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Is a Wellness Coach Right for You? (Part III)

Paula Payne of High Point, NC, has spent much of her life pursuing her passion for helping others live well. She now is dedicated to supporting cancer survivors. Read the beginning of her story and how Paula first discovered her passion for wellness in Is a Wellness Coach Right for You? (Part I) and Is a Wellness Coach Right for You? (Part II).

Learning to listen

One important component of being an effective coach is learning to listen, Paula says.

“The Duke program had an entire section on listening. We think we listen. But a lot of times what’s happening is we listen for about 10 or 15 seconds. Then, in our mind, we’re already making judgments, categorizing or moving ahead.

“They also teach about the power of silence. When a person is speaking, then we may feel as if it’s our turn to speak. Sometimes it’s best to just let silence happen. The foundation of coaching is that the person has the answer for themselves. It’s not about fixing. It’s about enabling the person to discover.”

Find what works for your life

Sometimes when Paula has a new coaching client, they may say, “Can’t you just tell me the answer?”

“We’re so used to people just giving us the information,” she explains. “But we have found out that doesn’t work. How many times do people go to the doctor and the doctor gives them the information and they say, you need to change your diet, you need to exercise, you need to relax. Year after year, it’s the same conversation. Telling people doesn’t work. It’s discovering what they truly are looking for and what works in their life.

Building connection between client and coach

To start engaging with a new coaching client, Paula conducts an introductory session.

“It’s really kind of a getting to know you and getting comfortable with the coaching atmosphere. After that, if the person is interested, I send them an assessment form to fill out.”

The assessment form does more than provide information to Paula. It helps the client better understand themselves.

“It starts the wheels turning. They say, ‘I never thought about this.’ Or ‘I did not realize I spend 80 percent of my time on work or thinking about work and I only have 20 percent of my time for family and relaxation.’ Right away, they may see why they are not feeling balanced. It’s a great tool.”

How coaching can help lung cancer survivors

Coaching is not for everyone, Paula advises. After the first session, usually coach and client know if it will be a good fit.

“Some people really thrive on getting information and running with it. So coaching is not a good fit for them. If I can tell it’s not going to be a fit, I release them from any kind of obligation.”

The first session addresses, what intrigued you to come to coaching? What’s on your mind. Why is that important to you? What changes do you want to make? Because it deals with behavior modification and behavior change, Paula suggests the coaching continues for at least three months.

“Ninety days really solidifies behavior change,” she says. “How do we live our lives so we can support ourselves, do what we want to do and be happy. That’s what coaching is all about.”

Is coaching right for you?

As lung cancer survivors and caregivers, we have all been through extremely traumatic experiences. Is coaching right for you? I can’t answer that question for you, but I would encourage you to consider coaching or some other form of professional support to help realign your life after lung cancer disrupted it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.