Soulwork Home Page

Check your spelling

Soulwork Online Help

Soulwork Humor: Funny stories


Soulwork Systemic Coaching: Summary

Soulwork Coach Training

Soulwork FAQ Questions & Answers


Emotional Issues
Anger & Rage

Eating Problems
Emotional Maturity
Grief & Loss
Inner Child

Pain Control
Stress Relief

Toxic Beliefs
Trauma & Stress
Weight Loss


Relationship Problems

Dissolve Conflicts
Emotional Blackmail

Enjoy Partnership
Evaluate Partners
Long-Distance Love
Love & Hate

Past Partners
Sexual Issues
Soul Mates


Family Challenges

Brothers & Sisters
Divorce & Children
Emotional Incest
Family Meetings
Family Secrets

Fathers & Daughters
Fathers & Sons
Learning Disorders
Mothers & Daughters
Mothers & Sons

Parental Alienation


Life Lessons
Bad Habits
Being Alone
Children's Challenges
Observing Feelings

Patterns in Love
Personal Growth
Quantum Leap
Self Esteem
Self Improvement
Self Intimacy
Stress & Relaxing
Therapist and Clients


Chaos Coaching

Inner Conflict
Expert Modeling
Learning Disorders

Sexual Abuse
Soul of Soulwork
Systemic Management
Therapist Abuse
Training Abuse



Interview with Martyn
Fee, Cost, Price

eXTReMe Tracker

Tips for Coaches & Counselors
Coaching Friends, Family & Other Issues © Martyn Carruthers

Online Life Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

Tips, Traps & Pitfalls for Helping Professionals

We see some terrible things,
and some of those things are even more terrible because they are normal.

Common Coaching & Counseling Problems

Some people have dreams that appear exaggerated - for example, people who hope to become extremely successful with minimal or no effort. Do you support unrealistic dreams knowing that they are unlikely to be unfulfilled - or do you try to find acceptable, achievable goals that allow real progress?

While we coach exceptional people to get exceptional results, most people seem to unconsciously block or sabotage themselves. Motivating people to follow irrational dreams is not coaching with integrity - and affects our ability to build trust and cooperation.

I prefer to offer interim goals or steps that, when reached, lead on to the next steps. And many of these interim steps are to manage self-sabotage - to change emotional habits, immature beliefs and to solve relationship problems.

Coaching & Counseling Friends

Some people may assume that their acquaintance or relationship with you implies that you should freely provide your coaching, therapy or counseling skills for them. After all - don't you help people solve relationship, cognitive, success and emotional problems? And isn't that what friends do?

If you want to lose friends and not influence people - accept friends as free clients. Unless you carefully set up and maintain a professional space - your friends may cease to be your friends - and not become your clients.

I'm not talking about casual conversation - I'm talking about you dedicating your time, knowledge and skills on your friend's life during intense, focused private work. I'm talking about helping them wash their dirty underwear. I'm talking about open-heart surgery.

Healthy people will later feel obligated towards you, and dislike feeling in your debt. To avoid that feeling of debt (often called guilt) they may look for a way to repay you - or they may unconsciously sabotage your free change-work. We find that (except in the beginning of your coaching career when free might be the right price) offering a free service is often a lose-lose proposition!

Also, when working with friends, you may uncover some emotional or financial conflicts of interest. Someone may ask you for coaching on how to expand into your specialties ... in your home area. (It happens!) If you are successful - then you could feel stupid. And if you are not successful ... you probably won't like that feeling either.

You can set up an emotionally clean space for professional coaching friends or family - which is not easy; or you can refer friends and family to other helping professionals. Or you can risk losing your friends and alienating your family.

Martyn, against your advice, I coached my younger brother on his
marriage at his request. He ended up dumping his emotions on me ...
he blames me for his divorce and says he does not want to see me again!

Similarly, avoid befriending clients. Be friendly, but leave a potential deep friendship until after you have finished your work. Avoid decreasing your objectivity and increasing the risk of transference. Avoid building conflict, stress and codependence.

Enjoy gratitude while it is still warm - people often forget after a day or two.

Are you Ready? Who is Ready for You?

