Managing an independent Relationship Coaching business has been a huge undertaking, and while it's been very rewarding, it also has a few unfortunate drawbacks.

It's been a few months since I started and my clients are becoming more and more colorful by the week. With the COVID-19 disease making everyone lose their sanity, I'm finding that more of my clients have been calling and chatting not just to talk about their social relationships, but managing a relationship with themselves as well.

I've had time to reflect on their issues (as well as my own as a coach) and felt the need to list some things that are great (and not so great) about this line of work. I'm not complaining, but I'm compelled to share what happens internally for me when I handle clients and their situations.

If you have any plans to pursue a similar career, I hope this article helps!

If you need some coaching for your relationships or life in general, email me at contact@oliviapenero :) I'd love to help you.

The Importance of Relationship Coaching

Before I get started on the pros and cons, I'd like to highlight a few things. Being in the Philippines where this sort of job isn't considered something you can make a career out of, it's a bit difficult to explain what I do and why it has value for a lot of people.

I was once asked why I decided to do this and why my clients needed to be coached "if they had friends and family they could confide in", and that's the problem. Most of the time, they can't talk to their family or friends about their issues and if they do, they always feel judged. A lot of my clients are either from the US or Europe and if you look at it from the perspective of someone who's grown up with lots of third-level, fourth-level aunts and uncles, it's a hard thing to grasp.

Most Filipinos grow up with relatives living in the same house and/or having a huge circle of friends. Often when they have problems, it's either they drink with friends to get it out, party, or pretend it doesn't exist. Sadly, others even commit suicide 'cause they just couldn't bear the weight of their problem.

What relationship coaching does for people is giving them ways to connect, realign, reassess, and logically look at a problem from an outsider's perspective. We meet them where they are and help them get to where they want to be.

Don't mistake coaching with therapy: Therapy tends to focus on the past and diagnose what the problem is, whereas coaching tends to look at the present and the future, working with the client to meet their goals.

So if I do consultation and get a red flag that someone is mentally unhealthy or they need therapy and not coaching, I refer them to a licensed therapist. Diagnosing isn't our area, but we do have ways to tell if someone can be coached or not.

To quote a fellow Relationship Coach and licensed Therapist Diann Wingert, LCSW, BCD:

Coaches work with people who are basically healthy and functional but not reaching their full potential. Coaching almost always addresses an individual’s mindset and attitude by uncovering self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. A person being coached is assumed to have all the answers they need within them; the coach’s job is to facilitate the discovery of those answers by asking the right questions. source

The Positives of Relationship Coaching

I've always loved helping people. I also like helping them step back, think logically about anything they're going through, and help them form a solution moving forward.

Based on experience, here are some positives that have come from relationship coaching:

  1. The fact that I can help people get through a problem or situation is super great. I personally love being useful, so when my clients are successful in meeting their goals, I feel elated.  
  2. Sometimes, the people nearby can't provide a certain level of comfort we coaches can give. I often feel sad for clients who are obviously just in need of a good friend to confide in and talk about their issues with, without judgment. As a coach, we don't want them to feel like they're being judged and that we truly want to help them - which I do.
  3. As much studying as we've done to do our job well, there's still plenty to learn. Not one human is the same and often, similar cases lead to very different results - which means we have to approach their situation differently. Some responses work, some don't.
  4. As someone fascinated with human psychology, my career helps me hone my skills in communication, relationships, maintaining logic despite the problems, and figuring out what makes people tick. As I help others, I'm able to build skills for when I have to deal with my own problems. Yes, we do have problems too.
  5. I've had some clients come back to me after a few sessions who were able to turn their situation around for the better. Hearing feedback like that really motivates me to keep on coaching.

The (Somewhat) Negatives of Relationship Coaching

While I find my job exciting and valuable, there are moments when I get super tired or just not want to accept calls anymore. Yes, it happens - but so far, I've been able to motivate myself to never skip a workday. What's off about it all is that the effects are more mental and emotional. Here are a few:
  1. I wake up with a tight knot in my stomach. Not every day, but on most days of the week. I think some conversations I had with clients the day prior would stay in my head while I try to figure out more ways to help. That lead to me being stressed throughout the night.
  2. There's a tendency to get anxious and worry that I might not give the best advice. Coaching is about helping clients get through or move on from whatever they're experiencing, and coaches have to make sure to give sound advice. I truly grieve for those who feel hopeless, and the last thing I want to do is give them sub-par advice.
  3. Since becoming an independent relationship coach, I've been able to get a number of clients that I've become really invested in. I find myself treating their worries as my own, and absorb their problems so much it desensitizes me to my own. Yes, there have been times when I've been numb to my own issues because theirs is my priority.
  4. People who know I'm a relationship coach expect that I have no problems at all. They expect me to know the solution to their problems quickly and have all the time to help them. Much like a machine where they insert an issue and it comes back after an hour with a solid action plan that will solve it.

I am far from complaining about being a relationship coach. I have been super blessed by being able to work from home, still connect with people across the globe on a personal level, and help people who really need it. At times, I just need a break from some things, you know? Get back to my calm, safe place for a little while before coming back out to fight for others.

It's amazing how my decisions in the past have led me to this career, and while it wasn't easy to get to this point, there's nowhere else to go but forward. :) All I know is that I love what I'm doing now and have the chance to motivate and encourage others.