Counselors Turned Coaches: Lessons Learned

I hang out with a lot of counselors, therapists and social workers, and many of them are discouraged about the same things: clients who don’t seem to want to make progress, involuntary clients who come kicking and screaming, the long hours of supervision required to get one’s license, the amount of time spent doing paperwork and the ways they can be taken advantage of as they launch their counseling careers.

I recently spoke to a one-year graduate who told me she has been working in community mental health, gets the clients no one else wants and operates basically as a glorified case manager for most of her clients. She feels so disenfranchised that she is considering returning to school to get a different degree. This is definitely not how it should be when you have committed yourself to a life of service to others.

In 2004, I made the switch from counseling to coaching and have never looked back. I knew I wanted to help people, but I looked at the field of counseling and found it broken. When I was a counselor, I was spending more time writing notes and reports than I was actually working with people. This did not sit well with me, so I essentially stopped counseling and began coaching.

Lessons learned:

  1. A specialist can command a higher rate than generalists.

You are on the world wide web now. You are no longer competing with local practitioners; you are trying to stand out among the online generalists. Become an expert at solving one particular problem so you can stand out as the expert.

  1. It is critical to know your target market.

Who do you want to market to? Men, women, or both? What is their education level, where do they live and what job do they perform? What podcasts do they listen to, what television do they watch and what kind of books do they read? What are their hobbies? Do they have social causes and, if so, what are they? You want to know everything you can about the person you are trying to help. Make that person real by creating an avatar of your perfect customer.

  1. It is important to stay current with the solutions for the problems you solve.

When you are a generalist, it’s difficult to stay up on current trends. When you are a specialist, you can focus on the information that is being put out about your specialty. This way, you are always current and can become a curator of relevant information for your customers.

  1. Writing a book will open more doors for you than simply building a website.

The word “author” comes from the word “authority.” When you write a good book that matches industry standards, you will be further ahead than others without a book. Please avoid predatory book publishing companies. My publishing company, InsideOut Press, is a trusted source and would be happy to help you bring your book to fruition.

  1. Being active on the social media platform where your clients hang out is important.

If you are doing things right, you’ll be too busy to be all over every social media platform. Choose the one or two where you know your best customers are and stay consistent there.

  1. Keeping a blog about your target area will increase your exposure.

Writing a blog is one way to help your customers get to know you and will help with search engine optimization (SEO) if you write about the ways you help people with their problem.

  1. Writing articles about the solutions you provide will help your presence in Google searches.

This will help you appear on organic searches as the person to go to for the specific problem you solve.

  1. Maximize organic SEO by using your keywords frequently on your website.

While planning your website, be sure to consider the words and phrases you want people to find you by. Think of what your best customers will type into Google to find you and use those keywords and phrases throughout your website.

  1. Ask for endorsements.

When you have a satisfied customer, ask for an endorsement or testimonial. Videos are best. Use them on your website and in your marketing.

  1. Provide excellent service to your customers. Under promise and over deliver.

Be willing to provide your clients freemiums they don’t expect. Do not make promises you will not be able to keep.

If you want to become a coach or want to add coaching to your counseling practice, please check us out at Academy of Choice. We understand both the counseling and coaching businesses and would love to help you create a thriving coaching practice. We are also a board certified approved coaching program.

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