Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

The Imposter Syndrome


I have been asked on several occasions if it would be possible to run a webinar on how to handle impostor syndrome. This has been on the back burner until recently, when it was brought to the forefront of my mind by two resources that both confirm that this is a real and growing issue. So instead of the webinar I decided to try and summarise some of the key points that were raised in these two sessions,  in the hope that we can better understand what is meant by impostor syndrome - in terms of how we deal with it ourselves but also how we work with clients who might also be struggling with self-belief – that persistent voice that says, “One day, someone will find out I’ve been faking it!”
So what is impostor syndrome?
Firstly, we need to differentiate between a real impostor many of whom do exist in today's often confusing marketplace. This person pretends to claim to have specific abilities, despite not having the background or experience. 

Many of us have impostor feelings, which on occasion, make us feel that we are somehow fraudulent -despite the evidence that we are not. These feelings usually pass and don't have a large impact on our lives.

Impostor syndrome however is when someone feels like an impostor most of the time and ignores hard cold facts.  These feelings can be powerful and if not debilitating and it will certainly affect what they think feel and do. We will often self-sabotage in an attempt to confirm our sense of inadequacy.  This gives us an alibi but does little to help us succeed or reach our potential.

But first, rest assured that if you relate to any of the latter two conditions you are not alone. Some of the most successful people report feeling like frauds or impostors despite the evidence of their talent and ability.
What is it?
Imposter syndrome has the following characteristics:

  • A lack of internalising success and achievements 
  • Discounting success 
  • Guilt, fear about success 
  • Perfectionism
  • Undervaluing ourselves
  • 70% of people experience it at some point and it is more prevalent in women (particularly executives).
Where does it come from?
There are many reasons why impostor syndrome exist.  Some factors include:

  • The roles we had in childhood - were we seen as the intelligent one? The hard working one? The survivor? Family dynamics often contribute.

  • Significant people in the early years can also contribute to our expectations, our beliefs and our self image. By learning what is valued and gets approval or disapproval, impostor feelings and/or syndrome frequently come from our early life experiences
How can we overcome it?
  1. Test the evidence
    People with impostor feelings use tricks to deny dismiss and discount the evidence that they are worthy talented or have deserved their position

  2. Look for the triggers
    Cognitive behavioural coaching can be used by identifying the automatic negative thoughts, testing their reality and looking for the evidence to determine if they are real. We then replace these negative thoughts with more accurate thoughts. e.g.   Negative thought -  “I won't be able to meet their expectations which means they'll find out I don't know very much.”
    More accurate thought -  “I've done well in the past. I know I'll be able to do most of the job and I have been told that I do this well.”   

  3. Remember feelings are not facts.
    To help deal with these feelings realise that impostor feelings are normal

  4. Set realistic standards and also prepare for mistakes

  5. Get external evidence and write down the facts

  6. Keep a record of your achievements
Working with clients who have Imposter Syndrome
As always, empathy is our best friend when helping others overcome challenges. By admitting that we have experienced impostor feelings ourselves, we will give reassurance to others to find out that they're not alone.

  1. Do not make blanket comments such as “you're fine; you're great” but instead point to specific evidence which impostors usually try to ignore.

  2. Help your client view a mistake as an opportunity to learn and as a normal part of the cycle of growth.

  3. Know that periods of change will often create feelings of this kind. Help your client by focusing on facts and clarifying expectations.

  4. Finally, support a growth mindset - the belief that we can learn and improve with practise -  instead of a fixed mindset which will result in a fear of mistakes and increase imposter feelings.

If you are a new or even experienced coach, cultivating this growth mindset is our best weapon to overcome the sense that we are not good enough.  In our work, we bring support to others at whatever stage we are at and all of us can always get better!

My First Six Months in Business with Sarah Rusbatch


Sarah Rusbatch is a qualified Health and Wellness Coach who trained with Wellness Coaching Australia through 2020. Sarah finished her course with the Passion to Profit business program. This article is about Sarah’s first six months in business and how she has built a global following and a viable business as a Health and Wellness Coach.

This article is an excerpt from two podcast interviews: one about why she was starting this business (Oct ’20), and one about how her business is going gangbusters! (Feb ‘21). 
It has been edited for length and clarity.

A Career Change
Before training as a Health and Wellness Coach, Sarah Rusbatch had worked for over 20 years working as a Recruitment Advisor, Executive Legal Recruiter and Career Coach at a global level.

But Sarah also had a growing concern about her alcohol intake and she had the personal experience of seeking help and taking steps to develop a better relationship with alcohol and ultimately, herself. With the right support over an 18-month period, Sarah stopped drinking altogether and as a result, found more meaning and purpose in life and a great sense of enrichment.

Training as a Health and Wellness Coach with Wellness Coaching Australia was a natural progression that helped her to turn her own experience with alcohol into a purposeful business so that she could help others do the same.

Here’s how the fist six months in business have panned out, after graduating with a Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching in December 2020.
 
Getting Started and Choosing a Niche
MW: Was there anything else that was difficult or that you were afraid of in the beginning? And how did you overcome that?

SR: I didn't have an understanding how to launch a coaching business. How was I going to work out what to charge? How was I going to build a program? How was I going to structure it? Because it's all very well having the qualification. But then what do you do after that? 

What Passion to Profit did really well was just gently guiding me step-by-step through what's needed, finishing with everything you need to know from a systems perspective; also just really practical things like sending out coaching agreements and all of the legalities, plus who is the niche, where are you going to market to your niche, and how are you going to build your program? I was really scared of all that just because I didn't know it but by the end of the program I felt really confident. 

MW: What helped you get ready to build your business and launch? 

SR: It was choosing a niche, and part of that was knowing that it's natural to be scared to niche down but that that's the only way to get success.  

