Louise and May took a course to be certified as parent coaches because we wanted additional tools that would help enrich our relationship with our clients and parents. Coaching provides a safe and open space for our parents and their children to problem solve. Through questioning, the client is able to come up with healthier ways to develop their own strategies to solve their own problems. Parent coaching is not the same as a therapist or a consultant. A therapist listens, diagnoses a mental health issue and then outlines treatment for the client. A consultant is a person who looks for solutions to problems. Being a consultant require giving advices on a specialized topic. A coach moves the client to new behaviors and actions through asking questions that allows the client to take ownership over their problems and be the problem solver which often leads to a healthier future. The client actually sets the agenda and solves the problem which is completely opposite of consulting.
When working as a parent coach, it is important to help the client set specific goals and the steps needed to achieve that goal. The client needs to decide how each goal will be measured to be able to see improvement or growth. These goals need to be achievable, relevant to the problems, and time sensitive. As a parent coach, one must watch out for barriers that can prevent the process moving forward such as family conflict, cultural differences, fear of change, or judging oneself in a negative manner. A parent coach works as an agent to help the client be accountable for goal setting. Occasionally the parent coach must help the client recognize what is really going on which requires empathy, insight, honest feedback and powerful questioning. Powerful questions are often open-ended and often begin with who, what, why, when, and how. These types of open-ended questions can often uncover options not considered by the client before when looking for solutions to the set goals. As these goals are met, it is important to examine new areas of primary focus in order to set new goals. In addition, it is important for the parent coach to restate what was heard or observed during their session which can be valuable feedback for the client moving forward.
As the parent coach and client’s relationship deepens, the parent coach needs to be genuinely present during the conversations. The client feeling heard by the coach allows the client to let go of the outcomes and be present in the moment. The truth is that we are all human beings who want to be understood and heard without judgement. This is the role we hope we can play for our clients when they need a parent coach more than a consultant or a therapist.