Are you meant to be a life coach?

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Rhonda Britten: And when you’re worried about insulting a client, it means that you either have a judgment yourself, and/or you don’t have the skill to have that fearless conversation.

You’re listening to Master Coach Mindset with Rhonda Britten, season two, episode three, brought to you by the Fearless Living Institute.

Welcome to Master Coach Mindset, a master class in the art of coaching. Hi, my name is Rhonda Britten, and I’m an Emmy Award winner, four time best selling author, and a master life coach since 1995. Each week, I’ll be sharing tips, tools and techniques that will uplevel your skills, increase your confidence, turning you into a master coach.

Hi, Rhonda Britain, Master Coach Mindset, and we are in season two, episode three. I love sharing everything I know about coaching with you. It is so exciting for me and I hope that you’re getting great benefit and hopefully, you’ve listened to the entire season one which is based on my master coach manifesto. And it really is the philosophy that I have about what it takes to be a master coach. And if you haven’t listened to it, please get over there because you are going to … Let’s just say, it is going to wake you up and show you where you could be thwarting your ability to be a better coach. So get on over to season one and listen to all 13 episodes to find out how you can become more and own your master coachness.

Season two is all about the eight coaching skills, and this is episode, as I said, three. In episode one we talked about the coaching skills themselves. We just gave an overview. Last week we talked about dirty coaching, yes, dirty coaching. Are you dirty coaching, or are you having true intention, and are you sure? So get on over to episode two. And today, we’re going to talk about the difference between coaching and psychotherapy, and as well as the importance of questions. So why ask questions? What does questions have to do with anything? So let’s get down to it, shall we?

I love when people ask me about coaching versus psychotherapy. And I want to say that when I was on Starting Over, and I did 300 … No, I did more than 300. Gosh, I did like 500 episodes of television for Starting Over in and of itself, and then probably another 100 episodes. I’ve done over 600 episodes of reality television. Every time that I was on the Today Show, or Good Morning America, or on Oprah, invariably somebody would ask me the difference between coaching and therapy, and it is so important to understand the difference so you know where your boundaries are as a coach, and even as a parent, even as a manager. What can you coach and what really needs a therapist, it really needs a professional?

So let’s just kind of talk about that. I might give you an overarching kind of theme, or I’m going to say, overarching concept about coaching versus therapy. It’s like what I say when I give a soundbite on Good Morning America, for instance, or Today Show. I always say coaching moves you forward from right where you are, right? Coaching is, I’m going to take you right where you are and move you forward, right? Right where you are, I don’t care where you are, I’m going to take you where you are and move you forward. Therapy heals the past. Therapy heals the past. Now, there are a lot of new therapies, cognitive therapy, there is fast action, I don’t remember the exact name, but fast action therapy, even positive thinking. Positive therapy is very similar to coaching.

So what the therapy world has done is they started to using coaching techniques, coaching skills in therapy sessions, which I think everybody wins. Everybody wins when therapists are working and using the skills of coaching. And I love training therapists on coaching skills because their therapy then becomes more broad, more deep, more expansive and they have a bigger toolbox. So therapists would argue with me when I say therapy heals the past because they’d be like, “No, I’m moving clients forward.” And some therapists are. So I’m talking about general therapy, kind of like the overarching what we think of therapy. And this helps me to determine when a client needs a therapist rather than coaching with me. And this is what I train my coaches to look out for.

So let me give you some for instances. Let’s say a client is telling a story over and over again. You know, it’s like my mother did this, my mother did this, my mother did this, a different way, but it comes back to the same theme. It comes back to the same anger. It comes back to the same hurt. It comes back to the same betrayal. It comes back to the same suffering. It comes back over and over again. And when you gently interrupt, when you attempt to move them out of that story, they’re very attached to it. If your client is attached to a story and you’re not able to move them through that, then I would urge my client to move into therapy. That’s one way. So again, client repeating the past. If a client has had significant trauma in their life, if they have been abused, sexually abused, emotionally abused, physically abused, verbally abused, and again, it’s kind of like it’s stuck on them, again, therapy is needed and necessary. Addiction. If your client is an alcoholic or having substance abuse and they’re active in their addiction, and even if they’re not active, to be honest, they probably are better served in therapy. If your client is cutting, or doing any sort of … it’s hurting themselves in any way, therapy. If they are suicidal, therapy.

