3 Proven Strategies for Creating Healthy Boundaries to Best Serve Your Clients and Create a Thriving Life Coaching Business
Have you ever had a life coaching client who tried to extend a session well beyond your agreed upon time together? Or have you received an excess number of phone calls from a client outside of your scheduled time with them?
These types of experiences are fairly common in any coach-client relationship, and aren’t even necessarily your clients’ fault. And if you’re experiencing either of these things, they don’t indicate that you’re in any way a “bad” life coach, but they do suggest that you might benefit from better communicating healthy boundaries with your clients.
When I first started coaching clients many years ago, I would run into situations where a client would wedge one more issue into the conversation just as we were wrapping up a session. Or I’d have a client call at all hours of the day seeking my guidance.
Because I genuinely wanted to help them, I’d feel obligated to talk longer or when it wasn’t convenient for me. But over time, this depleted my energy and made me a less effective life coach.
These types of situations with my clients occurred because, when I first started out, I hadn’t been trained in how to set effective boundaries.
I’ve now been coaching clients for more than 35 years, and one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned is that creating clear and healthy boundaries prior to working with any client is one of the keys to giving them your best self and to cultivating a thriving life coaching business.
So I’d like to share with you now a few of the best strategies I’ve learned for implementing healthy boundaries in your life coaching business that serve the greater wellbeing of both you and your clients!
HEALTHY BOUNDARY #1: Set a schedule
When you meet with prospective clients, always discuss both the investment and the deliverables. If possible, before a client even signs up for a program with you, also try to create a very specific and vivid picture of what working with you will be like – how frequently you’ll meet, for how long, and what your coaching relationship will be and look like.
This way, clients won’t accidentally have an unrealistic expectation of your work together.
Also, once you’ve officially taken on a client, set a very clear schedule before sessions begin. How long will the coaching relationship span? 12 weeks? Six months? How many sessions are included, and how long is each session? Will sessions be in-person, by phone, by Skype… or a combination of meeting types?
Make a general plan or arc for your sessions as well, with an overall agenda for the way each session will unfold based on a client’s specific needs. For example, in the first session you may work on identifying limiting beliefs and in the second session on identifying areas of longing and discontent.
You don’t have to map out an entire coaching relationship from the outset, but having a general idea of where you’re going in your work together will help you maximize the benefits of your time together.
HEALTHY BOUNDARY #2: Make clear payment and cancellation policies
What will each session cost? Do you offer a package fee? Will you take a down payment and additional payments at the time of sessions? How will you accept payment? Will you accept late payments… and if so, with or without a late fee?
And what about cancellations? In what window of time will a client still be charged for a session if they cancel? Will you give a first cancellation a “pass?”
Provide all of this information to clients ahead of time. Your time and energy is valuable, as is your client’s, so proactively look out for both parties.
Also, be sure to work out all of these financial and logistical policies yourself before you communicate them to your client and consider putting them in writing. This will help provide total clarity for your clients.
It can be uncomfortable to discuss money if the parameters around it are cloudy, but you’ll avoid miscommunications and surprises if you draw these healthy boundaries early on in your work together.
HEALTHY BOUNDARY #3: Give clients an “emergency card”
This is one of my absolute favorite methods for preserving my own time and energy while making my clients feel safe, loved and supported at all times.
You can either give them a real “emergency card” or just say, “Imagine you have a card in your wallet, and this card entitles you to reach out to me at absolutely any time.” Either way, the idea is to give your clients a lifeline of sorts – a free, extra boost of support when they need it, outside the time frame of your sessions.
You can decide how many of these cards a client has access to during the period of time they work with you. For example, one card to be used in a 12-week period, or two cards to be used within a six month time frame.
Now here’s the key…. I tell my clients, “My goal is that you never have to use it and I think that would be your goal, too, but if there is a time when you know that five minutes from me is going to make a significant difference for you, I want you to have that card, and you can call me or text me anytime.”
And you know what? In all these years of coaching, almost no one has used their “emergency card,” but the ability to gives a client a strong sense of security knowing they are fully supported by you.
Healthy boundaries ensure that you support your clients from the highest place serving
The goal in setting healthy boundaries with clients is not to flood them with rules, but to give them the best life coaching experience possible. And better results for clients means a more thriving business for you. It’s truly a win-win!
When you anticipate and communicate boundaries with clients before you begin working with them, they will know from the beginning that your policies reflect a desire to best serve and support them. They’ll know you have their back and that you’re committed to bringing your very best to every session together.
Do you feel the calling to be a life coach and wonder if it’s the right profession for you?
If you feel the longing to make a difference in others’ lives and be abundantly compensated for it, register now for my FREE online workshop on how to turn your passion for helping others into a THRIVING part-time or full-time life coaching business you’ll absolutely love!
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