The Life Coaching Handbook

I recently read a book called The Life Coaching Handbook: Everything You Need To Be An Effective Life Coach, written by professional Life Coach, Curly Martin. The book was published back in 2005, therefore some of the content now seems a little outdated, however the general principles of life coaching haven’t changed. There are also a number of skills and strategies detailed within the book, which I believe offer a useful insight for those who, like myself, are relatively new to the world of life coaching.

It would be quite a task to attempt to summarise all the relevant information I took away from reading the handbook, so instead I will just share a few a couple of the activities I’ve learnt about, which can be used as additional tools for coaches to implement when supporting clients in achieving their goals.

Prioritising Task
Reflecting on our priorities can often be helpful if we feel there is an imbalance in our life somewhere, or if we are looking for a change of some kind. Take the example of a client who is looking to start a new career but has a number of different paths they could choose. Martin suggests using a simple table such as the one below, to encourage the client to look at all the relevant options, whilst considering the impact of each one. This task is designed to focus the mind and provides the client with a numerical way of comparing the options, as you are simply measuring one against another.

The table has numerous applications, prioritising career choices being just one of them, but for this particular purpose the table should be used as follows. All career choices should be listed down the left hand side in the ‘ideas’ column for instance: doctor, social worker, investment banker, lawyer. Then each idea must be rated against the criteria listed along the top of the table. The score for each criterion will range between 1 and 4. 1 = low (meaning it is easy do, the cost is low, the effort is minimal) and 4 = high (therefore the opposite applies).

In this particular scenario, there are 4 criteria, therefore 16 is the maximum possible score for any idea. The ideas with the lowest overall scores are the priorities to work on. I’ve detailed an example on the table so you can see how this works in practice.

Prioritising Task V2

Limiting Beliefs Exercise
It is thought that our beliefs begin being formed the moment we are born and that all of our experiences and interactions influence our belief systems. We build up an image of our self throughout our life, based around other people’s opinions and attitudes towards us. Those of doctors, nurses, teachers, parents, neighbours etc. and we usually grow up accepting that these are correct. We store these and they can either have a positive, or a negative influence on us. They can add to our development, they can limit our development or they can do both.

Like a self fulfilling prophecy, we let these limiting beliefs of our self image become who we are. Only by choosing to break these can we move forward and out of our comfort zone. We are caught in a loop. A loop with three components:

  • Our behaviour
  • Our self-talk
  • Our self image

The analogy of a a suitcase is used. The empty suitcase represents our self image. The clothes you shove inside it are the evidence that makes up our self image. Every pair of shoes, every shirt and every jumper you pack is another reference, it’s something said to you or about you that helps fill that suitcase and builds up those beliefs about who you are and what you’re capable of. Importantly, limiting beliefs can be changed. Those clothes can be thrown right back out of that suitcase. It’s time to re-pack!


  1. Identify a limiting belief e.g. ‘I’m not smart enough’
  2. List all references/evidence relating to that particular limiting belief e.g. I didn’t do very well at school, my mum said I’m stupid, I find science really confusing, an ex-boyfriend said the best thing about me is that I’m pretty, I don’t know much about politics etc.
  3. Decide to believe something different. To do this you need to come up with an alternative statement, something positive that can then repeat to yourself.
    (I would suggest start small, there’s no point coming up with something like ‘I’m the smartest person in the world’ if you don’t and won’t believe that. Perhaps something like ‘My brain serves me well and I use it all the time’ or ‘I have the ability to learn and grow’).
    Regularly repeat your alternative statement to break the limiting belief loop. This will take some time as it took a long time to build up the initial belief but it will become easier.
  4. Write down three additional positive statements about yourself in present tense e.g. ‘I am interesting’, ‘I am likeable’ and ‘I am inquisitive’. Use these statements as new references and pack them into your suitcase!

Visualise yourself with this new image and enjoy it. Let this be who you actually are. Interrupt your self talk (this is when you hear yourself thinking in your former limiting way) and repeat one of your new statements. REMEMBER: What you believe is a choice.

Life Coaching Handbook 2





Corporate Coaching

Mia OGorman Image

A few weeks back I attended a talk presented by Mia O’Gorman and hosted by Animas, called ‘Adventures in Corporate Coaching’. The talk was essentially an introduction into the world of corporate coaching. I now have a fair understanding of personal coaching (what this entails, how the process works, some of the issues clients may present with), so I’m now keen to gain an understanding of what corporate coaching involves and how this differs from personal coaching.

