Questions About Life Coaching:
Online Life Coach
Are you ready for an online life coach? As I’m sure you well know, in 2020, most of us had to find ways to do things online that we used to do in-person. But I’ve been specializing in online life coaching services for years, long before the coronavirus pandemic ushered in the Zoom era.
Each week I meet with clients all over the world, from Dusseldorf to Dublin to Dubai (as well as Denver), for remote coaching sessions that help them recognize and work toward their life’s most important goals. These online coaching sessions are every bit as effective and impactful as the in-person sessions I hold in my Denver life coach office — and sometimes even more so.
Meeting this way for coaching is growing in popularity (possibly the one positive thing that came from the pandemic years), with many people loving the convenience of meeting with a great coach no matter where in the world they are.
But… not everyone. I’ve found that, in general, people still fall into three camps when it comes to the idea of meeting with a life coach online: Freaked Out, Relieved, or Cautiously Open. Which are you?
Freaked Out About Online Life Coaching
There is a group of people who are mildly horrified at the idea of doing something so personal and intimate, as life coaching online through Zoom. Something about being physically present with their coach feels like an essential part of the experience. For them, the ritual of stepping out of life, driving to the office, and being in the “sacred space” of the coaching room feels important and helpful.
For these people doing life coaching online is not a plan. If this is you, fear not — You can meet with a talented Colorado-based Denver life coach, Denver relationship coach, Denver dating coach, Denver career coach, or Denver premarital counselor on our team for coaching services in person.
It is also true that there are people, or couples, for whom online life coaching or relationship coaching is not appropriate. A few years ago I was a guest of Clay Cockerell on his Online Counseling Podcast, and we discussed the pros and cons of online coaching extensively. I shared my opinions on when it works, when it doesn’t, and ethical guidelines that all responsible therapists and coaches who practice online should follow. Check out my interview on the online counseling podcast to get all the details.
Relieved To Have Online Life Coaching
The second group of people, when offered the prospect of meeting for high-quality life coaching online, have an “Oh thank goodness!” kind of reaction, due to its convenience. I personally fall into this camp. I am a huge fan of coaching. I’ve worked with a number of great coaches over the years, and have benefitted from it enormously. (Here is my “life coaching journey” story, which also includes information about the cost of life coaching, if you are interested).
But, I had to break up with my last coach because she couldn’t / wouldn’t meet with me online or by phone for our sessions. As much as I loved her and enjoyed our meetings, between running my business, seeing my own clients, and being a wife, mom, auntie, and friend, I am just so ridiculously busy that every time I had to stop what I was doing, find my keys, go flying out of the house and drive 20 minutes to her office (thinking, “I-do-not-have-time-for-this” the whole way), sit around and flip through a magazine, have my session, and then drive home… It felt like a huge chunk out of my day. She did have hot tea in her waiting room, which was nice. (But I’d rather have hot tea in my house so it was a wash).
If I planned the meeting during work hours, I felt like I wasn’t getting important things done. If I scheduled it after working hours, it required me to take precious time away from my family. I don’t know about you, but time feels like my most precious resource. The time investment was the biggest reason I stopped going to coaching.
Meeting for online coaching can be a time-saver in less obvious ways as well. I now personally work with an online coach who is a gem. She is in a different time-zone, and I am an ultra morning person so we meet at 7 am MT, which is perfect for me (and I also don’t have to take time away from work or family to see her).
But the nicest part is that I have a quiet period before with my coach to plan what I’d like to talk about, do some journaling, reflect on how things have been going for me, review what I’ve been working on since our last meeting so I can update her. Not having to rush around like a maniac or meet at times when I’m distracted helps me use my time in coaching more effectively.
Coming and going from an in-person meeting requires settling in, and then getting ready to leave once I’m through. That transition time is time I can’t spend mentally preparing for the session, or processing takeaways once it’s over.
Doing life coaching online also helps me stay motivated and maintain momentum. Meeting with a coach can be an invigorating experience, and I often feel motivated to take immediate action after a session. I leave my coaching notes on my desk, and once I’ve breakfasted the children and gotten officially ready for my day, I have my action list right in front of me. (I can assure you that if I was meeting with her in an office somewhere those notes would go in a notebook that I would forget to look at by the time I was sitting at my desk again.
When I meet with a coach online, I’m in a better position to seize on that motivation as soon as the session ends, rather than shifting focus to traveling home and likely losing some of that energy in the process.
This works so well for me, personally. Even before the pandemic, I convinced my psychologist consultation group (all here in Denver) to experiment with video meetings and we never looked back. We have our monthly meetings at 8:30 in the morning and I have my phone propped up on my bathroom mirror as I’m getting ready. We call this the “Lisa Makeup Show.” (No I do NOT have a TikTok). There is no way that all five of us busy psychologists with practices and kids would get together as regularly if we had to add drive time to the process. And I usually wind up embarrassing myself when I try to apply makeup in the car.