Let's assume that you know your ideal clients - their lifestyles, incomes and goals.
  1. Do you have any unproductive habits?

  2. Why do you ant to coach these people?
  3. Do you have any unconscious objections?

  4. How can you best approach these people?
  5. What will you gain from helping these people?
  6. How might these people perceive your coaching?
  7. What beliefs or opinions may influence their attitudes?
  8. What skills can you develop to better serve these people?
  9. Can you discuss their difficult thoughts and feelings with them?
  10. What attitudes, beliefs or biases might interfere with helping these people?

Coaching & Counseling Family Members

If you want to alienate family members, just push your coaching or counseling at them! Not only are you unlikely to enjoy success, your family may react against you, unless they perceive you as having very high authority and dripping with pearls of wisdom. Is this likely? Really? I doubt it.

And would that be a role you want? The higher your pedestal - the further you can fall. If you try to work with your family because they really need it - what are the likely consequences of success ... and failure? It's probably much better to refer your family members to appropriate colleagues (perhaps with a reciprocal arrangement that you offer to work with your colleagues' family).

Coaching family members in specific behavioral tasks such as cooking or car repair is generally safe and usually welcomed, if you are acknowledged as expert or at least as competent. But coaching family members to clean up their emotional baggage ... prefer to refer, prefer to refer.

Mentoring and coaching children (with a parent present!) can be wonderful. We primarily coach children within interactive, isomorphic metaphors. But when you open up strong emotions - you open up enmeshments, entanglements and unconscious bonds - and you may get lost.

As a rule, I will not coach my own family members and I will not coach children unless a parent is in the room and I have already worked with the parents first. Don't learn this the hard way.

Who coaches the people who coach the people?

Excuses, excuses, excuses

Whether you specialize in systemic coaching, couple counseling, therapy or organizational coaching ... or even spiritual mentorship ... you invest a huge amount of your time, your energy and your money to learn and practice these skills, to develop yourself as a coach, and to build your practice.

After a few thousand hours of individual, couple and family coaching, you will likely become very good at it - and also on hearing excuses. Some clients won't do homework and some clients will not be punctual. Some clients won't show for appointments, some may perpetually forget to pay you and one or two may try to cheat you. This will likely continue until you change your attitude.

I Missed my Appointment because...

The date on the calendar was closer than I thought
I'm sorry but I started to feel better
You didn't empower me enough
I discovered a fear of success
You're not seeing the big picture
I didn't tell you I wasn't coming in case you felt bad


How many times have you refused or postponed motivated clients to meet someone who does not show for an appointment? Or, maybe 15 minutes before, or maybe 15 minutes after, the appointed time, that person calls and say, "I'm sorry I can't come, because ... "

  • "... my relative / friend / pet was sick"
  • "... the bus / tram / train / taxi was late"
  • "... my car was not working / not available"
  • "... there was an accident / construction on the road"

Some of the stories may be true. Yet of those clients who did it to me once, over half did it twice. Of those whom you let do it twice, 90% will do it three times - or until you say STOP!

You can type on your appointment cards and confirmation emails, "Change appointments at least 24 hours in advance or you will be charged for the session." And follow through. You might say "I cannot charge them for something they did not get". Or, after one or two problems, charge them in advance (I have never had a no-show from a client who paid in advance!).

With my online service, many people pay after their session, and that's OK - but a missed payment means no more coaching until they pay their debt. Some people won't pay ... and I won't work with them.

Otherwise, during the next session, irritation and suspicion may interfere with your effectiveness. And they will likely do it again. And again. People pay you for your time - not for their own bad habits.

Laughter helps many people accept reality as it is.

ĎItís them letters you get to put after your name,í he whispered. ĎThey are very expensive letters! It might not cost much money to become a witch, but when you want them letters, oh, donít you need that money!í Terry Pratchett on credentials

Youíve taken a step. Now thereís a next step.
Every step is a next step if itís a step in the right direction.

Online Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2000-2018
All rights reserved.

If you like our work, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
please mention or

For online help, email us at:

Soulwork systemic coaching in America & Hawaii


Soulwork systemic coaching in England, Wales & Scotland

Soulwork systemic coaching in Croatia & Serbia

Soulwork systemic coaching in Poland



Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email