Mia has a wealth of experience of coaching in corporate environments, one of the things I learned from her is that corporate coaching is usually sought for one of the following two reasons:

  1. An organisation makes the decision to support the development of its staff through coaching. Coaching may be offered to a specific individual or a number of staff who require additional support with their roles, or those who feel they may benefit from self-development (they may have a specific goal they’re looking to achieve, may want to improve their confidence, perhaps they’ve been promoted or are facing a particular challenge in their career, or this could be an individual who is under-performing and requires additional support). The coaching may be provided by someone internal who has received training – or a professional coach, external to the business.
  2. A CEO/Director/Senior Manager (usually someone in a leadership position) is looking to develop in a particular area, for instance they may want to enhance their working relationships or alter their management style, they may be looking to readdress their time management, work/life balance etc. Coaches tend to be sourced externally.

One difference with corporate coaching compared with personal coaching is that often the individual will be coached on an issue(s) relating to their work environment, for instance some of the examples noted above. This is not always the case however, if an employee is unhappy due their personal circumstances or is facing a challenge outside of work (for instance financial difficulty or a relationship breakdown), this could affect their performance at work, so it may be useful for them to have coaching on other areas of their life. Because of this, it can be useful for a coach to have a holistic approach; or at least be prepared to address other issues outside of the working environment. It’s worth noting however that the scope of the coaching should be agreed between the coach and the client and/or individual being coached upfront, so all parties are clear on the remit and expectations can be managed.

Mia explained the general process when it comes to coaching in a corporate environment:

Brief established
One way of establishing the brief is to initially meet with the client/line manager/person who has organised the coaching to understand their objectives, then meet with the client and the individual being coached to discuss the objectives/remit of the service together and gain some input from the individual being coached. This helps to ensure everyone is on the same page. Lastly there may be a session between just the coach and the individual where they have the privacy to speak more openly prior to the coaching commencing.

Coaching commences
This may be a one off session but more often than not takes place over a number of sessions (the length, the frequency and number would usually be agreed in advance).

The organisation may require some specific measures as to how successful the coaching has been; or the coach may have their own way of determining this. Either way, it is usual for the coach to have a discussion with the individual privately following the coaching and another with the client and individual (and perhaps a further discussion privately with just the client) to reflect on the process.

The process appears a little more formulaic within corporate coaching compared with personal coaching, and can clearly be more complex when multiple people are invested in the outcome(s).

The Ridler Report  was also discussed during the talk. This is a source of information about the world of coaching from corporate coaching practice Ridler & Co. The report includes research, analysis and insights about coaching, which can be useful for businesses looking to hire coaches or train their own coaches internally. Some of the long term objectives for companies in investing in the report (and their staff) include the development of individuals, which can help to gain and retain staff and increased business performance.

To demonstrate how well recognised the Ridler Report is, numerous organisations from various sectors are involved with providing content including: Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKline, BBC, Nestle, John Lewis Partnership, Quantas, Save the Children and Lloyds Banking Group. The aim is that the report will continue to provide useful insights and developments within the coaching world and be a ‘global resource’ for organisations to utilise.





What’s In My Head

On Monday evening I attended a show by Katie Piper at the Duchess Theatre, London. ‘What’s In My Head’ is the name of her debut UK tour, which began this spring. You may have heard of Katie Piper for a number of reasons: She’s a British TV presenter, author, philanthropist (she runs a charity called The Katie Piper Foundation), and she’s a survivor of a horrific acid attack, which has altered the course of her life.

Katie is an inspiration to many (including myself) because of how she’s dealt, and continues to deal with the extreme challenges she’s faced. She’s not just survived, she’s thrived; turning the horrendous experiences she’s had into opportunities to support and educate others, and build a career for herself.

Katie’s show is more of an inspirational talk than anything else, where she opens up about what happened to her when she was attacked, the impact on both her physical and mental health following the attack; as well as some of the things that helped her to cope at this really dark time in her life.

Katie talks about affirmations and how these don’t just have to be quotes shared on social media, these can be anything from images or words to tattoos with personal information about a loved one, for instance the date of birth of a child. An affirmation is simple something encouraging and/or meaningful. I won’t go into too much detail so no spoilers here, however I will just say that she encourages you to write down any affirmations you have that are in word form and stick these up around your home. The idea being that in seeing these regularly you are reinforcing positive messages for yourself. I was encouraged to write one by the Life Coach who hosted the vision board workshop I attended a little while ago. She suggested the whole group write one each and carry this on their person moving forward, as she does. Mine is ‘Trust yourself, you’ve got this’ which is just a reminder to me that I can rely on myself and that I won’t let myself down.