So notice, I don’t have … I mean, I know a lot about trauma because I’ve done trauma therapy, and I’ve worked with trauma therapists, and I studied trauma because I’ve had trauma, and I know so many trauma therapists work, and I read books on trauma, and I mean, I’m just like, soak it up, but I am not a trauma therapist. I am an alcoholic. I know a lot about alcoholism because I have been an alcoholic. I am an alcoholic, right? I’ve been sober now 30 years, but alcoholism was part and parcel of my life for most of my life. Again, I know a lot about alcoholism, I know a lot about getting sober, but I’m probably not the best person to move my client through that.

So it’s not that we can’t help, it’s not that we can’t support, it’s not that we can’t do a little guidance and really move them, and that is not our expertise, and that is not what we’re trying to do. We don’t know family patterns and family therapy, et cetera. So I would strongly urge you, if you are a coach, a parent, a manager, and your client is coming to you, or your coworker, et cetera, is coming to you with these types of challenges, these types of opportunities for growth, then I urge you to suggest therapy.

Now, here is something that I know that happens to me frequently. One, my clients work with a therapist and me, right? So they’re working with their therapist on these issues, but they’re also working with me on moving forward. So a client can be in therapy and coaching at the same time, of course, as long as the therapist knows and as long as I know. We’re in communication with each other. Now, I may not talk to the therapist about the client, but we are in alignment, right? The client comes to me and says, “Oh, in therapy, I did this.” And I bet my client goes to the therapist and say, “This is what we did in coaching.” So we’re working together to support the client. So yes, you can absolutely work with a coaching client while they’re going to therapy, as long as it works for them.

Second thing I want you to be aware of is as a coach, I have coached many clients to go to therapy. Now, what do I mean by that? I’m going to think of one client in particular, I’m going to tell you a story about this particular client. Let’s call her M. And M came to me, she was a cutter, she was also bipolar, which I forgot to mention earlier. If they have a mental illness, therapy. If they’re on medication, therapy. And she was diagnosed as bipolar, she was cutting, she had trauma from her past, mother issues, and I knew very quickly after coaching her for a few weeks, I don’t even know if it was a couple months, I think was just a few weeks that I started recognizing that therapy is a better choice for her. When she was younger, when she was 15, 16, 17 years old, she had been in therapy, her parents sent her to therapy. And she was actually suicidal, and so she was actually in the hospital for suicide. And she had experiences with therapists, and it did not go well, did not go well at all.

A lot of people have that experience with therapists. They’ve tried to go to therapy, and it just hasn’t been effective. They haven’t gotten a very skilled therapists, which, of course, therapists just like coaches, there are some good ones, mediocre ones, great ones, mastered ones. Same as therapy, some mediocre therapists, some mediocre coaches. So they haven’t had a good experience about therapy and they don’t want to go back. And my client and was like, “No, I’m not going to therapy. I want to move my life forward, I want to coach with you. And that’s what I want to do and I refuse to go to therapy.” We coached for over six months, not only on her issues in life, of course, not only on the things that she wanted to work on, but I also kept dropping question seeds, nudging her towards therapy. It took me six months of coaching to have her agree to even research therapy online. And of course, I told her I would support her in any way, and so she like looked, right? She looked for somebody who specialized in cutting. That’s what I requested from her.

