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  • Writer's pictureCarina V

Coaching Relationship Flags

Disclaimer: This is not intended to slander or defame any person, organisation, or the coaching field as a whole, but to raise awareness for things to be on the lookout for. I am speaking here from my own experience of working in the spiritual coaching/guidance field over a number of years. I do share my own opinions on this, and I do speak generally in these points, so absolutely trust yourself and your own intuition when applying these points. Although I no longer refer to myself as a "coach", I did at one point, and these points still apply, in my opinion, to coach-client or student-teacher relationships.

Remember, your coach, guide, mentor or teacher is human too, and they are also on their own path of learning. They may make mistakes, and as long as they are willing to be humble and admit it, and are genuine in their desire to grow through these mistakes, that is something to be admired.

Relationship Red Flags

These are the things to watch out for, or at the very least, should be raised as concerns.

  1. It is stated or implied you are not equal - even if someone is stepping into the role of guide, mentor, coach or teacher, you are still their equal. Being in the position or taking on the role of a guide, coach, mentor or teacher is an honour and a privilege and not something that gives someone status over you.

  2. It is stated or implied that you need them - this, to me, is a potential indication of a co-dependent relationship. And, while you might recognise the need and requirement of support, it should not be dependent on a single person.

  3. It is stated or implied that they know better for you than you do - even if someone has experience in navigating the situation you are facing and believes they know a better outcome for you, or they disagree with your assessment, you are still responsible for yourself and have agency over your own life and decisions. Anyone believing or claiming that they should be making or dictating decisions for your life might very well have a hidden agenda that does not serve your best interests.

  4. You are made to feel shamed, guilty or bad - love does not punish, and though many of us might be familiar with negative reinforcement, you do not need to experience that in a relationship in order to grow.

  5. Triggers are explained away as growth - yes, you are responsible for your feelings and healing, and you might be triggered while working with a coach, guide, mentor or teacher, but your relationship is a two-way street. If you recognise that you are working on healing the trigger, but that there is no willingness on the part of the coach, guide, mentor or teacher to be accountable for any misstep on their part, that is a sign that a boundary is required.

Relationship Green Flags

These are the things that are indicative of a healthy and supportive relationship.

  1. The focus of the relationship is on empowering you - if the goal and agenda of the coach, guide, mentor or teacher is to help you help yourself, to empower you through teaching you tools and resources to be able to navigate life's challenges and learn to grow your own confidence in doing so, this is a very good sign.

  2. There is an aim to help you "graduate" the relationship - even if you choose to work with a coach, guide, mentor or teacher for a number of years, you still have the freedom to realise when the relationship has run its course, and when you no longer have need of their guidance. This allows for an interdependent and balanced relationship.

  3. It is safe to be open and honest - honouring openness and honesty in your relationship builds trust, which is essential for this kind of a relationship. It means you can freely question and disagree without it being taken personally or causing a permanent rupture in the relationship. That does not mean personally attacking the coach, guide, mentor or teacher either through undermining them, but if there is a genuine and sincere desire to seek the truth and to be authentic, that should be acknowledged.

  4. It is safe for you to have boundaries - balanced relationships honour boundaries, and the need for them. It is also safe to communicate boundaries and they are respected by both parties in the relationship.

  5. They practice what they preach - it might not be something you can verify at all times based on how close you are in the relationship, but if you can clearly see signs that what they communicate to you are also what your coach, guide, mentor or teacher holds themselves to or is aiming to grow into or work toward, that is a sign of someone in integrity.

Your support network is the solid ground from which you can propel yourself upwards. - Anna Barnes

It is a beautiful thing to open yourself up to a relationship with a coach, guide, mentor or teacher if you feel that this will help and support you on your path. It does not mean you are weak, or that you can't trust yourself. Rather, it means you are honouring when you do require help or support and are willing to invest into yourself in this way.

If you would like to work with me, you can find out more about doing so here:

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