2:1 breathing
The 2:1 yoga breathing technique is demonstrated by Katie as she said she finds this useful to calm her nerves at times. This kind of breathing is the opposite to ‘Fight or Flight’ and is apparently referred to as ‘Rest and Digest’. She explains that the technique is simply used to relax us and take us out of our anxious mode. You need to sit up straight, inhale for say three seconds, then exhale for say six seconds, or inhale for four seconds and exhale for eights, hence 2:1.

Although the subject matter of the talk was very serious, Katie delivered it in a way that made it moving and in some places, lighthearted and humorous. She’s a naturally engaging speaker and if there’s one thing I took away from the talk it’s that you will only move forward if you truly learn to accept your circumstances. Wishing things were different or making comparisons with other people isn’t useful. I would highly recommend the show and there are still some tickets available for her final tour date on Thursday 31st May in Camberley, Surrey so now is the time to get one!


Full Circle

Joseph Grech

Today I’ve been at yet another coaching introductory course! This one was one run by Full Circle, a coaching provider than focuses on transformation coaching. Transformation coaching is deemed a more holistic approach to coaching clients, offering long-term, sustainable change when compared with transactional coaching, which is a more structured and goal orientated approach, often relying on clients coming to sessions with specific challenges or goals.

Today’s introductory course was a little different from the others I’ve attended. It was far less showy and the focus was very much on giving attendees a real opportunity to learn about the coaching industry. Trainer, Joseph Grech didn’t put on a big performance for his audience, instead he came across as being down to earth, simply explaining Full Circle’s approach to coaching, giving a breakdown of the course structure, as well as candidly answering all our our questions about both the course and the industry.

Although perhaps not the most engaging introductory day I’ve attended, it was informative and felt entirely sincere, which was refreshing! The most valuable part of the day for me, in terms of my coaching development, was having the opportunity to observe a full coaching session between Joseph (an experienced coach) and a willing participant (a volunteer from the group who came along with a genuine issue). I’ve seen (and been involved with) coaching demonstrations at other introductory days, but until now I hadn’t witnessed a full coaching session. It was invaluable to see the full process from the coach welcoming the client into the space, explaining the remit of the service and outlining things such as the confidentiality policy; right through to the coach wrapping up the session and asking the client for feedback.

A few specific observations I noted about the coaching session were the engaging body language, tone of voice and pace Joseph maintained throughout the coaching, the in-depth listening he demonstrated and the amount of reflection and questioning he used to both challenge the client and encourage her to open up. He also used a technique I’d encountered before, which coaches use when clients don’t feel they can offer an answer when questioned on a particular issue that’s personal to them. The technique is essentially to get them to utilise their brain to come up with a solution to their own problem. Often clients can do this is they think a question is just hypothetical, or if they don’t really see that it’s them coming up with the solution.  For instance a client may say “I don’t know what I’d do if I quit my job” to which a coach may respond “But what if you did know, what might you think about doing?” or if a client were to say “What do you think I should do about my boss?” the coach may offer “What do you think I would suggest?” Another strategy is for the coach to use rhetorically questions. The client may  make a statement like “I feel that I can’t get on with people” or “I think that no one will employ me” to which the coach may ask “You feel that, or you know that?” allowing the client the opportunity to really reflect on whether something is actually a fact, or rather a limiting belief they hold.

Something else I found useful, which may be of interest to any aspiring coaches out there is the concept of Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) – This refers to when someone (in this case the coach) has a positive bias towards another person (in this case the client), which may cloud their ability to be objective. For example, if you (the coach) had worked as a nurse in a past life and had a very negative experience of working incredibly hard, over long hours and felt you hadn’t been sufficiently supported, you may assume your client (who is a nurse) also works incredibly hard and has been unfairly treated, which may not necessarily be the case. In instances like this Joseph advised referring the client onto another coach, one who can offer a more impartial service.


Essential Oils

Wild Orange Essential Oil

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop in central London about essential oils, as I was interested to find out a little about what these are and how they can be used to support good health.

The session was run by Madeleine Bergquist, who is working in partnership with a company called doTERRA, to promote and sell their essential oils, as one of their ‘Independent Wellness Advocates’.

Madeleine has strong knowledge about the products and seemed genuinely passionate about promoting them, it was a great introduction to essential oils. Firstly she explained that essential oils are not actually oils. They are simply naturally occurring compounds that come from plants. They have various roles within the plant such as aiding pollination; and often have a powerful aroma to them.

Madeleine also explained that essential oils can be used to treat a number of health complaints, although she did stress that they shouldn’t be used instead of Western medicine, but rather to complement it.

