When I began my own coaching business four years ago, I offered packages of 10 coaching sessions. To be honest it’s what I knew from the previous company I had come from, so I followed that. I know that for most coaches this is a normal way of working, perhaps you offer 6 or 12 sessions, or agree a number of months you will work together with your coachees.
I believe coaches have been encouraged to work this way through their training and accreditation process, and my sense is that packages have been set up in this way to prevent ‘dependancy’. This is often spoken about in coaching as a way to differentiate coaching from therapy. The idea is that the coaches shouldn’t work with their coach for too long, in case it creates dependancy. Personally I’ve come to believe that it’s OK for people to depend on me, and that perhaps for some people it is essential they have an experience of being able to depend on someone.
After playing with coaching packages for a number of months, what I discovered was that packages inhibited my ability to really make a lasting difference to the people I worked with.
I experienced some things I couldn’t ignore:
- There was an expectation that after 10 sessions someone would be ‘fixed’ or their ‘problem’ solved.
- If the coachee didn’t experience that level of change in that timeframe, they turned it inwards and made it about something being wrong with them.
- As we neared the end of the package, coachees would delay completion by cancelling sessions. I could feel they didn’t want to finish.
- I needed longer to work with people to get to the core of what wanted to be expressed.
- I was controlling when the process should end.
- People needed to know they could depend on me for as long as they needed.
I work with a lot of coach’s and I much of what I teach is how to listen to the signs around you, and follow your instincts. So having listened to the experiences I was having, I changed my process. I stopped offering packages (full disclosure: I continued to offer packages to corporates at the time. Now all of my clients see me privately).
I set things up so that my coachee could decide how little or long they worked with me for. I made the process clear, so they could let me know a week before when they were ready to finish. I honour that they know what’s best for them, although there are occasions I check to make sure it’s truly time to end.
The result is that most people work with me for at least 12 months, the majority of those people see me on a weekly basis.
What I’ve discovered is the more I show up for them, the more they can show up for themselves in their lives, which in turns leads to deeper transformation.