaching. 😉

Coaching is the answer for everything for me. At any given time in my practice I’ve had between 1 and 3 coaches. And I’d say for about 80% of the time I’ve been coaching, I’ve had 2 or more coaches.

Currently I have 3 coaches. One coach focuses on marketing my business because that’s her specialty. Another coach is a personal coach who’s been my coach for many years. So I bring my history and she’s seen my evolution. More recently I’ve been working with a coach on physical fitness and health. Because of our schedules, I’m usually able to get 1 or 2 coaching sessions a week with any of the three of them, so whatever’s on my mind, whatever’s just happened, I bring to my coach – no matter which coach I happen to be meeting with. They help me to focus on the positive for example, when I have gaps in my schedule. Always bring it to coaching. If my energy is off, a coaching session will really help me align it. It doesn’t matter which coach and which subject. Any coach I have, I can bring my whole self.

What do you do when a friend calls and wants advice? How do you set boundaries if you decide to coach friends? (And, should you charge for your time?)

This idea of coaching friends. Is it right to coach our friends because those are the people that know us? I did. If you feel you can coach your friends and maintain boundaries then great, but otherwise I wouldn’t go down this path. I explained this is what the coaching relationship is like, if we ever find it’s getting in way of our friendship, (you or me) we’re going to bring it to the table.

I was also charging my friends for my coaching services. I gave them a discount in the beginning because most of them had known me before, they were my first level of clientele and I had wanted to get my coaching practice rolling. I would tell them my regular fees are X and I really want to give you a little bit of a discount because we’re friends. My friends are like me, and I always like a bit of a sale (I love shopping at Loehmann’s!). I felt when I coached my friends, I didn’t have to establish as much of a coaching relationship. It worked out really well for me. I still do to this day. My sister asked me to coach her assistant (who was thrilled). When I offered a discount to my sister, she said she wanted to pay full price.

The other part of this is that I’m a big proponent of competency-based training which is a fancy phrase for saying, “acknowledging what I want to see in the behavior of others.” So when my friends did listen to me with full acceptance without giving me advice I would say to them, “I really appreciate how you’re listening to me. I’m listening to others all day. It makes me so happy that I have someplace that somebody can listen to me.” I would reinforce that with them.

How do you determine if therapy or coaching is the right modality for a given client?

The biggest reason I want to find the best and right modality for the client is that I want them to be well! I can tell as a coach if things aren’t working and I’ll say something. One is if I get a feeling – every spiritual coach has a high intuition and feelings and a sense of what’s going on. For example, if I’m in an initial complimentary session and I have a feeling of a victim mentality – whether I hear “I statements” or “you statements,” that gives me a hint of what the client needs. I may also ask, “On a scale from 1-10, how responsible are you for what happens in your life?” I can also simply listen to the way they’re speaking.

Early in my coaching career, a woman had called me in tears, “I need an emergency coaching session!” I said, ok come by to the office. She’s sobbing in my arms. She was really upset about the state of her marriage. I said I think you need marriage counseling with your husband. She said she had already done that and it didn’t work. “I want coaching and I want you.” So I responded, “Listen we’ll coach for a month (foundation + 3 weekly) and at the end we will check in with each other. If you are making some progress, then we’ll know. If you’re not, would you be willing at that time to go to a therapist?” She agreed. But you know what, she made so much progress and coaching turned out to be exactly the right step for her. We coached together for a couple of years, and within a few months she even took a big driving trip with her husband. So determine what’s right for a client by using all your best skills, refer them if you get a feeling, and make a deal with them if you have any hesitation as a coach. Say, “OK we’ll start coaching and check in after a month.” And then you’ll know.

Again, thank you, Joanne, for your great questions!

What are some boundaries you’ve established or that your coach uses, that you find to be really effective? Please share your tips below.

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