Lee: Well hi, Courtney, welcome to the Coach with Clarity Podcast. I'm so excited to have you here today.
Courtney: Thank you for having me on, I'm very excited to talk and figure things out.
Lee: Well, excellent. Let's get to it. What are some things that you'd like to explore during our time together today?
Courtney: There's so much, so many questions, so many things coming up. But I think it's mostly just confusion around like, how do I identify what I can bring to the table? I have a lot of ideas of things, but I am getting tripped up in sort of this need to niche. And like, identifying my perfect client, or my ideal client. Because as a therapist, I have an ideal client already, but they're my therapy clients. And since I haven't coached anyone, I'm not quite sure what my ideal coaching client would be, so.
Lee: That makes sense. So we're really looking at your audience, your clients, who you work with, how you work with them, and what you want to offer. So really kind of getting clear on those fundamentals.
Courtney: Yes, yes.
Lee: All right. When you think about your ideal coaching practice, what kind of work are you doing?
Courtney: Yeah. So I definitely want to do group programs. I want to have that one-to-one, or one-to-many interaction. Like I want it to be live, but also have the ability for folks to get that sort of course material, and run through a structured program. But then the one-to-many live would be flexible. My issue with that is that I feel like I also need to provide one-to-one coaching in order to get to that point. But I don't know if I want to.
Lee: So what I'm hearing is there's this belief that before I can do group coaching, I have to do one-on-one. One-on-one is going to get me to the group.
Courtney: Mm hmm. Yeah.
Lee: Okay. Well, what if we didn't do that? What if we started straight with groups? How does that feel?
Courtney: I mean, that would be amazing. That would be really lovely. You know, listening to all of your podcasts, and I know that you've said these words before. Like, it doesn't have to be that way. But it's the idea then of, “Okay then, how do I create a program without having to fully create the program? And have it just be, what it's gonna be?”. You know, it's like, how do I get that flexibility in there to learn, if I'm not doing one-on-one?
Lee: Yes. Okay. So you're exactly right, there are a myriad of different ways to create the coaching business you want. And while for some people that will include one-on-one work, and they'll do the one-on-one work, and that will inform their group offers. That's just one path. Admittedly, it is the path that I did, so it's the one that I'm familiar with. But that doesn't mean it's the right path, certainly not the right path for everyone. I am really a proponent of finding what is going to work best for you. And if anyone tells you, “No, there's only one way to do things, and it's my way”, that's probably not someone you want to engage with. So with that being said, if you do not want to start off with one-on-one work, if you want to go straight to groups, we can talk about what that might look like. And we can talk about how we can create a group as we go, so that it doesn't necessarily have to be fully formed before you implement it. And in fact, I'm an advocate for not doing that. I think there's other ways that we can approach it, so we can definitely explore that today. So how does that feel as we approach our conversation with that frame of reference?
Courtney: Yeah, that feels great. And I know that there's still questions around like, well, what would that work even be? But I know that I can, I can work through a lot of the bigger questions that I have around those things. So talking about the group program and how that actually works, not having to do one-on-one, would be really freeing and helpful.
Lee: Excellent. So at the end of our conversation today, what would you like to walk away with?
Courtney: I want to walk away with the feeling of actually being able to move forward and implement. To move forward and like, think about my audience and my craft with a group program, and know that that's okay.
Lee: So, how will we know if we've achieved that feeling?
Courtney: Usually when there's like that spark of determinism. I have a lot of action-oriented movement within me, there's a lot of momentum and will that's driving something. So you might not see it, but I will definitely know what it feels like.
Lee: Excellent. So it's an internal somatic experience, then. You know in your body when you've achieved that.
Lee: Okay. And is it safe to say that we're not at that point now?
Courtney: We are getting there. It feels like, “Ooh, okay, there is a possibility here”. But it’s like looking up at a big mountain and wanting to climb it, but not quite knowing how to do it.
Lee: So we're on the right track. But we still have some journeying to do together.
Courtney: Yes, yeah.
Lee: Okay. Before we strap on our backpacks and take that journey, let me check in with you and just ask why exploring this matters to you?
Courtney: Yeah. This is something that I wanted to do for a really long time. And I tried to get into this realm before I actually went to school for counseling, before I got my degree. I was trying to create a program, trying to find other ways of meeting people and serving people. But it just didn't feel right. I didn't feel like I had the tools that I needed. So going to school then gave me all the tools. And I love working with my therapy clients, I absolutely adore it. But it's still, there's still a want to create more impact, to reach more people, and to have more freedom, and how I show up with them.