I know for a fact that my online coaching clients love it too. They are just like me, and probably just like you, too: We just have a lot to juggle, and the convenience, time savings of meeting online makes everything work.
But… there’s even more wonderful layers to this story than the “easy” factor.
And those are — believe it or not — greater emotional intimacy and depth, as well as focus.
Virtual Life Coaching… Is More Focused
I started doing online therapy and online coaching with my clients in 2012, when this was still a very weird thing to do. Because of having over a decade of experience in virtual life coaching and virtual therapy, I can make a bold claim with confidence: Online life coaching is better, and more effective, than meeting in person most of the time. This is true for the couples I see for online marriage counseling, online couples therapy, and online relationship coaching as well as my individual coaching clients.
People are often surprised that I believe online coaching can be even better and more effective than in-person work. But here’s how I know this to be true:
I do both, or at least I did until the pandemic kept me out of my Denver therapy office for a while. Here’s what’s telling: Even though I was in my Denver office at least one day a week and was totally available for in-person meetings, I had clients who live or work within a mile of my office who still prefer to meet online most of the time. They feel like they get just as much, if not more, out of our work together when we meet through online video. (An experience supported by research into online counseling and coaching, BTW).
I have a nice office. It’s on the top floor of a big office building in Denver, with these giant west-facing windows and a spectacular view of the mountains. Actually, here’s a picture:
It’s great. I have a pleasant receptionist and I even have hot tea. I have had clients stand at my window, sipping their tea, and say, “I think I can see my house!” (pointing somewhere in the direction of Lakewood) before settling down on the comfy couch. We have a nice session… and then they never come back.
Don’t get me wrong, we keep seeing each other — I have clients I’ve known for years. But they just prefer meeting with me online.
They tell me that they like being in the privacy and comfort of their own environment when they dig into deeper issues. They feel like it helps them be more open and honest with both me, and themselves. They also like being able to share their home with me. The fact that I know what their curtains look like, or can check out the newly re-organized closet they are so proud of, or have virtually met their dog makes the relationship feel more intimate.
They also have more time to have their session too, honestly. The work is more focused.
In the office, by the time we are done messing around with the tea and admiring the view and making small talk and fluffing the pillows it is at least five minutes after their appointment time.
And then, I think because they know they need to shift back into “do things” mindspace (the finding of the keys, riding in an elevator, operating a motor vehicle)… they shift out of the reflective space where we do our deep work in coaching.
I can feel it: They are pulling out energetically much sooner than they do when we meet online. Online, they have all their time. They come in focused, and they leave our session seamlessly… but they stay in the growth headspace even after our session is over.
Before our time they journal and think. Afterward they take notes and do more journaling. They also often take immediate action on all the new ideas that often fall out of our sessions (instead of immediately having to shift focus to driving). I believe this is a crucial part of their effective experience in online coaching, and why it’s better than meeting in person.
Online Life Coaching Sessions… More Emotionally Intimate
People are definitely more focused and present with me when we do virtual life coaching. But it may surprise you to know that there is another reason why working with an online coach is better: It is more emotionally intimate, and deeper work happens as a result.
When you think about online life coaching, you may imagine an experience that feels distant or detached, or that somehow packs less punch than coaching you’d receive in person. In fact, most of my clients find it’s quite the opposite. Online life coaching offers a level of connection, convenience, and comfort that can actually lead to better results.
A good coaching relationship must involve emotional intimacy and connection in order to work. That’s because life coaching isn’t just about identifying your goals and working toward them (although that’s an important component!). It’s about better understanding yourself, your values, and the personal obstacles that have so far prevented you from making the positive changes you want to make. This can be deep, emotionally challenging work, best undertaken with a professional who makes you feel safe, heard, and understood. (More on these kinds of “atheoretical factors in counseling and coaching” and how they impact the effectiveness of personal growth work here in Evidence-Based Practices.)
So does conducting sessions remotely somehow compromise that connection, dampen emotional intimacy, or hinder trust between coach and client? As someone who coaches clients both online and in-person, I can tell you the answer is no (an answer supported by research into remote counseling and coaching, by the way). In fact, many of my clients who now prefer meeting with me virtually are the ones who had previously been in that third group of people who have feelings about online life coaching: The cautiously optimistic skeptics.
Cautiously Open (Maybe) To Online Life Coaching
Some people can’t stand the idea of meeting for personal growth work online and don’t want to try. (Valid!) Others, like me, couldn’t live without it. But I’ve found that most people actually fall into a third group: Cautiously open.