There are various ways of using essential oils:
1) Inhaling them directly (smelling the oil from the bottle, applying a few drops to a tissue or pillow case, or inhaling through steaming water)
2) Inhaling them indirectly (through a diffuser or a spray)
3) Ingesting them into the body (*direct application to the skin – this can be done in an aromatherapy massage, or in some cases you might put a drop onto your tongue or in a glass of drinking water).


Essential Oils Starter Kit

I bought a starter kit (shown above) containing three of the more popular/commonly used essential oils: lavender, peppermint and lemon. Although I don’t think the lavender is the most pleasant smell, it’s thought to be relaxing and useful to aid sleep. Since purchasing the kit I’ve frequently been putting a couple of drops of lavender onto a tissue on my pillow when I go to bed, to help me relax and fall asleep. My favourite smell however is the wild orange. As you might expect it has a powerful, sweet, citrus smell, similar to pink grapefruit.


Coaching with Hypnotherapy

Last Saturday I attended another life coaching foundation course in central London; this one was again different to the others I’ve attended, as it also included an element of hypnotherapy (which isn’t something I’ve had much exposure to). This course was an introductory day, run by John Mill and his colleague Joan of Evolve Hypnotherapy, aimed specifically at those looking to become life coaches. The course was held at Birkbeck University and followed a similar format to the other introductory courses I’ve attended, involving a number of different elements including: introductions and anecdotes from the trainers, theory, practical demonstrations with volunteers (including myself) and pair activities.

Some of the information presented e.g. analysing eye movement, which comes from the NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) branch of life coaching, was something I’d been introduced to previously. From what I’ve observed course content for life coaching courses seems fairly consistent from the various training providers (although some will have a particular focus, in this case Evolve offers an element of hypnotherapy). Other considerations when choosing a course include the general approach to coaching; is the provider more goal focused or does it have a more in-depth, holistic approach (perhaps focusing more on why the client hasn’t achieved their goals previously/has established negative belief patterns for example). The other main distinction seems to be about the provider’s course structure. By this I’m referring to the way the course is run (the course duration, whether it’s undertaken online or in a classroom setting and the elements that make up the course -for instance practical hours, assessments etc.)

Evolve appears to be a much smaller provider/less established than some of the others I’m come across, for instance Animas and The Coaching Academy. This may mean there is less overall structure and as a trainee coach, you’re likely to work with a smaller number of other trainees (as the course intake is likely to be smaller), so will have fewer people to practice the strategies and techniques with, however I can also see the benefits of training with a smaller provider. Training with a provider like Evolve is likely to offer you a more intimate, personal experience, where you have a closer relationship with the trainers, as well as your peers on the course. I expect this would create more of a ‘family’ style environment. Like with a work setting, I think finding a provider that suits your personality and your way of working is important; and I’ve found attending introductory days has been useful for me in gauging this. For example I have ruled out any online providers because virtual learning is not for me. I know that I learn better in a classroom setting and I also prefer the interaction and opportunity to build relationships, which a live environment offers.

Years ago I attended the ‘Friendly Spider Programme’ at London Zoo, (a day course aimed at helping those with arachnophobia overcome their fear of spiders through hypnotherapy). This is the only time I’ve been exposed to hypnotherapy, so I was quite relieved to find no one was able to take control of my mind or put me to sleep. Personally I found hypnotherapy was just like being in a more relaxed state of mind, similar to the state you experience during meditation. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it though, perhaps I was disappointed as I thought there would be more to it or that my fear would vanish within 24 hours, which wasn’t the case, although I did find the course helpful to some extent. Since then I’ve been keen to learn more about how hypnotherapy works, to see if my experience was typical.

During the Evolve training day we were invited to be hypnotised as a group, which involved us listening to John direct us to focus on our breathing, to think about our bodies relaxing and to picture ourselves in a pleasant place, thinking positive thoughts. This is done gradually, with suggestions of where you might be, what you might be seeing, hearing and feeling and allows you to slowly and gently move into a deeper state of consciousness. Following this, we then paired up and took turns to hypnotise our partners, using the scripts provided. This exercise linked in with the earlier eye movement task, as we were encouraged to identify whether we are a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic in terms of the primary sense we respond to (most people lean more towards one of these senses). We were then asked to use the specific script applicable to our partner, which focused on the particular sense they respond best to. The reason for this is that when you’re attempting to connect with a person, being aware of the sense they identify most with can help you communicate with them effectively, and promote a strong response from them. For instance,  if you ask someone how their holiday was and they describe how clean the beach looked, how shiny the marble in the hotel lobby was and the exquisite colour of the sea, they are likely to be a more ‘visual’ person. If they describe the sound of the waves, the chirping of the birds outside their bedroom window and the music they heard in a bar they went to, they are likely to be an ‘audio’ person. Finally, if the person describes how relaxing it felt to have a break, how walking on the soft sand felt and how warm and friendly the staff at their hotel were, they are likely to be more of a ‘kinaesthetic’ person. The scripts were therefore tailored accordingly.