Lee: Yes, and that is one of the advantages of coaching. We do have some flexibility inherent in the process, and you can show up in ways that maybe feel a little less constraining than in a typical therapy relationship.
Courtney: Yeah, yeah.
Lee: And I hear impact, I heard you use that word. Which also suggests like, you've got a big message, you've got something really substantial inside to share with the world. And coaching is a vehicle that can do that. Is that fair to say?
Courtney: That is fair to say. And I think because there's so many different avenues in my head of where things could go, it's sort of like the paralysis by analysis. Like what to do, how do I show up in this way? Where is that message?
Lee: Yes. Okay well, that might be a great place for us to begin then. If there's a lot of different ideas to explore, let's get those out on the table in front of us. So, what are your thoughts around the type of group coaching work you want to do?
Courtney: Yeah, so funnily enough, I feel like I have that structure of how I want it to be, the actual group. I'm very good at creating systems and structures. But it's the actual meat of it like, what will we be focusing on? And I think a really big piece that I've been struggling with is, how do I separate out my therapy work and my coaching work, right? Because I love working with trauma. I love working with clients who have childhood trauma, and also clients who are leaving religion, things like that. And while I think it would be lovely to work in some capacity in less of a therapy realm with people leaving religion, I have no idea how that would work. Because there's inherently so much unpacking, and processing, and trauma, that goes into that. So that's where I get stuck. Because if I just think about, “Okay, what do you know how to do, really well?”. Okay, it's systemising things, it's creating goals, learning how to create action towards them, and implementing like, let's do this. When I have my mind set on something, I get it done. People have said, “Oh, You know, that's manifesting, that's magic”. And it's like, it's actually just a lot of strategic planning and action. And I can teach you how to do that. But that also just feels like coaching, you know? Like, that's coaching. So, all of this to say that while there's all of these different ideas that are percolating, a lot of them feel like they can't be used. And a lot of them feel like, well, what is the special something that you have that wouldn't just be coaching? Which is where I feel the structure and the goal oriented stuff is, it's just coaching. So.
Lee: Can we go back a second to that point where you say there's things that can't be used? I'm curious what that's about, like, what are those things? And where's that message coming from?
Courtney: Oh man, that message is just complete and utter fear from the board. Complete and utter fear that I would be stepping into a realm that is out of scope for coaching. Like, even though I know how to work with it, it's not appropriate. And I know that there are coaches that work in those realms. But it feels like because I am a therapist, I need to have a very strict code within myself on what I'm allowed to work with outside of the therapy room.
Lee: This is a concern I hear from a lot of therapists. It's one that I myself held as well when I was practicing both therapy and coaching. I'm now still licensed, but only practicing coaching. And there is this desire for us to say, “Okay, I'm carving this out as therapy, and I'm carving this out as coaching and they're completely separate. Never the twain shall meet, and I'm going to be safe. And no one from the board is going to breathe down my neck. And you know, the licensing police aren't going to show up at my door, etc, etc”. The fact of the matter is though, there is a fair amount of overlap between these two professions. The overlap, at least the way I see it, has to do with some of the skills we use and the tools we use. You know, there are approaches and tools we use in a therapy setting that are very similar to what we use in a coaching setting as well. What I find helpful is to be really clear about the differences in the Who, the What, and the How, of both approaches. So, who is my therapy client? Who is my coaching client? What differences can I identify in those two populations? And then the What is, what does each group want? What is the ideal outcome for a therapy client? What is the ideal outcome for a coaching client? And then the How, that's where we kind of look at what is that structured approach that I take in coaching, versus therapy? So when we view it through a kind of a Who, What, How lens, and we can choose one of those to start with, because it's a little easier than trying to do all three at once. But if we were to choose one of those, how could we separate out your therapy work from your coaching work?
Courtney: Yeah, I mean, I feel like it could be very different work just with shifting the How. Even if they were the exact same client, shifting the How would create a completely different energy. The issue being that I know that How can also fall into the realm of therapy. So like, how do you really separate that out to say, this is not therapy, you know? Because even with a solution focused CBT, that's so much more, in my mind, along the coaching realm. If there's no processing of trauma.