And so she looked, and the therapist was very far away. And so she was like, “No, not going.” And so we did research. She did research on the therapist, and went on YouTube, and Google, and read different articles, and watch different videos about the therapist, and she started to go on maybe. Maybe is just on the way to yes, so maybe. So this was good news. She’s moving forward. Now again, my intention during that whole in six months was knowing that therapy is the right choice for her. But because she had had a poor experience in the past and felt unseen, unloved, unaccepted, she didn’t want to go back. So like I said, it took me about six months to move her from being, no way to maybe. And then it probably took me another month to two months to ask her to call the therapist, to just have a phone call with her, to just to check it out. I think it was about the eighth month mark where she had her first session.

She came back to our session after the first therapy session and she was like, “I don’t know. I like it.” And I was like, “Great, no problem. And you got to go three times.” “What? I’m not going three times. “Just like dating, gotta go on three dates, gotta go have three dates with the therapist and just see.” And so through questioning , she agreed to do that, of course. And she ended up working with that therapist for, gosh, several years, two, three, four years. And then moved to another therapist for more trauma related, for different type of trauma, a different therapists, but she no longer, one, is afraid of therapists, which is awesome. Two, she is getting great benefit from therapy. Three, we have sessions occasionally now to check in and just to see her progress, et cetera, and she knows I’m here for her completely and I support her completely.

This is what’s so crazy, right? Like, this is how life works, they’re resistant, right? Whatever they resist. She’s actually going to school to become a therapist. How great is that? Because she was able to transform her relationship to therapy, she started to see the benefits of therapy, not only changing her own life, but also for those 15, 16, 17 year old girls that she used to be that have those therapists that don’t really understand what it’s like to be a 15, 16, 17 year old in the sense of going to therapy, and being frightened, and unsure, and insecure. So she has now dedicated herself to becoming a therapist for teenage girls. And if you would have met her before we started coaching, or right in our beginning of our coaching relationship, you would have bet money that that was never going to happen. Like, her becoming a therapist, she hates therapy. No, no, she is now becoming a therapist. She’s actually in the graduate program right now, and she actually has clients. I know, right? And like I said, I keep up with her.

That’s what your experience as a coach might be. Your client may have had negative experiences, or might have judgments against therapy, or think it’s for crazy people, right? And you as the coach actually coach them into therapy. That might be one of the main reasons you’re coaching with them. So again, coaches work hand in hand with therapists. Again, it doesn’t mean I talk to the therapist every week, or checking with therapist. Sometimes I do, but that’s not necessarily the norm. But it’s knowing your lane, what’s the coaches lane versus the therapist lane, right? What’s the coaches lane versus the therapist lane? And/or other consultants or other professionals, like what’s the lane? And our lane is to help a client move forward from where they are. And if they keep looking back, if they keep carrying their past on their back, if they keep parading themselves in a way that is challenging, or you don’t have necessarily the skill or the ability to move them out of, if they’re in resentment, and regret, and angry at a level eight, nine, and 10, probably therapy is a better option. So you have to have the courage, and the skill, and the desire, and the willingness to move them from your coaching client to a therapist.

Now, I also, what I love about Fearless Living is that we have a lot of therapists that have become certified Fearless Living coaches. So I actually have therapists that I can refer my clients to that actually know Fearless Living. So it’s a great bridge for many of my clients who say, when I say therapy might be a better option, they’re like, “But I love Fearless Living,” right? And I’m like, “Yeah, totally cool. You can stay with fearless living and have a therapist.” So that’s the great thing about certified Fearless Living coaches. We have so many certified Fearless Living coaches and there’re therapist that I can refer to somebody that continues the work that I do with my clients, as well as add the therapy component. Now, like I said, I don’t just refer to my certified Fearless Living coaches, I refer to anybody who I know could support my client, I have no problem.

Also the other thing that I want to mention is other modalities, not just therapy. So for instance, my clients might be doing Reiki at the same time they’re in coaching. They might be going to a meetup group, a personal transformation group. And a lot of coaches and therapists, there’s coaches and therapists that believe this, that you shouldn’t water it down, right? Like, “Oh, if you’re going to work with me, just work with me. Having too much input can negatively impact your growth and transformation.” And there is some truth to that. And what I tell my clients is, is that I invite you to … I don’t care who you work with, I don’t care if it’s me or somebody else, because I actually don’t. I want them to work with the right person for them. I want them to, in their mind, imagine that they’re going to be working with this person for the next two years.

