I had a challenging childhood that instilled in me a passion for freedom and self-empowerment. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I used that drive for freedom to stay unattached and separate from everyone and everything. I moved from one state to another every few years and didn’t allow myself to get close to anyone.
Then I attended an event with a motivational speaker who talked about identifying one’s essential gift and using it for the highest possible purpose. I had an epiphany in which I realized that I could harness my passion for freedom to free myself of limitations. Ever since then, I’ve sought out opportunities to go beyond what I, and others, believed was possible.
When I first learned about coaching, I sensed that it was the perfect profession for me because its foundation is supporting others to become their fullest, most authentic selves.
These words are posted in my home: I want to live a life as big as my capacities. This declaration is a guiding force in my life, and I welcome opportunities to work with people who seek that same level of self-expression and fulfillment.
2. What is your primary goal as a coach when it comes to dealing with an individual?
My primary goal—as well as my commitment to all my clients—is to support them to make the best use of their inner wisdom and resources in service of achieving their goals. My innovative style of coaching incorporates an empowering psychological model that can “turbocharge” coaching.
People generally come to coaching with specific goals they want to attain. They may hope it’ll be a straight shot to achieving those goals, but it’s not always that simple. Many people (as well as our culture in general) subscribe to the notion that obstacles are sabotaging parts of us that must be outsmarted, overridden, or completely ignored. The psychological model I draw on suggests that these obstacles carry wisdom and positive intent—and that developing a relationship with them is the most fruitful way to work toward goals and achieve lasting success. By uncovering their positive intent, we’re able to factor their wisdom into strategies for achieving goals. As a result, moving forward doesn’t require leaving behind or working in opposition to any aspects. Instead, clients’ different aspects work in harmony toward a common goal.
My primary purpose as a coach is to support this process and, by doing so, to empower clients far beyond what they thought they could ever achieve.
3. What has been your proudest moment as a coach?
One of my clients has generously granted me permission to share his story because it’s such an exciting example of the results that people can achieve through coaching. At age 52, this client weighed 278 pounds when he contacted me for wellness coaching. He’d tried all sorts of weight-loss strategies, none of which had been successful. I coached him over the course of about five months, and as of now, he’s lost 88 pounds and is still losing. With only about 25 pounds to go, he has every confidence that he’ll reach his target weight. I coached him using a combination of nutritional education, exercise strategies, and support in developing a relationship with his inner obstacles (see #2 above).
“This experience has gone beyond food, diet, and exercise. It’s gone into the realm of healthy living. I used to believe that the best I could do was to maintain the status quo as far as my level of health—I had no idea that I could regenerate. Coaching has given me a second chance at life.”
As a coach, nothing is more rewarding to me than hearing those words.
4. Many people view life coaches exactly as they view psychotherapists. What are the main differences between what you do and what psychotherapists do?
Coaching and therapy are different professions that use different approaches and require different types of education. Psychotherapy frequently focuses on the past and on what isn’t working that needs fixing. In contrast, coaching focuses on what is working and how to create more of it. According to the International Coach Federation, “Coaching concentrates on where clients are now and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be in the future.”
The most important differences between coaching and psychotherapy include:
- Coaching focuses on learning through doing, creating a fulfilling life, and exploring the interface between self-discovery and sustainable action.
- Therapy focuses on understanding patterns of emotion and behavior, as well as healing from difficult experiences in the past.
- In coaching, the client is the expert; the coaching process supports the client in accessing inner wisdom. The coach asks the questions, and the client looks inside to find answers.
- In therapy, the therapist is often seen as the expert.
- In coaching, the goal is to identify the client’s vision for his/her life, which energizes the client to experiment with creative approaches to bring that vision into reality.
- In therapy, the goal is to free the client from limitations originating in the past.
- Coaching does not involve deep work on childhood issues.
- Therapy often focuses on early childhood experiences.
Coaches recognize that delving deeply into the past is sometimes a necessary step in a person’s personal-growth journey. Persistent obstacles to moving forward, such as chronic depression or deep-seated self-esteem issues, are best addressed in therapy. It’s not the appropriate role of a professional coach to analyze and prescribe, nor to tread into the realm of serious emotional disturbance. The appropriate role of a professional coach, in essence, is to ask powerful questions that spark a client’s inner wisdom and lead to new approaches and solutions that are in line with the client’s authentic self.
5. What advice would you give to someone who’s considering seeing a life coach or wellness coach but isn’t sure it’s the right decision?
I’d recommend getting a taste of the process to find out if you resonate with it. Find a good coach and try a session or two. You’ll likely quickly discover that coaching is collaborative, creative brainstorming—a fun and insightful process that generates exciting new perspectives, possibilities, and approaches.
I highly recommend working with a certified coach. Doing so guarantees that the practitioner is using the term “coach” in the sense of the profession of coaching. It also guarantees that the practitioner has advanced training and a solid foundation of coaching-specific experience. Some therapists call themselves coaches to avoid having to meet rigorous licensing requirements for psychotherapists that exist in many states. These people don’t necessarily have training in coaching, nor do they necessarily follow guidelines set by the International Coach Federation (or any other professional coaching organization) about what constitutes coaching. They may engage with clients in more directive and prescriptive ways than would be acceptable or ethical for professionally trained coaches.
Self-help author and coach Tony Robbins is often quoted as saying: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Coaching challenges clients to get outside their habitual ways of living and to engage in their lives from new angles. Not everyone has the mindset and life circumstances to do that. But for those who do, coaching is a precious opportunity to think outside the box and collaborate in a partnership that can be a creative, powerful catalyst to positive change.
About Kira Freed: KiraFreed.com
Kira Freed, M.A., is a certified life coach, certified wellness coach, and freelance writer. Using an innovative, gentle, respectful coaching approach, she works with clients in the areas of wellness, weight loss, life balance, transitions, boundaries, and creativity. Kira’s website is www.kirafreed.com, and she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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