Lee: Yeah and I would say, certainly within coaching, when you are working with a trained coach, they understand how to have a trauma sensitive view without actually doing in depth trauma work. Many of the people that I've worked with have trauma backgrounds, in terms of like they have experienced trauma. Coaching is not where we work through, and parcel out, and do the healing with that trauma. That's the realm of therapy. The way I think about it is, so often those of us who have experienced trauma, if there's been a traumatic event whether one time or over time, we have kind of fused our identity with that event or series of events so that what happened becomes an integral part of who we are. Therapy is a wonderful way for us to start to separate the identity from the events, so that we create space so that our identity isn't completely fused with it. Yes of course, our experience living through and healing from that trauma shapes who we are. But there's some distance there, there's some separation. That separation can occur through a therapeutic relationship. And then, once we kind of have that, and there's been some healing, and there's been some diffusion, coaching helps us then say, “Okay, how do I want to live my life now, so that this experience I had with trauma doesn't define me, but it does inform me?”. And so that's also kind of a subtle difference that might be worth considering through a coaching lens. What are your thoughts?
Courtney: Yeah, that, that makes a lot of sense. And that feels really good too, to be able to think about sort of stepping into the next realm with the folks that I already feel really drawn to work with.
Lee: Yeah. This is where when we look at the What component, you know? What is, what does my therapy client want? What does my coaching client want? The therapy client wants that separation, they want to feel like they're not wholly defined by their traumatic history. The coaching client wants to know what's next. This is a part of me, it is not all of me, where do I go from here? And so that then can tell us about the Who. So, what I'm hearing from you is that in many ways, the the demographics of your client, you know, age, sex, etc, might be pretty similar between therapy and coaching. Even the psychographics, what they value, what means the most to them, what drives them, what motivates them, there's probably a lot of commonalities there, too. And what I see a lot with kind of typical audience and niche work is look at the demographics, look at the psychographics. Well, for those of us, especially, who are licensed professionals who are moving into coaching, there's a third component we need to look at. And I call that the process perspective, we need to really look at where the client is in their process. If we think about their timeline, their personal timeline, where are they in their journey? And so that same person may be better suited for therapy at one point in their timeframe, and for coaching in another. And so really, understanding that personal timeframe is going to be very important in terms of establishing who's the best fit for which program. And we can talk about that later when it comes to your group program, and how you vet people and ensure they're the right fit. But that process piece might be really important for you to consider as well.
Courtney: Yes, that actually feels like the most important aspect, because it really doesn't matter the demographics of my ideal client. More like, what is it that they have already shifted in their world? And where are they then going in that process? That feels more like they would need to all sort of be in about the same realm for it to be successful.
Lee: That makes a lot of sense. And again, I want to acknowledge the fact that not every therapist operates from a strict medical model. And many therapists are strengths based and solution oriented. And again, this is why there's overlap between the two professions, because coaches are too. It sounds, though, that the people you would want to serve in a coaching capacity are really fully into the post traumatic growth piece.
Courtney: Yes, yes.
Lee: Some of that happens maybe towards the end stages of therapy, and then coaching can come in and really continue that.
Courtney: Yes. That is such a wonderful distinction. Thank you.
Lee: I'm so glad that resonated with you. So how are you feeling now about, okay, who is this for? Who am I working with? How do I separate the two?
Courtney: Yeah, that all actually feels pretty solid. Like, I feel like I have the necessary ingredients to then go really dig into the details of all of those things.
Lee: Excellent. And you mentioned before you're feeling really solid about the structure and what it would look like, that's really your area of genius.
Lee: So what else if anything, still feels a little fuzzy when it comes to running a group program?
Courtney: Well I think that you hit the nail on the head of, how do you vet those people to make sure that they are actually meant for this, this next step?
Lee: Yes. So there's many different ways that we can do that, and I want to let you know that I think you're already doing some of them. Because I went to your website, I checked out your website, I saw the page about integrative coaching, and really talking about, “Is this right for you, or is therapy right for you?”. And so some of the way we do the vetting is through the language we use, both the content, and also kind of the emotion behind it as well. So we want to make sure that we're using language in terms that really speaks to that coaching client, that acknowledges where they're at in their process, so that they see themselves in the story that you're creating. And they're like, “Yep, that's for me”. And again, because of the population you're working with, I think some exclusionary criteria will be appropriate as well. Not like that they can't do this one day, but if they've not already done this type of work, if they've not already had this experience, that needs to come first. So it's almost like a prerequisite. So that might be helpful, too, is to think about what are the prerequisites my ideal group coaching client would need, so that they're fully prepared and ready for this group experience?
Courtney: Yes, yeah. And so then that could be items that I could put on my website, but also things that I would check in with them about during the discovery call.
Lee: Yes. And I'm glad you brought up discovery calls, because I think especially for your first round, or your first few rounds, having that one-on-one interaction with someone is going to be so important. Because that will give you a great sense as to whether they are in fact ready for your program. You'll get that through some of the questions you ask and their responses. But I also get the sense, you're going to get that feeling in your body as to whether this is a fit, or whether there's something that may not be quite right. Do you feel that?
