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  • Writer's pictureErika Bugbee, M.A.

Want to Coach Teens (or Anyone Else) but Feel Unqualified? Dispelling some Common Practitioner Myths

Part of my focus is on mentoring practitioners and coaches to build their practices, find their niche, and develop their confidence and presence with their clients.

To make today’s point, I’ll use examples of coaches wanting to work with young people, since people often feel insecure or uneasy about coaching young people more than adults.

Since I specialize in teens, and the demand for help in that population is huge and the number of providers are at an all-time low, there’s often an interest in working with them.

But what I hear over and over are the dozens of reasons why helping teens is something they could never be good at.

Here’s a few of the reasons people give me:

“My own teens roll their eyes when I talk, tell me I don’t get it, or I end up saying the wrong thing and making the situation worse.”

“My teens were never very troubled, not like the teens I hear about today. So how could I possibly help or relate with no experience to draw from?”

“I never really struggled myself. I did well in school, I had friends, I had the most boring childhood. Surely they’ll feel like I don’t get it. And maybe I don’t.”

“I haven’t raised kids of my own. Shouldn’t I have some first-hand experience talking to them and seeing what their world is like?”

While these may feel like valid concerns, we forge through all other areas of life with zero life experience.

Helping people is no different, even if the other person is your client and is struggling with something you’ve never been through.

But I find that practitioners so easily fall into doubt because they see their family and friends as ‘sample’ clients. And that’s not how it works.

The one thing practitioners often forget is that your teens, husband, or that friend you tried to help are very different from your clients in one important way: they’re not your clients. They didn’t invite you in.

I help lots of teens every day. Yet when it comes to my own kids, they want NOTHING to do with my help unless they ask (which they rarely do).

And when I forget and try to help without being invited, I get the eye-roll too.

If you’re starting a coaching practice, don’t judge your helping and rapport skills on your attempts to help your family and friends.

Your clients will be people that seek your help, and sacrifice their time and money to talk to you. They’re ready and interested.

They’ve invited you in.

You know when you shop and want to browse a store on your own, but some salesperson hovers, tries to make small-talk, and won’t go away even though you're borderline rude?

That's your teen. And we're the annoying sales people.

Your teens are not like clients looking for help. And they’re not receptive no matter how experienced you are.

Yet when I went to buy a wireless headset last week, I tracked down a sales person, and asked them all my questions. I wanted help, listened, and was happy for even the smallest amount of info he had. That’s who your clients are.

The potential to feel fully confident is available for any practitioner. It doesn’t matter whether they have the ‘right’ kind of background of experience. The desire to help, listen, bring some new perspective and a fresh set of eyes - that’s what actually matters.

Your 'credentials' and background aren't a factor.

And anyone that cares enough about people to pursue a coaching path has all those things inside them already.

That’s what today’s video is about.

This is the kind of topic I cover in my practitioner mentoring programs. If you're interested in 1:1 or group training programs, visit the 'Practitioner' tab on my website.

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