When Life Get’s in the Way of Coaching

“In a time of crisis it is our duty as CBT-Fitness Health Coaches & Fitness Professionals to find the best solution for our clients.” 

The death of a loved one, acute illness, the loss of a job, we all experience significant life events from time to time, and of course this can happen to our beloved clients. Some life events can be contained by the client, and perhaps even become an opportunity to practice the coping/CBT-Skills you have been teaching them. At these times, coaches and clients face a significant dilemma: “Should we follow our planned programming as usual, or do we need to consider other options?”

You may need to consider the follow possibilities:

  • Continuing coaching, perhaps after reviewing goals. You can also use a session to problem-solve how the client can best cope with the recent event.
  • Take a break from coaching for a set amount of time, or until such event has passed.
  • Ending coaching for the time being, and picking it up again when the client is more ready.

In such circumstances, you need to discuss and agree the best way forward with your client, taking into account the following:

  • How far through the program are they.
  • How long the difficult events or situations are likely to last. (If relatively brief, then a break in programming may be easier).
  • To what extent current or planned coaching strategies might actually help your client cope with the crisis, and should therefore be continued.
  • Whether the coaching relationship is likely to be negatively affected by taking a break in coaching.

If there is a break, try to maintain program progress by working on a temporary blueprint that highlights the most important lessons from your coaching so far. As with any Blueprint, this should cover:

  • A Plan-B protocol to cover unforeseen circumstances- especially when your client is unable to follow their regular food and/or training plan. (Click here to use our Emergency-Fit Blueprint).
  • A detailed one-page blueprint that your client can have on hand that will include the following Q&A’s:
    • How did the problem develop?
    • What keeps the problem going?
    • What has been helpful in coaching so far?
    • What are the most unhelpful thoughts and beliefs I have been able to identify so far?
    • What might be some reasonable alternatives?
    • What have I learned that might help me manage this current crisis? (ie. clean eating, working-out, using my distraction-list, practicing relaxed breathing).
    • What pitfalls might there be and how might I cope with these?
    • What do I need to do to maintain the progress I have made so far?
    • What supportive resources are still available to me?

As fitness professionals, life will throw our clients curve balls. It is our duty to make sure that our coaching practice plans for the unexpected. By having an Emergency-Fit Blueprint in place – our clients will be better equipped to handle life stressors.

Reference: Oxford Guide to Surviving as a CBT Therapist. Marta Mueller, Hellen Kennerley, Freda McManus, David Westbrook. Oxford University Press. 2010.


Picture of Jill Bunny

Jill Bunny

As CEO of CBT Meets Fitness, Jill Bunny provides the vision and leadership to further our mission: to improve mental health & fitness worldwide through excellence in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She manages internal operations and oversees the creation of new programs. She also manages the expansion of existing programs to increase access to CBT training and certification programs for health & fitness professionals in North America. She holds a degree in Kinesiology, from the University of New Brunswick, along with Functional Medicine certification from IFMHC, and CBT qualifications from the University of Laurier, Penn State & Beck’s Institute in the US.

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CBT Meets Fitness is the bridge between psychotherapy + fitness.

We are comprised of educated professionals specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for things like depression, anxiety, and numerous other psychological concerns pertaining to weight loss, athletics, as well as dieting & exercise. Our experts use clinically-proven methods, which make us the premier online CBT fitness treatment centre in North America. At CBT Meets Fitness, we are proud to serve women & athletes across the globe with evidence based skills to help with the missing mental piece of health & fitness transformations and athletic success.

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