Courtney: Yeah, definitely.
Lee: The other thing to think about is whether you want an application process for your group program. So if you have an application that has some of those questions, that will also help you screen in advance, “Okay, yes, this sounds like a perfect group coaching client. Nope, I don't think so”. Or if there's questions, that's something you can explore in a discovery call as well.
Courtney: Yeah, that makes sense. And so that would be, that next website application discovery call, and then moving forward. And, and then there's the aspect of wanting to make sure that there's group cohesion. I know that we talked about that a lot in therapeutic groups, but I feel like it's probably just as important in coaching programs.
Lee: Yes, especially when there is a live aspect that requires students or members to engage with each other. So as an example, I don't have that kind of process in place for the Coach with Clarity Membership, because that's open to all. And as a membership, there's some interaction that you can opt into. So for example, there's a partner match program. So if you want an accountability partner, you fill out a separate application, I match you with someone. So there's some consideration there. But everything else about that membership, you're just kind of showing up to the calls and engaging with me. But you get to control how much engagement you have with other members, versus my certification program, which has peer coaching. And there's a lot of connectivity between the students. That is something I am absolutely screening for, which is why people can't just sign up for this certification program. We have interviews. I want to make sure that the people who are coming into the cohort are a good fit, not just for the program, but with each other. Because that is so important. And so I want to really reflect that back to you, that your instincts about making sure that these potential group members work with each other and that there is group cohesion, you're absolutely right. And an intimate group setting where they're working with each other and supporting each other, that is vital.
Courtney: Mm hmm. Okay. Yeah. I love this. This is definitely solidifying some of that process that doesn't feel quite natural. Maybe for the beginning.
Lee: Excellent. So let me check in and ask you to tell me how you're feeling in your body, in terms of this feeling like, “Okay, I'm ready to go, I'm ready to implement”. Where are we with that?
Courtney: We're at like a 70%. There's, there's obviously going to be fear. Because, I mean, I think that's a healthy aspect of doing something new. But there's still questions of, you know, “Oh, my gosh, how do I do this? How do I, you know, how do I get my people? How do I start this?”. But that also feels like it's, it's just something that you do, you just do it.
Lee: Yes. I come back to the fact that you said you are an expert at creating systems. And I suspect you are going to be able to create a system that is really focused on marketing and welcoming people in. so I'm kind of planting a seed here, but that's going to happen. And I will also say that for beta programs, whether it's a group coaching program, whether it's one-on-one, whatever it looks like, personal invitations are often the best place to start. So if you already have people in mind that either could be great group members, or who are connected to communities where your ideal group members are, they could be great referral sources. And so that would be my first question to you, is when you think about the existing relationships you already have, and you don't have to name names, but who comes forward as someone or people that you would want to reach out to?
Courtney: There are a handful of people that, like you said, maybe they're not wanting that kind of work, but they would have connections to individuals that might. And even just like planting that seed and seeing if that even is something that people want, as well.
Lee: That's a great point, a little bit of market research is always helpful. And I will say, that is one of the advantages to doing some one-on-one work first, because you can kind of test out some of your ideas in the one-on-one coaching relationship, and you start seeing commonalities. You know, if you see that your clients have the same concerns, and the same obstacles, and the same desires, and dreams, then it's like, “Oh well, this would be a really good topic for a group program”. That being said, that's not the only path. And I think there are ways to kind of get that information without having to do one-on-one coaching, if that's not what you want to do. It may involve having conversations with people who are your ideal clients and just asking them questions. So it's not a sales call, it's not a marketing call. It's just an info gathering call. And you can hear directly from them what challenges they're experiencing, where they want to be, what they've already tried, and what they're really looking for, what would make a group experience valuable. That not only will give you ideas about content and what to include, but in listening to their language, you are going to hear how they describe themselves in what they want. And that's going to be valuable, too, because then that is what you use when you're talking about your program. And it's another way to ensure that the right people are finding you.
Courtney: Yeah, yeah, I like that. That's really helpful. I'm feeling at a 90%, just like, ready. There are two questions that I have, and then I feel like I am there, I can do this. So thank you, number one.
Lee: You’re welcome.
Courtney: But the first one is if I am long term looking to do a group program where there is already structured video module learning in a beta, I'm not going to want to do all of that back end, when in fact, that might not even be the appropriate learning materials or whatever it is. So would you suggest just doing more of the live and doing more interactive, psycho education, education instead?