These are the people who are ambivalent about online coaching. They often have not had much experience using online video technology, or they just use it for work and don’t love it. They have anxiety about figuring out Zoom, just because they never use it. They imagine that during our virtual coaching sessions they’ll be “talking to a computer” and that their experience with coaching will not be meaningful as a result.
I often start working with these clients in-person at my Denver office. And then, at some point, they need to go out of town or I have to be out of the office, and the only way to meet is online. They trust me enough to grudgingly try it, but have low expectations. I walk them through the whole process of what online video conferencing platform is best for them (you can check out my “quick start” guide to online therapy if you want to know what I show them).
They’re often surprised by how easy it is, (“Oh! I just had to click on this little thing and now you’re here!”) but also, how emotionally intimate it is.
I remember the first time that I met with a formerly in-person client online and had the most amazing session: She was cuddled up in a blanket with her tea, petting her cat in the emotional safety of her own living room, and was finally able to talk about some things that had felt too tender to bring up in the office. Like, really important things that we had never talked about before, because they were hard things.
At the end of our first online coaching session, we reminisced about how worried she’d been about “talking to a computer.” (Like my head was going to turn into a computer screen or something). She shared how the session actually felt more emotionally intimate, and she had felt more connected to me than she had in my professional office. She said it felt like she’d invited me into her home and we were together in her living room. I’d met her cat. She felt safer than she ever did in my office.
Online Life Coaching Goes Deeper
I think that’s true for all of us, isn’t it? Being in a safe, familiar environment, like your home, can make it easier to access the deeper feelings that often surface through coaching. These feelings aren’t just valid and worth recognizing for their own sake; they’re an important source of data about what really matters to you, which is the guiding light of the coaching process.
Good coaching provides a space to talk about things that are emotional. If we’re doing dating coaching together, we need to talk about why your last relationship ended. If we’re going to do anything meaningful together in career coaching, we need to be able to talk about the limiting beliefs you hold about yourself and your potential.
Would you find it easier to do so in an office building, or on your living room sofa? I’m guessing you’d have an easier time getting in touch with those feelings from the comfort of your own home. When you’re “out” you are — even if you’re not conscious of it — reserved. You are in “publicly appropriate” mode. You have on shoes. You keep it together, in a way that is not actually helpful if you want to do meaningful growth work, truly.
But when you’re home, you feel less buttoned up. You know, even non-consciously, that it is okay to cry. If you do make contact with big emotions in an online coaching session, you don’t have to worry about hiding your red mascara-streaked face from my receptionist, or your fellow travelers in the elevator on the way back down to the parking garage. You can go deeper, and that’s a good thing.
Online Life Coaching is More Fun!
One last, very fun, facet of emotional intimacy that happens only through online life coaching is the “boots-on-the-ground” aspect of having your coach be your success partner — we get to see you in your natural environment!
I cannot even tell you how much I love being an online life coach with a little window into the lives of my clients, literally. After all, it’s one thing to see someone in the office each week; it’s another to see what’s happening in their kitchen, or the newly-reorganized closet they’re so proud of, or the dream board they have on the wall of their office.
I can be a cheerleader, but I can be more helpful too. On more than one occasion I’ve met with a client feeling very stressed and overwhelmed, and I can say things like, “show me your calendar?” Or “show me your workspace?” To get a better sense of what they’re doing, in practice.
And of course, with so much of our lives being online now, I can ask Dating coaching clients to show me their online profiles, I can send (and work on) online files with clients, and it’s just where the action is.
But the fun part is real too. I have been on vacation with my clients, I have seen their newborn babies, met their partners, met some parents, I see their new cars, and I love it. I think they do too — I am officially a part of their lives, and it is good for our coaching relationship.
Life Coaching Online: Because it Works!
For many of my clients, online life coaching isn’t just the nicer option that they prefer, it’s the only option.
Here are a few life situations that can make online coaching a must:
Relationship Coaching For Long-Distance Couples
As you know well, if you’ve ever tried it, being in a long-distance relationship isn’t easy. Long-distance couples have unique stressors and challenges, as well as strengths and opportunities. To figure this all out and maintain a strong bond across the miles, many long-distance couples could benefit from working with a coach or counselor.
Unfortunately, the very factor that makes these relationships tricky — geographical distance — also makes meeting for in-person sessions really difficult. (I mean, we have had long-distance couples both fly in for intensive sessions at our Denver marriage counseling office, but that is not exactly convenient).
Luckily, relationship counseling and coaching are totally doable online, and every bit as effective as their IRL counterparts. Because we do so much online work, we have not just very experienced marriage and family therapists who practice coaching on our team — our relationship experts have a great deal of specialized expertise in how to help long-distance couples, specifically.