I'm forever grateful for what the course has taught me in terms of just being able to back myself and know that what I was doing was the right thing to do. Because when you've got the qualification, there are so many avenues that you can go down and as a new coach you don't feel like you want to say “no” to anyone. 

I felt like I wanted to set up a business that could cater for every single person that came across to me so that I was never turning anyone down, but of course when you go through Passion to Profit you realize - how are you going to market to anybody if you look like you're covering every single thing?

What you helped me to do was really get to know who the ideal client was. I wanted to work with what their challenges were, what they were looking for and how I could help them.

Working with a niche just brings me so much more joy, because I feel like I'm an expert in my area. What I realize now is that without a clear niche, I could never have been an expert in terms of really understanding my area and be able to offer a great service in that area.

MW: That's a good point. So, by being general you don't get the chance to become a specialist and it affects your confidence in being able to being able to put yourself out there and see how you can tangibly help people. 

SR: Yeah, I found when I've been dealing with the same issues within my niche, I've learned so much from that and that's what made me a better coach in a very short space of time. I have been able to take that forward with the next clients that I work with. 

Creating Energy and Momentum in The First Three Months
MW: Okay, and so when you did finish and you graduated you got your Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching including Passion to Profit, was there any challenge that you had then or was it easy for you to go out and get into the market?

SR: I knew exactly what I was doing by that point. I was really clear, and I just ran a challenge, and I sold my program off the back of the challenge and filled all my spots.

MW: You make it sound so easy. “I just did a challenge and launched a program off the back sold all of my spots!” 
Let’s backtrack a little. Walk us through it.

You started by creating a free Facebook group in around October 2020, and quickly grew it with a sobriety challenge in January 2021, where you went all out and showed up daily to support your audience. 
What was the experience like?

SR: It was exciting, a little bit overwhelming and I felt a little bit lost at first. But I know the direction to go now because there are so many opportunities coming up, and I feel very proud and very excited with how well it's going in such a short space of time. 

I guess it's useful here to explain that I'm working in is women who want to stop drinking and discover more about themselves and find more fulfillment and purpose and passion in their lives, and I realized that I was starting the challenge at a good time of year because it was January. 

Everyone had just had a very boozy Christmas, feeling a bit rubbish, the start of the new year setting intentions, so I ran a challenge, and I knew that I was going to do this. 

At first, I thought I was going to do a five-day challenge, but then I thought, “well most people do dry January. I'm going to run a 21-day challenge in January to support people who want to take a break from alcohol.” 

I was overwhelmed with the number of women that joined that challenge, which boosted my confidence in knowing that I had so much to offer.

Every day I did a live video. Now, I would not recommend this because this is 21 days at 5pm Perth time every day. 

The intention was every day for five minutes most days. But it ended up being about 40 minutes each day! 

Even so, that made me realize how much I had to say on the matter and how much people were really enjoying and learning about the support and the tips and in the market, not many people were out there talking about these things. 

MW: How did you map out your strategy to really launch and grow so quickly? 

SR: I developed a clear strategy of how to sell my product to the audience, which evolved while I ran my pilot program as part of Passion to Profit.

I think you know from my last session in P2P that my program was not how I thought it was going to be. It was definitely a journey of me learning who I wanted to work with and really getting to identify what their pain point was and what their issue was, that I would be able to support them with. 

So my strategy was to build the group, run a free challenge that was important to a lot of people at the time, and then I built a waitlist during that time for my program. 

That is, I started talking about my program while I was doing the challenge. I said, “I have an exciting program coming soon and it would be a natural step on from taking the alcohol free challenge.” 

People joined the waitlist and I sold all my waitlist spots in two days - amazing! - and then I opened it up to people that were not on the waitlist. Then I think was about a week before closing that I sold all of the spots that I wanted to sell.

(Note: Sarah’s first offer was three groups programs with six spots in each (18 clients), plus four individual programs.)

MW: I'm hearing that you started with a free thing that people could join - your challenge - and you were very present and engaged. 

SR: I had a lot to say every day not just doing a static post using a posting service. When you run a Facebook group, you are actually in the group interacting with them and spending a lot of time. That’s important to know.

MW: It sounds like it was worth the investment because then you also had this the enticement of a call to action, which was your waitlist for something coming soon, which created some intrigue and that got them interested and excited about being part of that next thing to continue past the 21 days. 

SR: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, and that just seemed to just work really well.

Lessons Learned
MW: Sarah, did anything come up in the challenge that you think would be generally relevant for other niches? Like what were some of the issues that might have been raised in the group?

SR: Well, the one thing I learned is that I gave far too much away for free, and I gave far too much. I think there's a fine line between how much information you're prepared to share and it's not even about it being free, but it's about you know, as I said 40 minutes a day for 21 days. That's an awful lot of information that I was giving away. And if I was doing it again, perhaps I wouldn't do it quite that way because not only is it exhausting but there's too much information. I could have kept some back a little bit. 

But overall, the most amazing thing is that we're seeing the connections that the people in the challenge had with each other and were creating that real sense of community. 

So many of them have continued to stay off alcohol since then and most of them tell me that that group on Facebook is their favourite group ever and that they absolutely love it because they're all forming connections with each other. It's not just about me and so I'm creating an actual community which is great. 

MW: Yes! I mean you have lived experience and are very credible you're showing up and creating those connections. The timing of you is perfect. And also, at the bigger picture level there is a bit of a movement toward being sober curious, right? It's the start of a new thing. And so, there's you've got lots of ways of getting traction. Plus. It seems you're very good at networking too and you have extended networks around the place.

SR: Yeah, so I had the foresight before I even ran the challenge. I knew that I would use the Facebook Community to create a group because I knew that in this sobriety world that that really works well, and it gives people a lot of support so I had to set that up about four months before. I didn't realize how useful that was going to end up being because not only to the ladies in the group but to me as well because and they knew me already, but even to get them to do the challenge they had come across to me and they knew me, and I dumped some live videos and I shared my story. 