Lee: I think you could. I also don't think it has to be one or the other. There may be some topics or things that you know are absolutely going to be in a program. Like you don't even need to conduct any interviews. You know this is central to your approach. That might be something you do, and want to record ahead of time and make available, and start to create like a content bank. And there may also be topics where you do want to present it live and record it. And then you can either repurpose that recording in future groups, provided if you're featuring names, faces, voices of other people, you would want releases from them. But you could just pull that live call in, or you could re-record it as, like a standalone just you in the camera kind of presentation. I think you've got some wiggle room there. And I think you can really decide based on the topic and the timing, what's going to work best for you.
Courtney: Okay, perfect. And then the last question is, of course, probably the age old question of, do I charge for a beta program?
Lee: Yeah, what do you think my answer is going to be? Yes.
Courtney: Or it depends. But no, I'm assuming yes.
Lee: Well, almost every question it depends, right? But I think when it comes to this type of coaching program, there's absolutely nothing wrong with charging for it. There's also nothing wrong with doing it for free, if that's what's comfortable for you. But what I'm hearing is that you're going to provide a very comprehensive group program that involves recorded material, live calls, there's going to be interaction and engagement with you, with each other. There is such value in that, that it's like, why wouldn't you charge for that?
Lee: The other thing, from a consumer psychology perspective, is that people tend to be more committed, and more consistent, when they have invested. Now that investment does not have to be financial, you know, we invest time, we invest energy, there's other ways that we invest ourselves in something. But certainly, when we have paid for something, we want to see that through, we want to get that return on the investment. And so even if it's just a nominal fee, having someone literally buy in can improve engagement, and really enrich the programs. So that's another reason why I tend to favor, even if it's a beta rate, and I fully support beta rates, I did it with the membership, I did with the certification program, anytime I'm doing something new, that's probably going to be my lowest rate, and then the next time it will increase. That's another way to kind of draw people in as your founding members, or as your inaugural group. So yeah, my preference is to charge. And it's okay if you decide not to, or to do it at a significantly reduced rate. You asked for my opinion, so I gave it. But you know whose opinion really matters here? Yours. What are your thoughts about this?
Courtney: I mean, I think I am right along there with you. It feels like there's going to be so much that's offered, it doesn't feel like I would be honoring my time, or allowing them to honor the space, if it was completely free. Granted, I don't feel the need to charge a ridiculous amount of money for a beta. Ridiculous for me, I will say. But yeah, some kind of payment I think is the right step forward.
Lee: Yeah. When we're looking at compensation, money is one form of compensation. But especially in a beta program, there are other ways that you can be compensated. So for example, when your members finish the program, and they have an amazing experience, because they will, then you can invite them to provide a testimonial, if they're comfortable doing so. That's a form of compensation. They're giving you something of value, they're giving you permission to use their words, their likeness, to bring other people into your program in the future. So a testimonial could be considered part of the compensation package. The other thing too, whether or not they do a testimonial, you'll probably want feedback about the program. What did you like? What didn't you like? What would you like to add? That feedback is valuable as well. So I think it's helpful when we think about how you will be compensated for this beta program. Money is one way but there's other things that you may want to set the expectation with your beta members. Again, I never require a testimonial, I definitely want people to have the option. But I do let them know if they're satisfied, I would be honored to receive one from them. And usually people are more than happy to do so after they've had a really positive experience.
Courtney: Right, yeah. And that's definitely something that I would want to have and implement. So, yes.
Lee: Excellent. So how are we feeling?
Courtney: Yeah, feeling really good. Feeling like this is definitely, definitely doable. And there's a very clear path forward.
Lee: Excellent. So, what else do you need for our time together today to feel complete?
Courtney: Man, I don't think I need anything more. Yeah, I feel pretty complete.
Lee: I'm so glad to hear that. Well, I would love for you to let people know how they can connect with you, where they can learn more about you, especially if they're intrigued by this burgeoning group program, and they might want to learn more about it. What's the best way to find you?
Courtney: Yeah, so I have, it's connected to my therapy business. So at some point, things will change. But I have a business called Waystone Therapy. It's at bythewaystone.com, and there's a bunch of ways that you can contact me through there. I'd love to hear from people.
Lee: Excellent. We will make sure to link to that in the show notes. Courtney, I just want to say thank you for coming on the show, for being so open about your business, and giving us a behind the scenes look at your program in development. And I hope you'll keep us posted on how things go.
Courtney: Yeah, thank you so much for having me on. It was wonderful. Absolutely.