For 10 years many lawyers and mediators have been referring their clients to me for emotional and behavioural support and help though the stress of separation and divorce and the many issues that this brings.
I have helped in various ways, enabling clients to make firm decisions, to have the strength and confidence to travel through the process, to build communication and understanding channels, and helping them to help their children.
Lately I have also been part of the new wave to bring more flexible processes to help clients, such as 5 way meetings, improving communication skills in mediation, parenting plans and the intake (MELCA like) form of collaborative divorce.
When is the best time to present the concept of coaching to the client?
• At an initial meeting
• As part of the information pack sent out by the law practice
• On the lawyer’s website
• At regular intervals throughout the process, so the client is always aware of the resource and becomes more comfortable with the idea
• According to the emotional needs of the individual client throughout the process
• At any time the client seems stuck, indecisive, blocked by emotions or unable to cope
It’s crucial to explain that coaching is more about dealing with situations and moving on, rather than exploring the past and past issues.
Suggestions for successful referral
Lawyers usually have the most success when they explain that coaching is not just about talking, but will also teach the client skills, tools and techniques for:
• Feeling more in control, and able to cope with stress
• Understanding their own beliefs and behaviours
• Understanding the beliefs and behaviours of others
Be comfortable with presenting coaching to your client:
• Regularly, so that the client becomes familiar with the idea
• In a matter of fact manner, to avoid any inference or implication that the client is lacking or unstable in any way
• As a normal part of the process
• With a generic and appropriate explanation of how coaching has benefited other clients
The approaches that result in the best uptake
• Filling in a referral form with the client
• As a statement of need, not ‘perhaps’ or ‘maybe’
• Booking the appointment for them
• Giving the coach the client’s number, as they may be finding it difficult to just make the first telephone call
• Handing out the coaching leaflet and website address
• Looking at the website with the client so they can discuss it
• Providing testimonials and examples of previous clients helped
• Asking if the client would be happy with the coach meeting them when they attend a session with the lawyer
• Suggesting that they may like a short telephone conversation to see if coaching is for them, with no obligation to proceed