Now, will it take two years? Maybe, maybe not. Will they stay for two years? Maybe, maybe not. But I want them to get the mindset of two years because to really get fearless living down to your depths, to really become a master coach, to learn a modality like meditation, or Reiki, or flower essences, it takes more than one quick session. And then I want them to think about depth and not quickness. I want my clients to think of integration and embodiment, and not tapping into like, “Oh, one more solution to a problem that I don’t get solved, because I keep flitting around from each thing.” And that’s what a lot of people do. They do one thing and it doesn’t give them immediate results, so they switch to another thing, and it doesn’t give them the results. And so they’re looking for the quick answer. And I take that away from my clients. I’m not interested in quick answers. I’m interested in transformation at the core. I’m interested in truly transforming how they see themselves in the world. Because as neuroscience shows us, that the key to true lasting change is changing the filtering system in which you look through, not necessarily having tools and skills all over the place. You got to have a filter, you got to have a way of looking at the world. And so I ask my clients to think about two years.

So as a certified Fearless Living coach myself, and as a master coach, I’m not threatened by my client going over here for this, and going over there for that. I’m not threatened by that. I do ask them if it’s appropriate, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t actually, just consider like, again, that two years, and we’re going to do it in increments, like I can work with somebody for one session and have a major change happen. But I want them to start thinking of the mindset of what has kept them spinning their wheels, and have they been spinning their wheels? And if they’ve been spinning their wheels, how long have they devoted themselves to one type of practice, or one coach, or one therapists? Have they allowed the depth to occur, or are they, again, looking for the quick fix,, the good feeling? And that will always dry up and end up not working in the long haul.

So I want to just open your mind and, again, you probably did this already because most coaches are self-help junkies themselves, don’t be threatened by a client that the best choice for them is therapy, or don’t be threatened if they’re going to trauma workshop, or if they’re going to a meditation workshop, or a Reiki session, or again, whatever they’re attracted to. Don’t be threatened. Just know that they’re getting little pieces that we don’t provide. I don’t do Reiki on my clients, right? So if doing that Reiki work, or energy work, or sound healing supports my client in body integration, I’m all for it.

So just be attentive to what you have judgments about, or what makes you move into lack and limitation, and what makes you think like there’s not enough, “Oh, they’re doing this, they’re going to like that better.” If you are a powerful, positive, masterful coach, that doesn’t even occur to you. You don’t you don’t even have to think about that. Because again, it’s not about, “This client represents money,” it’s about, “I’m here to serve that client. And if that means they go to Reiki for 12 sessions and only see me twice that month, more power to my clients. Because again, we’re all doing different pieces, different modalities to support the client to do their masterful integration. So there’s body work, there’s energy work, there’s spiritual work, there’s emotional work, so much.

Again, I feel a lot of those places because of my 23 years plus experience as a coach, and because of my own learning, and my own training, and everything I’ve done, but I’m not a therapist, and I don’t pretend to be. I don’t pretend to be a trauma specialist, and I don’t pretend to be an addiction expert, and I don’t pretend to be domestic violence intervene, again, even though I’ve done all those things, and even though I’ve helped people through all those situations. I want other people there to support my client who are experts, so that my client can be supported to the greatest possible way, right? So, it’s why I bring up coaching versus therapy and other modalities because I want you to be really clean and really clear about where are you triggered? Where are you in lack and limitation? What are your judgments? What are your beliefs? What do you think is okay and not okay? And again, it goes back to where do you get triggered? Where do you as a coach get triggered? Because that’s what you got to clean up.

So the question today, question of the day, “Rhonda, what’s the difference between a coach and a therapist? How do we know when to refer a client to a therapist while continuing to get coaching with us as their coach? How do you approach a client with a suggestion that they get therapy without being insulting? How do you talk about it?”

