How to Help Clients through a Crisis

by Coaching Out of the Box

Grief and pain can have long lasting impacts on everyone they touch. People may often try to handle their pain internally and wait for time to heal them. Unfortunately, this is less likely to be a solution and clients may come to their coaches for assistance. Not every coach will have a client who is going through a crisis, however, chances are that some degree of crisis, whether professional or personal, will come up in a coaching session at some point. These clients are often scared, hurt and confused. The way to handle these situations differs from client to client, but there are some basics to keep in mind:

  1. Be supportive. Offer positive reinforcement and let them know they aren’t alone.
  2. Be understanding but not judgmental. It doesn’t matter at what stage they are in their grief, the client will be moving through at their own pace.
  3. Be authentic. It isn’t unusual to be at a loss for words, but don’t try to fill the gaps with platitudes.
  4. Don’t avoid. There doesn’t need to be an avoidance of the elephant in the room – get it out in the open and discuss patiently.
  5. Don’t fix it. Just listen to the client and give them the space to air out their concerns and hopefully hear themselves to discover their own solutions.
  6. Offer hope. The client should know there is something beyond the current darkness, but they don’t have to be there just yet.

Grief can be all encompassing and often people are so caught up in their own pain that they are unable to imagine a future past it or a way out of it. Time isn’t necessarily the best solution and despair can set in if the client is unable to share their pain. Since most coaches are not crisis counsellors, it is important to have a referral on hand for clients who may be in situations beyond the coach’s ability. There is no shame in realizing a limitation to the coaching process and recommending a client to seek further assistance with a professional, however, some clients may just need someone to listen to them and this could be an opportunity for their coach to make a difference.

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