What is it like to be a coaching client (coachee)?

What is it like to be a client to a coach? How does it feel? What is the experience like?

If you are thinking about getting a coach you are probably wondering “What is it like is to be a client?” It’s hard to get an answer. Clients usually express the experience in broad terms – “it was useful” “it is good idea to get a coach.” “It worked for me.” Coaches are bound to confidentiality so they cannot share their clients’ experience – which is a good thing.

I have been a coaching client many times. When I thought about writing the book – Change or Die – I worked with a coach. During my Evidence Based Coaching training hours I received coaching from my peers. I am in the unique position to share my own experience of what it is like to be a coaching client (coachee), without breaching any client confidentiality arrangements.

Some sessions were difficult as I had to confront a lot of my fears, procrastinations and doubts to be able to move closer to my goal. These sessions would be heavy with silence, and the coaching session seemed to take forever. Other sessions were light, filled with humor and the coach and I were in some secret world where I could do no wrong.

I experienced a range of emotions from session to session. I felt confused. I had options ahead of me – Do I invite someone to coauthor the book with me? What would that relationship look like? What will be the benefits?

I often felt embarrassed – my inner critic would shout – Why are you so dumb? Is that really an issue for a coaching session? Your coach must be bored.

I felt vulnerable. In the coaching sessions I could remove my veneer of bravery and show my true self. I showed where I was hurt and where my true fears laid. The coaching session became the place that I could confront my deepest fear – Suppose I write the book and no one publishes it.

I felt relieved. When I got to a solution and found the answer to my questions I felt a literal weight off my shoulder. When I left the session my burdens stayed in the session.

I felt safe. My coach contracted to be confidential. I could say what I wanted and how I felt. She did not judge me – even when I said the meanest things. I left each session with my dignity intact and put back on my mask to face the world.

I felt happy –I solved my problem and I left the session one step closer to my goal.

As a coach, my memory of what it is like to be a client is never far from my mind. I bring these memories to each and every session with each and every client. I have been that vulnerable, confused, fearful, anxious client who is afraid of taking that risk. I honor the clients’ bravery to ask for help and willfully accept the role of confidential partner. I know how much my coaches helped me and I am awed to be in a position to assist others with the compassion and kindness that I have received.


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