Well, clearly, I’ve already answered this question today, right? The whole podcast today. Season two, session three is all answering this particular question. But I want I want to bring this up because of the very last piece of this question. I’m going to repeat it. “How do you approach a client with a suggestion that they get therapy without being insulting? How do you talk about it?”

The fact that you think it might be insulting, actually talks about your mindset about therapy? It’s nothing about insulting, there’s no insulting in it. It’s another modality. And when you’re worried about insulting a client, it means that you either have a judgment yourself, and/or you don’t have the skill to have that fearless conversation. I have no problem talking to my client about therapy and bringing it up and going “Well, have you ever thought of therapy?” “Well, no, I love coaching with you. I don’t want to go to therapy.” “I understand. The question is, have you ever thought of therapy? Have you ever been to therapy? Tell me about your experience at therapy.” I just talk about therapy. So you can’t be like, “You need therapy.” That’s not really effective, right? Instead, you’re just going to bring up their therapy experience. You’re going to ask them, have you had therapy? What’s your experience at therapy? Do you have a therapist?

And again, in your intake form, when you’re taking on that private client, these questions should already be asked. I have on my form about therapy experience, do you have a current therapist, the name of your therapist. That’s all on my intake form. So you should already know that. And then when it when it becomes relevant again, like you start noticing, like, oo, gosh, and you know that they are not seeing a therapist right now, you can ask, “So tell me about your experience at therapy. Who is it last time you worked with a therapist? And what was the number one benefit of working with that therapist? Tell me about your experience. What changed? And how do you feel about the situation you’re in now? Could therapy be supportive, as well as coaching? Where does therapy fit in and where does coaching fit in?”

So I’m asking questions to the client to find out what they think of therapy, and how they’re processing therapy, and what their views of therapy are. So that’s not insulting, that’s having a fearless conversation. That’s a conversation you should be able to, as a coach, be able to talk to your client about anything. You should be able to ask them about their sex life. You should be able to ask them if they masturbate. If you are like, “Oh, my God, I can’t ask that,” then how can you serve your client to the fullest? If you’re afraid to ask a question, or if you’re worried about hurting them or insulting them, that’s about you. It’s not about the client, it’s about you. It’s about you. And you’ve got to do some work on yourself to move through that. So you as a coach, with the desire to be the best coach you can be in master coach, is any question and every question must be available to you. So again, if you think without insulting them, that says your judgment, it has nothing to do with the client. It has everything to do with you.

So what’s the difference between coaching therapy? Listen to this session again. If you feel protective or jealous of your client, like I don’t want them to do this with that because …, listen to this session again. How to talk to your client, or coach or client in order to get therapy, listen to this session again. And of course, if you want the worksheet that goes along with this session that is going to have more helpful hints about this, become a Master Coach Mindset Insider. Join the insider club because remember, every week, every episode, I create a worksheet that’s devoted to help you integrate every episode so that you are literally integrating everything we’re talking about in the episode, you’re actually doing the work right alongside me. So it’s not just listening, it’s actually doing so it gets into every cell of your being and start shifting your neural pathways. So, if you’re ready to go deeper, I invite you to join the Insider Club at

So next time we start skill one, episode four, skill one, what does it speak as if they’re innocent? We’re going to be talking about it next week. Until then, remember, you can be a better, more masterful coach. You just have to be fearless. Until next time, be fearless.

Are you serious about becoming a master coach? Do you want to learn the eight coaching skills that I teach my own certified Fearless Living coaches? Until now these eight coaching skills were reserved for students in my life coach certification program, but now I’m going to teach them to you. Join me at my three day live event, Fearless Conversations workshop for coaches only. If you’re ready to get serious about becoming a seven figure master coach, go to to learn more, and be sure to save your seat today. Seating is limited, so grab your seat at

This has been an episode of Master Coach Mindset, brought to you by the Fearless Living Institute. If you know someone who could benefit from today’s episode, please share it with them. I know they’ll be grateful. Until next time, be fearless.