Originally published in July 2019, this article has been updated by Team Lumia to include new resources.
Coaching Framework to Help A Client Get Unstuck
As a coach, your number one goal is to make an impact. You want to help people improve their lives in all the different areas that matter to them. Helping your clients move from point A to point B is the biggest success you can achieve!
And yet, we also know that the road to goal attainment isn't always a straight line. Odds are, your clients will have moments of doubt, hesitation, or downright confusion along the way.
A "stuck" client is a pretty common experience for most coaches.
If your client is struggling, that doesn't necessarily mean you're doing it wrong as a coach. This is actually the reason they hired you in the first place. And it is also one of those moments when powerful coaching questions can come to the rescue!
Remember: as a coach, you don't need to have all the answers. You just need a strategy that will encourage your clients to move forward.
The next time you reach a sticking point in a coaching session, try using this 3-step coaching conversation framework to help shake things up.
"Where are you now?"
It is one thing for a client to share her story and for you to understand exactly where she is. It’s another for HER to know exactly where she is!
As a coach, it's important to help your client assess their current state so that you both understand the starting point. Often, a client will get so mired in the details of a situation - what's happening right now, how it feels, or what's not working - that they can't see the forest for the trees.
In these moments, the client needs your help to gain a wider perspective. To help your client gain more clarity, begin by asking her to take the 10,000 foot view. Start by having her describe where she is right now.
"Where do you want to be?"
Once your client can locate herself clearly on the map, she's in a better position to figure out what comes next. Naming Point A (where I am right now) and Point B (where I'd like to be) is a necessary step in the process of getting unstuck and moving forward.
This question garners a lot of different answers, and possibly some confusion.
We all want to be in so many places at the same time. We may even want different things at the same time - to buy a house, be successful, have a great career, travel the world… this list goes on and on. But it's helpful for the client to pick one or two things to work on at a time.
The question ‘Where do you want to be?’ is powerful because it invites the client to step out of their current storyline and begin thinking about the future in a specific way.
By asking this question of your client regularly, you’re helping them dream into the possibilities as they slowly pave the path to where they really want to be. You’re helping them claim their true goals in life.
"What’s getting in the way?"
This last question is a tough one, but necessary. It's where the rubber meets the road in coaching.
More often than not, there isn't just one obstacle between a client's Point A and Point B. Most clients will encounter a series of bumps and hiccups on the road toward their desired outcomes. And until your client acknowledges those bumps and hiccups and makes a plan for meeting them, she is unlikely to move forward.
With your help, a thorough investigation of this question will help your client identify what's blocking her from achieving her goals. What’s blocking her from getting what she REALLY wants? (Spoiler alert: it may not be what she originally assumed!)
Once your client has gained insight into the big three, it's time to come up with solutions. Use this question that can help catalyze forward momentum: "What's one small action you can take?"
Anyone can have an "a-ha" moment. However, those insights do us very little good if we don't turn them into new behaviors or actions. Part of your job as a coach is to help your client move forward. Without pushing, forcing, or telling a client what to do.
Along the way, celebrate every small step they are willing to take. Even something as simple as researching an idea that came up in the session can help your client get unstuck.
Want more tools for structuring effective coaching sessions? Check out:
- What’s a Coaching Framework vs. Intervention?
- 4 Life Coaching Session Frameworks To Use With Clients
- How To Handle A Difficult Coaching Session (And When to Refer Out)
Ready to Become A Coach?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our life coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like a partner in the process, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.