Why I’m Back in School
Ever since my early twenties (not really sure how that could be more than 15 years ago??), I wanted to be a marriage and family therapist. I desperately wanted to help others who have painful histories and walk alongside them as they found freedom from their pasts.
It was hard for me to be patient.
There were multiple times in the last 15 years that I wanted to go back to school to get my master’s degree, but each time I tried to open that door, it was quickly thrown shut (and not by me, mind you). I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had much of my own healing to do before I could help others. I realize now just how vital it is that anyone helping others needs to have gone through the process of healing themselves before they can effectively assist someone else through their pain.
After going through 10 months of counseling myself, facing my own tormenting past, and walking through many dark valleys before emerging into the bright, refreshing world of freedom, I was once again confronted with my desire to help others.
One day though, about halfway through counseling, my therapist said something that made me rethink where I was heading.
She mentioned how rare it is for people to actually do the homework, that many people didn’t want to put in the effort to actually change.
It was just a side comment, not the focus of our session, but it really made me think.
Do I want to go through three years of schooling, writing a thesis, and a mountain of red tape and bureaucracy (I do live in California, after all) just to end up trying to help people who don’t really want to put in the work to help themselves?
It’s not that I didn’t want to try to help people anymore. It was just that I wasn’t sure becoming a therapist was the right path for me.
But what other options did I have?
So I started to do some research. I took a personality test to see if I was, in fact, gifted in this area or whether it was just a pipe dream that I needed to let go of. Thankfully, the results showed that counseling and something called “coaching” people was one of my knacks.
I wasn’t exactly sure what “coaching” was, so I started to do some research. And this is what I discovered:
Counseling is addressing past hurts and trauma, dealing with the past. Coaching is coming alongside someone, helping them get from where they are to where they want to be. And both are great.
Now, I will say, having gone through counseling myself, that there is definitely an element of “coaching” in counseling as well. And the more I researched life coaching, the more I was getting excited. This was what I was looking for!
I looked into many certification programs. I needed something online, something I could do in my “spare” time, and something that was reputable and respected. Ultimately, after much research and prayer, I settled on Light University. They are part of the International Christian Coaching Association, as well as the American Association of Christian Counselors.
One of the things that drew me to Light University’s program was the fact that I could gain certification in specific areas like health & wellness, parenting, or women’s coaching (in addition to many others). Many other programs didn’t offer this emphasis. Classes start every month, and are five weeks long. I could take one class now, skip a few months, and then continue on, or I could do them back-to-back.
I’m just wrapping up my first course (Intro to Christian Life Coaching), and I have already learned so much. The things I’m learning have already helped me in my personal and business relationships. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that I need to be ok with the fact that I won’t be able to help everyone.
I’ve learned that it’s vital for me to have a niche, and to stick with that niche. If my areas of expertise are adoptive parenting and health & wellness, and if someone comes to me to coach them through their divorce process, I need to be ok saying I am not the best fit for them, and referring them to someone else who I respect.
Another vital tip I’ve learned is that asking great questions will lead to great development. I guess I always thought of counseling and coaching as giving people advice. But what I now know is that coaching is anything but giving advice. It’s truly about asking probing questions that help each person discover the answers for themselves.
Here are a few more highlights I’ve learned:
*Jesus is the ultimate “life coach”
*Life coaching is a certification, not a license (as opposed to counseling, which requires an accredited master’s degree, licensing exams, strict accountability and is highly regulated)
*Life coaching can be done in a variety of ways: over the phone, Google chat or Skype, or in person
There are five stages of change for people:
*Pre-contemplation (they’re unaware of their problem, or don’t care to fix it)
*Contemplation (they’re aware of the problem and want to do something, but aren’t quite ready to make the emotional investment”)
*Preparation (the person takes action i.e., losing weight, and is ready to move forward)
*Action (actual behavioral changes occur, and plans are being implemented)
*Maintenance (they continue their “action” behaviors and continue to move forward, even with setbacks)
Here are some great questions I’ve learned to ask potential clients:
Where are you right now?
What do you like about where you are right now?
What don’t you like about your current circumstances?
What do you care deeply about?
How has God made you unique?
What are your spiritual gifts? Talents? Strengths? Life experiences?
The instructors through Light University are knowledgeable, insightful, and are providing me excellent training and tools for when I step out into the waters of Christian life coaching. I’m starting my second course this week (Principles of Christian Life Coaching), and am giddy with anticipation over what I will learn! I’ll be sharing some highlights of this course with you in the next few weeks.
Do you have a heart for helping others? Are you a good listener? Do you enjoy one-on-one conversations? Are you already a lay counselor, pastor or other ministry leader? Maybe life coaching is for you!
Light University has an excellent referral program. If you are interested in starting their Christian life coaching certification process, click HERE and fill out the form. Just put my name and email (Shanti Landon, firstname.lastname@example.org) as the person who referred you. When you register, you will receive your first course for just $99, which is a $700 discount off the current tuition rate.
I hope this post has been insightful and helpful for you! If you have any questions about the Light University program, I would be happy to help! You can contact me HERE with any questions!