SR: So I think and because I decided that was going to be my way of marketing. I've done that ahead of time which definitely accelerated how quickly I was able to get success one side qualified and was ready to launch. 

Becoming Visible, Engaging and Attractive
MW: I was going to ask you about three or four things that you did to become very visible and engaging and attractive? 

SR: One of them would be starting that group earlier on and getting it all set up and starting to build those slow burn connections over time as we discussed in Passion to Profit - when you're creating a Facebook group or don't sell for the first six months just build the community and just build and get them to know you and each other, and that's what I did 
I've been very blessed that I've had the group has grown very quickly. There's 1700 women in it now (note: at publication date this is over 3000) all around the world. 

I have had no issues. There has not been a single problem. You know, women can sometimes pull other women down and I had just haven't had that at all. They have been the most supportive and amazing group of women. 

I do still monitor it and I do still have to get approval from me before posts will go live in the group. I don't feel quite ready to let it go free for all yet. But it 's definitely been a massive help for me having that group. 

MW: What are some other things that you've done to become visible?

SR: I sent an email to every radio station in Perth and told them what I was doing and so far. I've been on ABC Perth, I've been on 6PR, I'm going to be on 98.5 tomorrow and I also looked for all the health and sobriety podcasts out there and I just sent an email to all of them with my story and what I'm doing and starting to get some bookings.

It was literally just literally just writing emails to all the places that I could think of that might be interested to talk to me, right? 

MW: So obviously one of your marketing strategies is public speaking and that's whether it be in a Facebook group or on a guest podcast or a radio or a webinar. That's your jam. It's playing to your strengths and you enjoy that.

SR: Exactly yeah. 

MW: What about writing Sarah, is that something you enjoy?

SR: Absolutely, and I would love - my dream one day - is to write a book, but it's just finding the time. I've started a weekly Newsletter now for the ladies - some are in my group and some are not so the other people that have found out about it being through Instagram. So I have a page on there and then eventually I might start writing a Blog because I have lots of ideas but finding the time.

MW: And I guess you get to become known initially by getting on the radio and guest podcasting and being visible on Facebook – these things have been a foundation for you and Instagram as well. And then it may be that in future, you'll be doing less of that publicity stuff as you get better known and settle into some writing and blogging.

SR: Exactly exactly. 

Managing Time and Energy
MW: How are you managing your time and your energy and your clients with this big explosion in popularity?

SR: I am using a planner and I plan the night before I tried. This trick was just planning what I'm doing the next day because it's very easy to get distracted. If you even so much as look at Facebook, that's a half an hour gone so I'm very strict with when I let myself do that now so that I can get focused on what I need to do. I'm very strict with turning my phone off at night and being with the family.

I had to set boundaries because my kids are still young and they see me on my phone all the time because I'm always on Facebook and Instagram doing posts and responding and I've had to realize that I can't be like that in front of them. 

I've got a learning curve and I've got to create my bond with my daughter who said to me the other day, “mum why are you on your phone all the time?” 

That was a bit of a wake-up call because what I tried to explain to her I am actually working. It's the same mum who used to be in the office doing her work. My husband and I had a chat about it so now I do phone stuff in the office so that the kids don't get confused. It's just finding my boundaries and what works for our family and still keeping the momentum going to the business.

MW: Credit to you that you've got that awareness right at the beginning. 

SR: It's the context so taking your phone into the office and treating it formally like work really does make it work and probably makes it easier for you to not waste time on Facebook and not go down the rabbit hole. 

MW: Exactly. So you're a coach who's leading by example setting boundaries managing your environment.

SR: Yeah, being aware of the family. And I'm trying to just recognize when I'm getting full up and what I'm getting overwhelmed and when I need to take a break because that's everything. I talked to my ladies about that, and I've got to make sure that I'm doing that as well. 

It is recognizing when I need to go for a walk, when I need to go and take 10 minutes to read a book or have a bath or whatever it is. I'm making sure that I live by that example. 

MW: Fantastic Sarah. Have you got any last words of advice (which is very non coaching)? But any recommendations are opinions or even just advice for people who are scared of starting their coaching business and want to create the success that you've created so far.

SR: For me, it was a couple of things. It was developing my niche and knowing getting really clear on who that person was. So really, you know, we talked about the Avatar of who was that person and it was me five years ago and so in some ways it was easy for me because I spoke to me so loudly I was so grateful to you for encouraging me to run the pilot group. 

That was amazing, absolute gold because everything I've done with this program is based on doing the pilot group as part of, and in doing, Passion to Profit. 

I wouldn't have been able to go into selling this program confidently if I hadn't done that before so I would say to anybody out there if you're thinking about doing a good coaching pilot group is absolutely brilliant. 

Also, you have to go with what feels right to you because it does become all-consuming and it's exciting and so you have to be really passionate about where you want to help people.

For me, that's why I knew there were a couple of ideas that I was having but I was thinking “how does that make me feel if I'm working with people in that area all day, every day?” 

It was asking myself those questions around what lights me up and what makes me feel invigorated and where I want to spend my time that really helped me home in on that niche. 

I think that's so important because you are the business and then if you want to be doing this in 10 years time or even if you want to sell it even if you want to run a great business you have to love it. 

MW: I always think of Mick Jagger. After all these years he's still singing the same songs. He has to love those songs otherwise, he couldn't get out of bed and be a superstar every day. Imagine if he'd had enough of singing Satisfaction! 

Feeling Connected and Creating Clients in Business



When you work in an office as part of a team, you get a sense of connection each day as you interact with others and share ideas, jokes or brainstorm work problems.


When you start your own business, things can be a little bit different. 

