|Thinking about changing careers? Need to
lose weight? Craving more balance in your life? Hoping to climb
the corporate ladder? The goals might sound vastly different,
but the means to reaching those goals could be the same: Hiring
First, some clarification: Coaching and therapy
are very different. “Therapy looks back and assumes
there is a diagnosis,” says Pat Barone, CPCC, of Catalyst
Coaching LLC. “Coaching assumes that you are perfect,
have all the answers and moves you forward … Just like
in sports, if you want to perform at a high level, you need
Mary Kay Aide, M.A., of This is Your Life Coaching LLC has
a 20-year background in counseling, which she says is helpful,
“but coaching doesn’t really get into the emotional
piece. I don’t deal with analysis—you are who
So, if you are who you are—and you’re perfect--how
can a coach help?
“I help people find the work
they love,” says Keri Coffman-Thiede of Amaze Yourself
Coaching, who has a psychology degree and worked in the fields
of counseling and recruitment before receiving her coaching
training. “Some of my clients have gotten disconnected
with how they came to their field. I get them re-connected
to their passion. It’s mostly about clarity about what
matters, then taking action on that.”
With each new client, Coffman-Theide holds a face-to-face
“discovery session,” which may last up to two
hours. Typically, the coaching continues for three months
with weekly coaching sessions of 30-45 minutes. “We
end each session with an assignment to take action, and an
inquiry—a question for them to ponder throughout the
week.” Coffman-Theide and her clients often exchange
e-mails between coaching sessions.
“It’s not the same process for everyone, because
you use what the person brings,” she says of her clients.
“We go underneath the surface questions and trust that
the client really knows what they want. I’m always listening
for when they light up, get enthusiastic or their voice changes.
You take them to their experiences and help them become conscious
of it. You do that by asking lots of questions.”
“It’s so important, I think, that people do what
matters to them,” Coffman-Theide continues. “When
you’re ready to be doing more than just getting by,
just making a living, it’s time to see a coach.”
Mary Kay Aide’s coaching niche is in helping clients—mostly
women—find balance between their professional and personal
lives. “I work with men, but they have different issues,”
she explains. “They don’t feel responsible for
both work and home, plus ownership of the kids’ schedule.
Women have a harder time because we’re caretakers. We’re
good multi-taskers, but it’s hard.”
Like Coffman-Theide, Aide has a basic coaching process that
is flexible to fit each client. The five-step process is fluid,
says Aide. “We touch on each stage then go back and
go through them again more deeply.” Those steps are:
- Finding vision. What would life be like if it was perfect?
- Looking at values and priorities. Do the client’s
priorities match her behavior?
- Letting go of the guilt. Clients have to believe that
they deserve balance and that they’re worthy of
- Taking action. A client may need to learn to say “no,”
practice what she wants, de-clutter her life and let go
of what’s not important.
- Being nice to oneself. Sometimes clients need to delegate
more at work and ask for more help at home from family.
Aide says that, ideally, this process takes a year. During
the first weeks of coaching, she may meet with a client weekly
but by the end of the process a monthly phone call or e-mail
check-in is all that’s needed.
“My favorite part is that people feel so good about
changing,” Aide says. “It’s nice to see
the growth and the changes. It happens so much faster than
in therapy and it’s not as painful. It’s a lot
more fun and playful; you’re always moving forward.”
The coaching provided by Karen Ostrov,
Ph.D., of Konect Consulting, LLC,
is geared for the workplace. In fact, about half of her clients
are referred to her by their bosses or human resource departments.
“I help people
working in some capacity of leadership – at the top,
or a level down,” she says. “I help people run
a meeting better, speak more succinctly. My real forte is
in interpersonal communication.”
Because of Ostrov’s 25 years experience as a practicing
psychologist (she closed her private practice one year ago)
she has an extensive background in assessment tools. She may
use a number of these tools on a client, “then we look
at the results. I interpret the numbers and help people really
understand them,” she says. “Then we go on to
the implementation phase—an action plan.”
Unlike Aide, Ostrov works with an even number of men and
women. “Some of the men I work with wouldn’t go
to therapy…but there’s no stigma to talking to
an executive coach, especially when the company has hired
Ostrov works with her clients for six to 12 months and starts
to see changes in three to four months.
Along with helping people at the top, she also coaches those
who are being groomed for their next big transition. For example,
she may help with leadership transition, getting information
from a retiring CEO and passing it on to the incoming CEO.
“Executive coaching can really shorten the learning
curve,” Ostrov said.
A mental approach to weight loss
Pat Barone meets with clients who want to lose weight. She
also offers corporate wellness programs, presents seminars
and leads women’s retreats.
Her path to coaching started with her own weight loss—80
pounds that she lost five years ago and has kept off. “People
started asking for advice,” she says. First she became
a certified weight management consultant, then a certified
personal trainer. “I just kept adding to my skills.
When a heard about coaching and knew it would work between
the ears, that was the final piece of the puzzle. I had a
mental approach and my clients really started making big changes.”
Although her focus is on weight loss, Barone sees more than
physical change in her clients. “When you’re working
on yourself, you see other personal changes for the good—it’s
very organic,” she says. “People start to think
differently about themselves. It just naturally leads to a
better place in life.”
Debra Illingworth Greene is editor of Wisconsin Woman.
The growth of coaching in Madison
“Coaching has grown exponentially in South Central
Wisconsin in the past four years,” says Pat Barone,
program chair for the International
Coach Federation-Greater Madison Chapter. “When
I joined ICF in 2001, there were six or seven of us. Now the
local organization has more than 35 members, all of whom are
bringing excellent coaching to their clients throughout the
ICF is the largest worldwide professional association of
personal and business coaches, with more than 8,000 members
and 132 chapters in 34 countries. The association regulates
and governs the coaching industry and accredits coaching schools.
Barone said that soon the ICF will require coaches to meet
ICF standards of accreditation in order to call themselves
If you’re thinking about hiring a coach, Barone suggests:
*Ask about the coach’s training, their experience in
the area of expertise, their length of time as a coach, and
if they are credentialed or certified through ICF or through
their training school.
*Ask how many clients they serve, and ask specifics about
how the coach works (weekly versus monthly, phone or in person,
1/2 hour appointments or 3/4 hour, etc.)
She also said that no coach should ever work based on performance—for
example, if you boost your sales by X amount, you pay your
coach X amount or a percentage.
To learn more about the International Coach Federation visit