Our long-distance couples meet with our relationship experts by three-way video call, and get the same amazing relationship coaching experience to help them to strengthen their bond and work through their challenges, even when they’re thousands of miles apart. Learn more about online marriage counseling, online couples counseling, online relationship coaching, online premarital counseling, and our long-distance couples therapy services.
Online Coaching For Business Travelers
For those who travel frequently for business, online coaching allows them to stay connected with their growth work, whether they’re at home or in a hotel room. This keeps clients motivated, accountable, and moving forward, despite the inconsistent nature of life on the road.
Frequent business travelers normally have careers with an abundance of responsibility and stress, and online coaching helps them to not just manage stress effectively, but prioritize their personal growth and professional development in spite of that.
Online Couples Coaching For Busy People with Kids
When couples have children, scheduling a simple meeting can suddenly feel like aligning the planets. The irony here of course is that many couples really need support around how to parent effectively together, not to mention figure out how to stay emotionally connected, maintain physical intimacy, and also work as a team. It’s a lot.
While couples with kids who care about their relationships and their families are very motivated to invest in marriage counseling, it can be truly challenging, logistically, to make it happen.
For this reason, some clients who live down the street from my office prefer online sessions, because it lets them meet with their coach or counselor without jumping through logistical hoops to be in the same place at the same time, not to mention hiring a babysitter or fighting traffic.
People with young children can schedule a session during nap times, once the kids are down for the night, or while older children are watching a movie in the other room. Online marriage counseling and coaching allow busy couples to prioritize the important work that keeps their marriage — their family’s foundation — as strong and healthy as possible.
Online Coaching For International Life & Tech Nomads
When you’re seeking a life coach, you want to choose the best fit for you, rather than being constrained by who’s available in your immediate area. Since I specialize in online counseling and coaching services, clients from all over the world can choose to work with me. In fact, the majority of my coaching clients aren’t even based in Colorado. They live across the U.S., as well as across the globe. I coach people in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America, and I absolutely love it.
Working with international clients has given me insight into the cultural psychology of people from all over the world, as well as an appreciation for the unique stressors and challenges that people living in a culture that differs from the one in which they were raised face. These cultural differences often arise with online career coaching clients, or leadership coaching clients working abroad, or in relationship coaching for bi-cultural couples.
Online Coaching For Tech Nomads
A growing number of people are living a “location independent” lifestyle, making their living online while perpetually traveling. I’ve worked with more than a few of these nomadic souls, connecting with them from a coffee shop in Bangkok, from their RV in Quartzite, AZ, or a public library in Lisbon.
I know from my own life experiences that digital nomads are independent, open to new experiences, and constantly seeking higher purpose in their lives — qualities that make them highly coachable. Fortunately, the same tools that make it possible for digital nomads to work on the road also make it possible for them to invest in coaching, wherever on Earth they happen to be.
Online Life Coaching: Brings You The Best
Growing Self’s emphasis on online coaching and counseling allows us to transcend the limitations of geography, not only when it comes to our clients, but our coaches and counselors as well.
Online coaching has allowed me to assemble a team of incredible experts from across the country. I have people on my team who have unique, specific strengths and skill sets and who are licensed in multiple states. We often work together as a team to ensure that you’re working with the right coach who is going to be most effective at helping you.
Through our practice, Growing Self, you have access to world class, highly educated experts with a diverse range of skills and experiences — all ready to help you build more love, happiness, and success into your life, at your convenience.
Similarly, I have people seek me out from all over the world because they are fans of my podcast, or they’ve read my book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love.” They know that I have very specialized experience and uncommonly productive strategies for helping people move forward, feel happier, mend relationships, and heal after a divorce or breakup. Our ability to work together online gives you access to all of that life-changing work, no matter where in the world you live.
Online Life Coaching: Because It Works
My guess is, once you try online coaching, you’ll love it. If you’re interested, you can learn more about how online therapy and coaching sessions work logistically, and be supported as you try it out. If you’re on the fence, you can also take advantage of the free online coaching consultation sessions we offer. You can request a free online coaching consultation here, or call us 24/7 @ 720-370-1800 (or 1+ 844-331-1993 internationally) for personal assistance. (You can text us at 720-370-1800 too, if that’s better for you).
Once you schedule your free consultation, whoever you’ve scheduled with will follow up with you to say hi, and make sure that you have everything you need for your first online meeting.
If you and I are meeting together, during that first consultation you can get to know me, and I can get to know you. We’ll talk about what’s been going on in your life, your hopes for the future, and what working together might involve given your specifics. If, after talking, you feel comfortable with everything we can continue to meet until you’ve achieved your goals.
I hope that this article about what it’s really like to work with an online life coach helped you gain understanding about the benefits of online coaching, and put to rest and lingering anxieties about whether or not this approach to personal growth work would be the right one for you.
If you have more questions, get in touch! We are all here for you.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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