Some people run their business from within another business such as a wellness clinic or studio, and so they experience that much-needed peer interaction. 

But what happens when you are flying solo, and operating from home?

We need a way to feel connected and supported in business so that we can find the motivation, energy, confidence and enthusiasm to persist.
On top of that, building professional and personal networks is a wonderful way to meet potential clients and referral partners who can send qualified referrals your way.

Let’s look at the various ways that solo business owners can build networks.

Joining a Health Professional Network

Allied Health professionals often have either formal or informal meetings, social events and/or online groups for the purpose of networking, referring and collaborating.
Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

By reaching out to the Allied Health professionals in your area and catching up for a cup of coffee or brief Zoom introduction, you can quickly find out which ones are ‘your kind of person’ and find out where and how these professionals network in your local area.

If you are a member of the Coaching Success Accelerator, you can find a downloadable, step-by-step process for reaching out to Allied Health Professionals. 

  • Action step: make a list of 10 practitioners in your local area, relevant to your niche or specialty area of coaching, and phone or email to book a time to chat.

Joining a Local Business Network

Your local Chamber of Commerce is an active business hub where you can meet and rub shoulders with decision makers in your community.

Their meetings are typically monthly.
Depending on where you live, your local Chamber may be quite active or not so much. 

In any case, it’s worth exploring the network to see who is involved, and to ask to attend a first meeting as a guest to see if it could be mutually beneficial.

Often, Chambers of Commerce have an active role in community projects, Council grants or industry-level initiatives that may be relevant to you (e.g. health related). 

  • Action step: Google search your local Chamber to enquire about meeting dates, opportunities to attend and what is typically discussed.

Joining a Professional Industry Association

Every reputable profession has an industry association that acts as a voice for its members.
Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

Being a member of a professional association can provide opportunities to vote on important issues, but also, it lets your clients know that you work in a serious, credible profession that has a formal self-regulation process and quality standards.

Being featured on the home page of an industry association is another way for people to find you online, positioned in a professional environment.

In Australia and New Zealand, the premiere industry body is Health Coaches of Australia and New Zealand Association.

  • Action step: Contact HCANZA to enquire about membership.

Joining a Social Networking Group 

LinkedIn is a globally-recognised platform for networking with other businesses and potential clients.

It has an advantage of being “more professional” than other social media channels, so may lend credibility and good business positioning.

You may make valuable connections for referral, collaboration or potential clients here.

There are industry-specific groups where you can network with peers in specific areas of health and wellbeing.

This is a great place to go if your niche group is a professional, entrepreneur and/or manager.

Facebook also offers support in the form of industry-specific groups, like the Students of Wellness Coaching Australia group.

Start Your Own Group 

An easy way to build professional alliances is to start your own group. 
This is a good tactic for you if you are outgoing, love people and enjoy networking (otherwise it may feel like too much work – and you’re better off joining someone else’s network/group).

In a professional sense, this could be a mastermind, a specific collaboration project, or simply a peer support group.

Or even better – you can start your own Facebook or LinkedIn group to attract potential clients.  This is a bigger job than the others, but if you are ready to build a tribe of like minded people and have the energy to show up every day, this is a good option.

There are a variety of training courses that can help you do it right.

  • Action step: Consider whether you’re ready to start your own group and find a training course to help you do it right. Or, if you are not ready, join a big group where your clients might be, and observe how it’s done.

Summary

It’s easy to feel isolated when you transition from a workplace to your own solo business.

However, I’ve listed FIVE options that you could start exploring to build professional and client networks for the purpose of feeling supported, brainstorming ideas and creating clients.
To get started, choose the one that feels like the best fit and make plans to join and explore what it’s like to be a member.

If that works well, schedule in the number of meetings or days you would like to attend (keep it small and simple!) and start getting into the hang of participating, contributing and collaborating.

When that’s working well, you may like to explore another option.

Now, it’s over to you.

What is your easiest and most obvious starting point?

Four Ways of Living Through this Quieter Time




I have purposely not referred to the term that is appearing in every publication, as information on the virus that is changing the world is abundant and to be honest, I think we all can feel a bit bombarded at times - reading about what is happening and what we should be doing.  Instead, in this short article I will focus on four areas that seem to be relevant for most people.  I realise that we are all having very different experiences of what I like to think of as a “quieter time”.  There is so much sadness and loss occurring which will take us time to recover from and emerge into the new normal - whatever that looks like.  As coaches, we like to look at the positive and reframe where we can, but it is not always possible and grief is inevitable and necessary.  However, let’s consider some of the phenomena, (skill sets, qualities) that have come to the forefront during this unusual period of history!

The need to adapt –adaptability has been a buzz word in the popular field of resilience for some time and never has the need to adapt to change been more essential. We have heard some wonderful stories of how people have reinvented their businesses into new and profitable concepts that have filled a need that has suddenly been created due to our new restrictions. 
The creativity that is involved here is inspiring and generative.  The demise of one thing has led to the birth of something new. In a similar vein, I wonder how many of us have thought of “re-inventing” some part of our own lives – be it personal or professional? The advantages of being adaptable are many, not least of which is the growth of new neural pathways as we are forced to do something in a different way!  Out of change comes courage.

Compassion – the world seems to be overflowing with it.  What an unexpected outcome!  Sadness breeds empathy and a desire to reach out and connect. There are many stories of how the public are honouring the healthcare workers, how people are supporting their elderly neighbours, how we are watching countries around the world handle their unique situation and our hearts are full of love for those people. It has been said that this disease knows no boundaries and our common humanity is bringing us together – in a way that religion (and politics) have never been able to do. The other side of compassion is self- compassion. And it is something that is also very important as we struggle to take on a new set of values, be they temporary. There is now no need to measure up to the next person. We recognise that it is the luck of the draw whether we have jobs, businesses or are left with a big gap in our previously busy and purposeful lives. It makes it easier to be kind to ourselves (and others) when we know that feeling guilty is inappropriate.  Our only choice is what to do with the new situation. But starting with self love and self care are great places to begin. Our conversations with clients are going to be inevitably drawn into discussions about how we can look after ourselves with love and kindness.

