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Ask the Coach: What exactly is personal coaching?

Posted Aug 14 2009 6:42pm
Being that I am a personal coach, I get this one a lot...in emails, when I meet people, at speaking engagements:

Q: What exactly is a personal coach?

A:Coaching is a powerful, ongoing relationship which focuses on clients making important changes in their lives. Coaching uses a process of inquiry and personal discovery to build a client’s level of awareness and responsibility, and provides the client with structure, support, and feedback. The coaching process helps clients to both define and achieve personal and professional goals faster and with more ease than would be possible otherwise. In coaching, the focus is on designing the future, not getting over the past.

The field of coaching is booming and there are many coaching niche areas. Business coaching for executives and teams has become quite popular. Coaching children and teens to help them excel with academics is on the rise, as is parenting coaching. Many small business owners higher coaches to help them increase revenue.



Coaching usually occurs in the context of a long-term relationship, where the client’s goals, dreams, and vision drive the action. The belief is that there are multiple paths to reach a goal, and that the client knows the way (though they might not realize it at the time). The coach assists the client to become a “change master.” To this end, coaching and adjustment to dietary changes go hand-in-hand.

How does coaching work?

Generally, most coaches have a structure that includes three to four sessions each month, with quick check-ins by phone and email in between. Coaching sessions can be either one-on-one, in small groups, or a combination of both. They can be in-person, via phone, or a combination of both throughout the month, which allows for financial and logistical flexibility. In-person sessions can include shopping, practice with advocating, and cooking.

A coach will encourage clients to set goals that they truly want, ask them to do more than they have done on their own, help them focus in order to produce results more quickly, and provide the tools, information, support, and structure to help them accomplish more. It’s like having a personal trainer to assist you with making adjustments to improve your life.

Who should consider hiring a personal coach that specializes in dietary restrictions?

Since coaching is all about helping others to make big life changes, it marries well with the niche of food allergies, intolerance, and sensitivities. You may want to consider hiring a coach if:

  • If you arefeeling unsure as to how to adjust your lifestyle around your food challenges

  • If you are feeling limited by food allergies/intolerance/sensitivities
  • If you are not sure where to go for information or are overwhelmed by all the information you are finding

  • If you are restricting yourself from enjoying going out to restaurants, parties, etc.

  • If you are having difficulty sticking to your intolerance- or sensitivity-specific diet
  • If you are having difficulty getting your child's school to "get it"


It’s important to find someone that you “click” with. Most coaches offer a free initial session to help get to know them, and to answer any questions you might have about the coaching process.

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