Coaching Overview: What's it like to work with a coach?

A lot of people I talk to about coaching have never had a coach before and they have some valid questions before jumping in to a coaching relationship. I thought it might be worthwhile to share a few things to demystify the experience. Here are some common questions that come up with potential clients:

  • What do you talk about with a coach?

  • What is a typical session like?

  • What’s the next step?


In short, anything. We talk about anything that the client (you) feels is important and where they’d value some external support to move forward. Typically - when focusing on personal development coaching - topics fall into three buckets*:

What do you want? This topic is all about purpose, vision, values, goals and direction. Often clients want to work with a coach to get clarity on where their life is headed and what’s holding them back. They want more of something or less of something else. They feel some deep connection to a dream they once had that may be slipping away. Or they are frustrated with where they are and can’t seem to get out of their own wat. This can be a POWERFUL set of conversations that leave clients energized and ready to move in the direction of what they really want.

What are you choosing? The focus here is on areas where a client feels stuck - often due to a set of assumptions or a point of view. The work we do here is to open up the client to new perspectives to unlock the block. Sometimes a slight shift in perspective can dramatically change the game. These sessions tend to be less frequent and may come up within other work. These sessions are frequent within business and career coaching as limiting beliefs show up as a perspective the client is taking.

What are you experiencing? Big emotions - both positive and negative - are tough to work through on your own. It can help to have someone “sit with” you as you process challenging stuff. A coach can facilitate while the client identifies new insights upon which to grow. To be clear, this is not therapy, but it does feel quite therapeutic. Often the act of deeply listening to understand and demonstrating empathy in a safe space is all a client needs to process, gather insights and progress.


A session is pretty simple - and highly variable based on the client. In a nutshell, here are the steps:

  • Reconnect - this can be short or a little longer depending on how long it’s been since the last session and where a client fits on the introvert/extrovert line.

  • Choose A Topic - identify a topic for discussion based on what’s important to the client (most clients have something of value in mind already, but not always). At times coaches us pre-call prep forms to identify topics in advance, but the critical piece is identifying something that matters.

  • Ask Questions - Coaches use powerful questions and active listening to help guide the client to identify the core of the topic. This is where some of the magic happens when the client feels like things get much deeper than they’ve gone before.

  • Determine the Action/Inquiry - Clients and coaches co-create an action (or set of actions) to move forward relative to the topic. Or the coach provides an inquiry for deeper reflection and discovery.

Like I sad, the steps are pretty simple but they are powerful in the hands of a motivated client and an experiences coach.


If you want to give it a try, send me a note! I’m happy to connect with you for a free sample session. We’ll take about 15-30 minutes to follow the steps and you can see what it feels like.

I look forward to the opportunity to connect with you!

Note: This is specific to personal development coaching. The business and distance running coaching I do has a different feel to it. Business can range from career to leadership development and team building while distance running has an entirely different set of topics. I’m happy to set up a time for discussions on business or running coaching also. Much of my formal coach training for personal development is rooted in the Co-Active model from.CTI.

- Mike Sweeney, 

If you found this post valuable, please share it far and wide so others can benefit. If you’ve had a spark and want some oxygen to turn it into a RAGING FIRE, shoot me a note @ Maybe you want to give this coaching thing a try…