Slowing down – how interesting that many of us have a sense of the world turning more slowly on its axis. Even if our routine is the same and the pressures of work and study remain, there is an innate need to take each day easier, to calm the busyness, to stop and linger.  What’s with the butterflies? The butterfly is a symbol of hope and regeneration and there is something awe-inspiring to watch them fly past in their hundreds. Were they always there? Or have we just got time to appreciate what’s going on in nature.  

We are now spending more time with friends and family (even if over zoom) than ever before!!  We’re getting to know the minor details of each others’ lives, sharing the challenges and the small wins and connecting more than ever with both empathy and humour!  Yes, when did we ever have time to watch those videos that are sent our way? Now we are amazed at the cleverness of everyday folk who can put together something that is entertaining without taking anything away from the seriousness of the situation. How many times did you cry this week when you watched a tribute to Captain Tom or heard an artist share their talents by sending a message of love and hope through their song or film making skills?

Reflection – finally, there seems to be time to reflect. Being introspective and getting to the heart of how we are feeling, looking back to the way we have been living and daring to hope that things could be different is a daily occurrence for many. Establishing what is important to us - really? And wondering (metaphorically) whether those “butterflies” will still feature in our lives when this is all over. How can we hold on to the lessons learnt, continue to live with the quietness if only in our minds?

This is a very personal account of my experience in the last five weeks. There is also disappointment, sadness and worry ever present but it comes and goes. Our conversations with clients cannot help but change and go into a much deeper exploration of what they are feeling. What they are learning from this experience?  How they are growing, what they need to come through it intact. We can’t work with clients without, at times, sharing our experiences. This is the time to work together, to share our thoughts and feelings and to help each other stay well.  

What does Group Health and Wellness Coaching have to offer?


The growing amount of research on health and wellness coaching, delivered in a person to person setting suggests that coaching can be an effective intervention for many lifestyle related diseases. (Sforzo et al, 2017, 2019). But can health and wellness coaching delivered in a group offer a valuable contribution to the field and if so, what are its strengths and what are the challenges facilitators might face?

The literature on this method of delivery is much less advanced although several papers articulate a similarly positive effect and, in some ways, a format that can potentially benefit the participants in quite unique ways to the one on one conversation most commonly held.

In 2013, Armstrong et al reported on seven programs that used a group coaching approach throughout the United States – either by telephone or in person and using both professional and peer coaches. Results showed a wide range of positive outcomes including a sense of satisfaction and increased self-efficacy, some change in lifestyle behaviours, reduced pain and in one program, gains in facilitator’s listening and goal-setting skills.

In 2019, Yocum and Lawson reported on a workplace group health coaching initiative that involved 8 employees in leadership roles over a five-session program. Outcomes showed “positive change and growth” with reductions in stress, increased self-awareness of self-identity, values and desired goals. Again, facilitators reported similar personal gains.  

A case study followed an integrative group health coaching experience with four participants over four sessions and found that even in this short time period, group members experienced an improved sense of well-being.  (Schultz and Lawson, 2020.)

The above suggests that group health coaching can provide an alternative, lower cost option for client engagement with potentially additional benefits. Out of the reports cited the following strengths were noted for group interventions:

  • Participants experienced a sense of community and great sense of responsibility to follow through on commitments
  • Less isolation
  • Learning from others’ experiences
  • Enhanced creativity  and courage to try something new
  • Authentic communication and support
  • The opportunity to provide streamlined education or information which may be harder to deliver in a one on one setting
  • The use of tools such as mindfulness and other stress reduction strategies delivered in a group setting
  • Personal growth and understanding of facilitators
  • Sense of cohesion
Of course, strengths are also tempered by challenges and some of these included:

  • Logistics of bringing people together and managing their availability
  • Whether the group should be a closed group or open for people to “drop in” (which would work against any cohesion they might have experienced meeting with the same people each session).
  • The need for group guidelines, ideally created by the group members
  • Recognition that group work is not for everyone – some may not feel comfortable sharing and others may be disruptive. The facilitator has to be skilled in managing group dynamics.
What was of interest was that all members joined the program with the aim of improving “well-being” which can sometimes seem an elusive or vague outcome for many.
One program broke down the dimensions into health relationships, security, purpose, community and environment (Schultz and Lawson, 2020.)

In the work-based group, participants developed themes which were improving life/work balance, developing stress management strategies, increasing self-care, focus on healthy living, desire for accountability and lasting change and learning tools to pass on to other staff.

Information on the even group programs showed that the health issues that were targeted included general health and well-being, survivors of stroke, chronic pain, stress, and other chronic medical conditions. (Armstrong et al, 2019.)

Although there is a great need for further research into many various aspects of group coaching programs, these articles suggest that it is definitely a promising way of using the principles of coaching to support positive change.


