Coaching Techniques

The Coach and Client Partnership: Holding Up a Mirror and a Flashlight

The coaching partnership as a story can be described with a mirror and a flashlight -- building self-awareness and reflecting the path to come for your client.

One of the greatest things about coaching is how solidly it is based in science and process. While the process of change and transformation can feel a bit mystical sometimes, coaching itself is evidence based and built upon scientific concepts – goal setting theory, behavioral change theory, positive psychology and pulls from many other disciplines.

As someone who might be new to the idea of coaching – this should be a huge relief. In your future coaching practice you won’t need to magically already be talented, or rely on what you already know, or have a big social media presence or guess about what might work with a client. 

Coaching is skill-based and solidly built upon technique and frameworks that can be learned and practiced – which means that anyone can acquire the ability to coach. (And if you bring your existing skillset to the table, all the better!)

While we love the scientific underpinnings of our field – we also find ourselves occasionally reaching for a narrative way to explain the journey of a coaching partnership between coach and client. For your clients coaching is an ongoing process of introspection, discovery, and transformative growth – one that can be explained using the metaphor of a mirror and a flashlight. 

The Mirror: A Reflection of The Self

Think of your client stepping in front of a large ornate mirror. It reflects back an honest image of your client and the world around them, exactly as they are in the moment – no distortion, no filters. Your role as a life coach is to hold up the metaphorical mirror – to help your client see their own reality more clearly.

Self awareness is one of the foundations of true personal development. The mirror held up in coaching shows clients as they are in this moment – their emotions, thoughts, values and behaviors as they currently exist. Being able to see things as they are is the first step in being able to decide what you want to change or where you want to grow.

As your client begins to see things as they are, you’ll help by asking them questions and giving a solid foundation for introspection and building self awareness. As a coach, you hold up a mirror to help your client recognize and understand their strengths, weaknesses, joys, goals and beliefs – all by asking powerful questions and reflecting back what you’re hearing. 

The Flashlight: The Illumination of The Path

While the mirror helps your client to see themself and their circumstances more clearly, the flashlight illuminates the dark places and helps you both see what’s on the path ahead. 

After holding up the mirror, as a coach, you’ll also hold up the flashlight – shining a light on your client’s goals, ambitions and areas that are ripe for growth. Think about walking down a darkened path with your flashlight. It doesn’t show you the entire journey all at once, but it gives you the courage to take the next step safely. 

As a coach, you will never set the direction or tell your client what to do – coaching is client-led and client directed – but you’ll empower your client to walk their own path. Coaches shine a light through perspective, options and potential strategies for making an action plan. You will work with your client to break down their big goals into manageable ones and develop the steps needed to make the journey from where they are now to their desired destination.

The flashlight is also useful to take a look at the things we sometimes avoid – the challenges and obstacles that might come up along the way. You will guide your client through this journey – providing focus, accountability and motivation until they come out the other side.

Our Journey is Our Own

The most important thing about the flashlight and the mirror is that the client is the one standing in front of the mirror and using the flashlight. The journey of personal growth is theirs alone – your role is only to be a guide and facilitator, a champion and, well… a coach. 

You won’t tell your client what to see in the mirror or where to shine the light – that’s for them to discover. Instead, coaches provide their clients with tools, frameworks and techniques to help navigate change and achieve their goals. 

This journey of self discovery with a coach can lead to some profound changes. While change may seem difficult at first, as a coach, you are providing an invaluable service for your client that will give them the space to change their life. All through illumination and reflection, both metaphorical and very real. Your clients will begin to align their actions with their values and goals, making better decisions and leading a life that’s more meaningful and authentic to them and that is the makings of a good life.


Are you ready to embrace your potential as a coach?

ICF-accredited, evidence based and built on science -- Lumia Life Coach Training is here to equip you with the tools to hold the mirror and hand the flashlight to your clients, guiding them on their powerful journey of self-discovery.

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