Clients frequently need support during the divorce process. They are not satisfied with the way things are and want a change, but that change itself is scary. Sometimes I suggest that they obtain the help of a life coach. There are two reasons for this: First of all, life coaches charge significantly less per hour than an attorney (similar to that of a therapist), and second, they are specifically trained to help in that way.
I spent some time discussing the role of a life coach within the divorce process with Heidi Krantz, OTR, CPC, ELI-MP of Reinvention Life Coaching. Here is what she had to say:
At what stage would one involve a life coach?
A life coach can become involved in the divorce process at any stage, from the initial decision of whether to stay in the relationship or leave to, “I’m divorced, now what?” They can also help with forging a new life after divorce. Many people have not dated or considered what they want in their new life. A little help from a trusted source can go a long way!
What types of issues can a life coach help with?
Life coaches can help clients navigate the legal process and organize what’s in front of them by breaking tasks into smaller steps to make them more achievable. Coaching helps with fear of the unknown in every aspect of their lives—from career transitions, new parenting and family roles, social changes, to changes in living arrangements. For instance, now that a client has every other weekend without the kids, what are they going to do with that time? How will they handle the intensity of having the kids on the weekend now that they have them with no other adult around?
A post-divorce decision, such as whether to stay in the marital home or get a fresh start somewhere else, is something a life coach can help with. Sometimes a client feels emotionally connected to staying in the marital home, but it doesn’t jive with their other stated goals. Coaching can help the client make a better decision. Clients may begin to actually feel enthusiastic about new possibilities and the need to “hold on” becomes less intense.
How does a life coach accomplish all of this you may ask? Through empowering questions that guide clients there; they just need to be emotionally ready to buy into the idea.
What is the difference between a life coach and a therapist?
There is some overlap between therapy and coaching; however, they can certainly complement each other. Many clients work either simultaneously or initially in therapy, then in coaching. The primary difference is that there is different training for a life coach than a therapist. The focus of the sessions is different. Therapy’s focus is often on past pain and why it happened. Coaching focuses primarily on now into the future and the question of how to get there. Coaching is a combination of emotional and practical support. After divorce a coach can help when the need to explore companionship and successfully re-navigate the world of dating begins.
Do life coaches work with people in mediation?
Absolutely! However, unlike a mediator, the life coach only works with one individual. The role of a life coach is to be a supporter of that individual and their life goals. Unlike the role of a mediator, a life coach is not a neutral party; they want you to succeed!
After speaking with Heidi, I believe that, for many clients, a life coach is a helpful tool toward achieving a better life post-divorce. There is a cost savings for the client in that coaching is significantly less per hour than my legal fee, and there is the additional benefit of having someone specially trained to help with those issues. This leaves me free to concentrate on a client’s legal or mediation issues which is my expertise. Then my client can come to me with a better understanding of what they want to achieve, and I can help them with that.
Why pay me to fight for a house you may ultimately decide you don’t want? Lawyers and mediators will draft an agreement based on what the client says they want. Using a coach to help you figure out what that is is a wonderful way to save time, money and stress.