Armstrong, C., Wolever, R. Q., Manning, L., Elam, R., Moore, M., Frates, E. P., Duskey, H., Anderson, C., Curtis, R. L., Masemer, S., & Lawson, K. (2013). Group Health Coaching: Strengths, Challenges, and Next Steps. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(3), 95-102. https://doi.org/10.7453/gahmj.2013.019

Schultz, C. S., Stuckey, C. M., & Lawson, K. (2019). Group health coaching for the underserved: a case report. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 13(1), 3-7. https://doi.org/10.1080/17521882.2019.1656658

Sforzo, G. A., Kaye, M. P., Todorova, I., Harenberg, S., Costello, K., Cobus-Kuo, L., Faber, A., Frates, E., & Moore, M. (2017). Compendium of the Health and Wellness Coaching Literature. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(6), 436-447. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827617708562

Sforzo, G. A., Kaye, M. P., Harenberg, S., Costello, K., Cobus-Kuo, L., Rauff, E., Edman, J. S., Frates, E., & Moore, M. (2019). Compendium of Health and Wellness Coaching: 2019 Addendum. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 155982761985048. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827619850489

Yocum, S., & Lawson, K. (2019). Health Coaching Case Report: Optimizing Employee Health and Wellbeing in Organizations. Journal of Values-Based Leadership. https://doi.org/10.22543/0733.122.1266


How to Build a Referral Network with Allied Health Practitioners




Working in an industry where quality and credibility are essential, Health and Wellness Coaches can gain a huge advantage when starting their businesses by networking with allied health practitioners. 

It takes time to build rapport and relationship in allied health, but these specific relationships will help you to build the most meaningful connections.
And if you start building your networks when you start your business, you will more easily build qualified referrals and fill your sales pipeline.

In my local coaching business, I networked extensively with GP’s and involved them in the development of my program approach, and within 2 years was being listed on GP care plans and referred clients on a regular basis.

Let’s take a step back and explore what all this means and involves, so you can start building your own relationships with allied health practitioners.

It Starts with Trust

Even when someone is ready, willing and able to get help with their health and wellbeing, they will generally only buy from someone they know, like and trust.
As a new business owner, you may not yet have that trust and connection, and that’s why a referral network is so important.

Further, consider how much more weight an Allied Health Practitioner’s referral has, compared with a referral from a friend or family member. 
People see medical and health professionals as trustworthy and reliable, and that sentiment transfers to you as a referral partner.

It therefore makes sense to start building Allied Health relationships early on in your business, so you can position your business as credible, professional and reputable.

Referrals Build Referrals

An easy way to get referrals from Allied Health practitioners is to meet and network with them and refer people you know to them. Even if you don’t have any clients, you can become their client, or refer people you know to certain practitioners.

Do this and they will get to know you and will more likely want to reciprocate.

Which local practitioners could you use the service of and refer people to?

Networks Build Collective Knowledge

When you maintain your professional networks and relationships, you enjoy an added benefit of keeping your finger on the pulse with developments in your area, and in the health industry more generally.

For example, I recall a Medicare Local meeting that I attended in my Shire. 

I had the chance to network with Allied Health professionals I knew, meet new practitioners in the area, learn about some of the common problems our sector was facing generally in terms of funding, information sharing gaps and key client issues (some of which I could help with) and, I was able to make a couple of useful contributions to this meeting.

I learned very quickly that these sorts of events were worth attending and helped me to support other practitioners while also building trust in my network and identifying new business opportunities.

In addition, as Allied Health practitioners came to know me better, they understood how I helped people, and could send clients to me that were the right kind of client for my niche with the exact problem I helped to solve.

As they say in marketing, I was getting pre-qualified client referrals who were suited to my program and to my way of working. 

The impact of this was to increase my sales conversion rate such that around 90 - 95% of all enquiries would buy from me.

How to Start Building Your Allied Health Network

Here are five steps to getting started with your Allied Health Network.
1. Get professional business cards printed with contact details and website/social media links (ideally LinkedIn)
2. Develop your professional identity along with a clear, simple elevator pitch-style overview of who you help, what you do, and how you deliver that (see the Coaching Success Accelerator, Unit 1, for a step-by-step process)
3. Visit www.healthdirect.gov.au/Australian-health-services to identify health services in your local area and make a list of those relevant to your services and niche.
4. Decide on how you will approach Allied Health professionals to make contact – for example, would you 
a. send a letter, 
b. phone to request an in person meeting, 
c. book an appointment as a client
d. attend an Allied Health event, or
e. Approach a chronic disease organisation?
5. Start scheduling appointments and reaching out to those professionals to introduce yourself and discuss a referral process that suits you both.  They may have something in place that they use, or you could develop something together.

Summary

Referrals are a great way to start and build your business. 

The credibility and respect attached to Allied Health referrals may be as good or greater than referrals from the general public and, they are likely to be qualified leads.

That means you can convert a higher percentage of enquiries to sales.

Further, you get to keep your finger on the local and industry pulse and help other practitioners, plus identify business opportunities.
What are you waiting for?

It’s time to follow a simple, five-step process to building your referral network so you can general a steady stream of enquiries to fill your programs and sales pipeline.

Working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme framework


Are you a certified Health and Wellness Coach who:

  • Has experience with, OR wants to work with, disabled people?
  • Is willing to network with local allied health professionals?
  • Is happy to work for a set hourly rate?
  • Is fairly good at working in a structured and organised way?
If so, there's a good chance that you can be paid to work as a coach within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) framework.
This blog explains how it works, what the fee pre-requisites are, and how to apply.

Overview of NDIS process

Very simply, the NDIS supports people by way of funding if they have a permanent and significant disability that affects their ability to take part in everyday activities.

They may access NDIS funding if they:
  • have a permanent disability that limits participation in everyday activities 
  • are aged less than 65 when they first access the scheme 
  • Are an Australian citizen, live in Australia and hold a permanent visa or hold a Protected Special Category Visa.
Once an application for funding has been lodged, the NDIS: 
  • considers their existing support and how well it’s working (could include family, friend support);
  • looks at the person’s needs and goals, then identifies any gaps in existing services; 
  • works out if existing support networks (family, friends, other) can fill those gaps; and
  • fund reasonable and necessary supports to help the disabled person achieve their goals.
These ‘supports’ (services) being funded by the NDIS can be broad or specific and may include therapies, equipment, home modifications, mobility equipment, taking part in community activities or assistance with employment. 
Once appropriate services are identified, a tailored plan is created for the individual, considering their needs and goals.

