Why Coaching by Phone?

by Gloria DeGaetano

Some parents I meet are at first put off by the notion of being coached over the telephone. It seems so distant, so remote, so unlike what we stand for at the PCI in lauding the beauty of relationship. How does one build a relationship over the phone? Can you?

My answer is yes, absolutely, you can. I had the distinct advantage of having over three years of being on the receiving end of professional coaching before I founded the PCI, all by telephone. I was the client being coached. My first coach was a graduate of the Hudson Institute in Santa Barbara. She was wonderful and just what I needed to jump-start my motivation to begin looking in new directions. After over a year together we both decided that I was ready to fly and for about a year I went without a coach. My second coach was a graduate of Coach U. She was also very wonderful. With a feisty spirit, full of fire, she really encouraged me to be all I can be. Both these women are very dear to me. To this day we continue to stay in touch, share our triumphs and encourage one another as friends, no longer client and coach.

Parents coming to the PCI seeking coaching can certainly meet their coaches face-to-face if we have coaches in the area. I recommend at least one personal, initial meeting, if possible. But that's not necessary for the coaching relationship to be effective. Listening carefully, responding with care, and inquiring appreciatively are the cornerstones of the coaching conversation. Through voice and dialogue a lot occurs. There is an authentic intimacy that develops through these "ear connections." It is a deep understanding based on a high level of mutual trust and respect.

Most parents love the idea of not having to go somewhere, arrange transportation and child-care, and find time amid juggling busy schedules to "fit in" the coaching. When this happens, all too often the coaching becomes "just another thing to have to do" and loses its appeal quickly. Sally Kidder Davis finds that her coaching clients certainly appreciate the ease of phone conversations. One of her clients recently told her, "It's really convenient, the least disruptive way I can think of for accessing the support I need. For someone under stress, phone coaching is the least additive of stress." And why add stress to a parent's already full plate? Parents get excited about being able to have a coaching conversation in the evening when the children are in bed over a relaxed cup of tea, or at noon in the workplace when all their co-workers are out to lunch. Young mothers love afternoon sessions while their babies nap. They put their feet up, take a few deep breaths, and then feel recharged and ready to go after talking with their coach. I know one mom who made a habit of taking a hot soak in the bath during coaching conversations!

Many couples enjoy the benefits of the phone coaching, also. They both can be on the phone in the convenience of their home and then take the time after the call as a special "date time" to go over what was discussed. The immediacy of sharing ideas right after the call keeps their creativity high. No car trip to interrupt or to put off for later. The PCI even offers group coaching where two couples or four parents can be on a call together with a coach. Getting together this way is affordable, energizing, and many long-term friendships develop.

No matter what the particular circumstance, parents who have experienced PCI phone coaching comment on how focused their time is with their coach. Many are pleasantly surprised at the progress they make, seeing their preferred future at their doorstep, much sooner than they expect.

In an ideal world, we would live next door to friends who cared about us. Extended families would be readily available for child-care and encourage our self-care. We would be surrounded by a productive community that had our best interests at heart. Our parenting would be joy-filled and ease-full. How do we get there from here? We use what we already have to reduce our stress and reclaim our personal power. If our lives are spiraling out of control and our children suffer because of it, doesn't it make sense to take a few deep breaths, get comfortable, and make a phone call to an affirming voice and a compassionate companion on the journey?

Gloria DeGaetano, Founder and CEO of The Parent Coaching Institute, presents keynotes and workshops to parents, educators, corporations, and professional organizations. She may be contacted at (425) 449-8877. Her latest book is Parenting Well in a Media Age: Saving Our Children from the Corporate-Controlled Culture, Personhood Press, January, 2004.