I now understand that hypnotherapy is about invoking an altered state of consciousness, allowing the hypnotherapist to tap into the client’s subconscious mind, to make suggestions in order to re-programme patterns of behaviour; a tool used to help encourage positive change in a person’s thoughts and in turn, their actions. The client must of course be open to this in order for it to work effectively. Having now revisited hypnotherapy, I’m starting to see how this could be beneficial.

There was also teaching about Human Needs Psychology, a theory suggesting six basic human needs (based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs I believe). This theory differs from Maslow’s Hierarchy however, firstly because the needs are somewhat different (although the premise is the same in that the theory seeks to explain our motivations), and secondly because unlike Maslow’s structure, where everyone has the same basic need (physiological) and works up towards the highest need (self-actualisation), with the six needs there is no set order or hierarchy. Instead, the importance placed on each need is determined by the individual. These six needs are: certainty, uncertainty, significance, love/connection, growth and contribution. When these were described, this really resonated with me. I can see how I strive for all of these things, which are my priorities and some of the functional and dysfunctional ways I work to achieve them.

John also discussed the importance of living in the moment (not focusing on the past which can’t be changed, or wishing away time to get to the future assuming this will be better), how moving in a positive direction is better than not moving at all, and he explained how the stories we continue to tell ourselves can block us from taking action in our lives. An expression he used to portray our inactivity in implementing new knowledge and learning was “Shelf development not self-development”, which is similar to Brooke Castillo referring to our ‘passive learning‘ when we read/listen/discuss but don’t take the next step of putting our learning into practice. We learn something on an intellectual level but until we implement this learning, it’s not providing us with its full value.


Vision Board Workshop!


A couple of nights ago I attended something called a ‘Vision Board Workshop’ in East London, which was described as ‘Life Coaching with Arts and Crafts’. My immediate thought was ‘What a great combination, stationery and life coaching!’ I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as an artist, but I love getting crafty and was interested to see how something like this could be used as a coaching tool, so this was right up my street.

Nazli Yuceloglu is the Life Coach who ran the workshop. She runs these weekly in fact, as she believes that some people find it helps them to be able to see their goals (quite literally), building up a picture of what achieving them will look like; whereas for others, just the process of taking the time to really think about what they want to achieve and bringing these thoughts and feelings together can be useful. Nazli uses vision boards with her clients, as well as producing these herself for her own personal development, so clearly recognises the value in them.

The workshop started with all members of the group being asked to spend a little time thinking about what we might like our vision boards to reflect, this could be a goal or perhaps a feeling we want to realise. There were no rules about what we could or couldn’t do, or any specific direction as to the way our boards should develop. The process was about as open as it could have been, which felt liberating.

I thoroughly enjoyed producing my vision board and making something which allowed me to begin bringing my ideas to life. The process was therapeutic and fun. My board represents my goal of becoming a successful Life Coach, which will hopefully allow me to run my own business, help others, nurture my gifts, travel, to be happy, healthy and successful (having financial freedom, as well as regular clients, who find value in what I can offer them) and for my exploration into life coaching to continue to be a long and positive journey.

I will definitely produce a vision board again, in order to help make my plans and dreams feel more tangible and I encourage others to try it out. I can even envisage holding a workshop of this kind myself in the future. Nazli was very giving, not just in terms of her time (the workshop overran but she seemed happy for us to stay on a little longer, to ensure everyone finished their board and to allow her the opportunity to do a short exercise with us to bring the evening to a close), but also giving in that she was willing to share with us her some of her personal experiences. We were supplied with a broad selection of resources for the task, including newspapers, magazines, stickers, gems, feathers, pens, glitter, colourful lolly sticks etc. and given the freedom to use the resources and the time as we saw fit. It was interesting to see how different members of the group used the resources it contrasting, yet equally creative ways. My suggestion for improving the experience would be for Nazli to perhaps encourage short introductions and/or a brief brainstorm at the beginning of the session, to break the ice and enable ideas to flow within the group, as I think this may help some group members make a choice about what to focus on.

The images above show some of the resources we used, as well as my completed vision board. I would highly recommend attending a workshop and making your own.