Creating a Plan for Funding

Here is an overview of how it works.

The tailored plan is developed by either:
  • the NDIS governing body (either Uniting, St Vincent De Paul) or 
  • a contracted NDIS planner (an individual contractor or an Agency like the Disability Trust). 

  • The services and service providers are approved and allocated by the planner. 
  • Once funding is allocated, the service providers are formally approached by either the disabled individual or their planning coordinator/consultant; 
  • The plan (delivery of services) is implemented by the person, their family and sometimes a support coordinator, and is reviewed and revised annually.

The overarching aim of these plans is that the disabled individual becomes more capable and competent over time and their needs for services change and/or diminish.
Service providers can be registered with NDIS, or not (more on that later).

NDIS Service Categories

Professional services that are covered by the NDIS fall into one of three broad areas:
  • CORE SUPPORTS – which enable the individual to complete activities of daily living and work towards their goals and objectives. 
  • CAPITAL SUPPORTS – an investment such as technology, equipment and home or vehicle modifications, capital costs (e.g. Specialist Disability Accommodation). 
  • CAPACITY BUILDING – includes support that enables a participant to build their independence and skills. 
Health and Wellness Coaches may be eligible to provide services under the specific categories within the Core and Capacity Building areas:
  • Core Supports: 1.04 Assistance with Social and Community Participation
This could include paying for after school care, vacation care or a training course or camp.
  • Capacity Building: 3.07. Coordination of support
This is more of an administrative role, where the service provider helps to coordinate the booking of and interaction with various service providers outlined in the individual’s plan.  
  • Capacity Building: 3.09 Increased Social and Community Participation
This item covers tuition fees, art classes, sports coaching, camps or groups that build a person’s relationship and other skills and independence.
  • Capacity Building: 3.11 Improved relationships 
This item is more for experienced degree-qualified professionals (e.g. psychologists) who work to reduce or eliminate behaviours of concern. There may be an opportunity for Health and Wellness Coaches to help build individual social skills. 
  • Capacity Building: 3.12 Improved health and wellbeing
This includes all activities to support and maintain wellbeing such as personal training, exercise physiology, exercise, health diets and dietetic. Service providers in this category are typically qualified as a personal trainer, exercise physiologist or dietician. 
  • Capacity Building: 3.14 Improved life choices
There are several areas within this category that may be relevant for Health and Wellness Coaches, within Planning and Plan Management (that is, their own NDIS plan), or Therapy Services.
There are many ‘line items’ within each category and the full list is available on the NDIS website.

As you can see, there is no necessity to have a Health-related qualification for some of these items. For example, if you're not a personal trainer or a nutritionist, you can still work with NDIS clients in areas such as community participation, relationships, planning or plan management support and coordinating support.
 

Fund Management and Service Providers

The NDIS funding for a disabled person is managed in one of three ways. It is either:
  • NDIS managed – the NDIS pays service providers, and they must be approved, NDIS-registered providers
  • Agency managed – An NDIS agency like Workability or the Disability Trust pays service providers, and funding is available to either registered NDIS OR unregistered providers
  • Self-managed – the individual, their carer or their family pays service providers, and funding is available to either registered NDIS OR unregistered providers.
In any of these situations, the person who manages and distributes NDIS funding for a disabled person takes responsibility for the individuals choice of provider, according to which services have been approved in the plan. 

The criteria for choosing a service and service provider are that they must be:
  • Safe
  • Allowed within the NDIS framework
  • A competent person and provider
  • They can't be a member of the individual’s family
They may only want to use NDIS-registered providers, or may only want to use providers with specific qualifications or experience.

Pay rates

The pay rate you receive as a NDIS service provider (registered or unregistered) depends on: 
  • whether the client has low, standard or high intensity needs
  • the service category chosen, and 
  • your qualifications.
Pay rates start at $42.79 per hour, and may range up to $92.53 per hour for different services categories and/or working on weekends or public holidays.
Degree-qualified coaches (e.g. exercise physiologists) may earn up to $143 per hour depending on the service.

How Providers Get Work

While you don’t have to register as a provider, it certainly gives you a better chance of being chosen to provide services, because you: 
  • can advertise yourself as a registered provider
  • are eligible for all levels of funding management (from NDIS-managed to personally managed plans).
  • will be listed on the NDIS website as a registered provider. 
Whether approved or not, service providers may be approached by disabled individuals, the NDIS, or a support coordinator or agency to provide services. 

But at the end of the day, the more people in the industry that you know, the more likely you will be chosen to support someone. 

That means your best chance is to get out there and network! 

Find out who your local disability service providers and agencies are, meet them and introduce yourself. Let them know what you can do and how you could provide support in a positive and empowering way.

Considerations

As you can tell, the NDIS is fairly complicated and there is an application process to go through.
There is another consideration, too.

Mental health issues are often a comorbidity with disability. 
It means you may be dealing with individuals in complex situations and with complex needs. You may need to coordinate with other providers and be available at odd hours. 
You would probably need to be fairly clear on the boundaries of your role, and to communicate those boundaries clearly from the beginning.

Application Process

Are you interested in becoming a registered provider?
Click here to learn more and start the application process!

What is True Belonging?


Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Brené Brown starts her latest book, Braving the Wilderness with this profound statement.

It is a statement that resounds with many health and wellness coaches, as experience has shown that most people are drawn to this profession, with a strong desire to connect with and to help others – to be part of something bigger than ourselves. 

Yet there are steps to be taken before this can happen and Brené clearly articulates this by following up in her opening chapter with the statement, Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self acceptance. 

This idea has always intrigued me. Many years spent training people to coach others to improved wellness has reinforced my belief that there is a journey that we need to go on - before we can effectively support others. Or to rephrase this, there is a journey that we need to be on, before we can help others on their own individual journey.

This book really brought home to me that an understanding of human nature is essential to our profession if we are to humbly offer our services and respect the many stories we will hear. Although this book is a wonderful one to read for anyone who seeks to grow and learn how to be authentically themselves, I feel it has particular significance to the profession of health and wellness coaching. I will try and succinctly explain why, below, without spoiling what will be an excellent read for all.

To belong we need to stand alone at times in our decisions and beliefs. This can often be painful and requires us to "be vulnerable, get uncomfortable and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are".

Trust is at the heart of belonging – trusting others but also trusting ourselves. Brené quotes Feltman in her explanation of trust ;choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions”. Self trust allows you to share your most authentic self with the world. This is what we want our clients to do. 

We are all inextricably connected, yet radical thinking and fear of differing opinions have caused conflict and unrest in today’s world where sometimes, belonging has become confused with “siding” with one group or another. 

The most powerful part of this book is the chapter where Brené describe occasions where people have come together to share collective joy or pain and by doing so get reminded of what is true about the human spirit. “We are wired for real connection.” (This chapter is very moving.). She reminds us that we seek out social connection and the positive effects of it last longer than the actual event. In a world where everything can be done online we run the real risk of missing out on these opportunities to connect face to face with others. We know that coaching delivered by automated prompts can have a positive outcome but what is it missing that can’t be measured? 

Social interaction is essential for our health. In-person interactions bolster our immune system, send positive hormones through our system. Something as simple as a high-five releases dopamine and lowers cortisol level. (Or a hug if you’re not the high-five type.) 

One final section that I loved is when she wrote of asking 8th graders the difference between belonging and fitting in. Here are their responses:

  •  “Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be .. and they want. You. Fitting in is being somewhere you want to be, but they don’t care one way of the other. 
  • Belong is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else. 
  • If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.” 

Such wisdom from young people. We use this knowledge to live our own lives authentically but how valuable to share this kind of information with our clients! 

Which brings me to that long held realisation that we don’t just coach to change behaviours (although that is a big part of our work), we coach to connect and to help others connect with themselves, with their wider community and ultimately live a longer, healthier life. 

Enjoy the read! 

References: 
Brown, Brené. (2017) Braving the Wilderness. Penquin, London.’ Feltman, C. (2009) The Thin Book of Trust: An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work, Bend.

Power of Meaning, Pillar of Belonging Part 4: Transcendence


The fourth pillar of meaning that Emily Smith refers to is that of “transcendence” which comes from the word “transcend”, or “go beyond”.  ‘Go beyond what?”, we might ask.  The sense of going beyond our everyday world to a higher reality is what transcendence is all about.  
But how can that give a deeper sense of meaning to our seemingly trivial lives?

You would expect the opposite. Yet it works the other way.

Imagine looking at a sunset, imagine meditating for hours at a time, imagine looking down on earth from a spaceship. What those experiences all have in common is that we are faced with something bigger than ourselves that creates a sense of insignificance and this feeling can transform us!

How does this happen?

In two ways.  First, our sense of self tends to disappear and along with it all the petty worries and wishes. Secondly, we get a feeling of being deeply connected with other people and everything else in our world. This experience can help us get a greater sense of meaning and promote a state of peace and wellbeing.

This should come as no surprise to health and wellness coaches who instinctively now that time spent in nature is somehow more valuable than perhaps time spent working out in a crowded gym. Mindfulness meditation come directly from this understanding and works in the same way.

But back to nature. If you needed any evidence of the benefits of nature, consider this.  A study had students outdoors in two groups. One group spent one minute staring at the huge trees that were part of the environment, and the other spent one minute staring at a tall building nearby. They had no idea what the study was about. After this time, a researcher approached them with a questionnaire and “accidentally” dropped a box of pens. The group who had stared at the trees showed much greater willingness to help pick up the pens, than the group who stared at the building. The conclusion? Nature created a reduced feeling of self-importance and made that group more generous towards others.  


How do we use this in our work?  Keep encouraging our clients to experience and savour the wonders of the world!

REFERENCE

Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning


Power of Meaning, Pillar of Belonging Part 3: Helping Clients tell their Stories





















Still on the topic of “meaning”, the next important privilege that coaches have is to help a client tell their story - as it relates to their sense of emotional, physical and perhaps spiritual wellness, and this is often affected by what has gone before.  

At some point, we will all endure hardship and tough times. Some more than others. The story that we create around what has happened will greatly influence how we make sense of the world, and ultimately, how we create our lives. Often the toughest events can alter a person in some significant way and put them on a different and perhaps better path. So it’s not what happens to us but how we interpret what happens to us that counts, and we have the power to change this.

People who have endured loss or trauma may choose to avoid thinking about that loss, but to grow we need to come to terms with the way our life has turned out. The wonderful thing about “story-telling” is that even fiction can help us cope with our experiences. By reading we can gain wisdom and inspiration and learn from others’ experiences. By sharing stories, the story-tellers are not just creating meaning for themselves but helping others do so too. In this way, we can reach out and connect with others.

How does this help our coaching practice?
We often hear our clients talk about past events in a certain way, it may be dis-empowering and have a sense of keeping them stuck. By helping them re-frame their story, but looking for a different interpretation, we can help them perhaps create a more helpful meaning around it.

By telling stories of others, or our own (if appropriate), we can connect and inspire our clients. Note that the latter is only done in exceptional circumstances and we have to have a strong sense that this will be helpful to the client!

In summary, there is no such thing as “the truth” as we all remember things in different ways. If we can create a narrative around our life that helps us understand ourselves better, and if that inspires others, then the job of storytelling has been well done. Stories and storytelling shape people’s lives.


REFERENCE

Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning




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