Newsletter #429 – From Therapist to Coach

When I learned about David Steele’s new book I was intrigued by a title that promised answers to questions that many of my coaching students bring to class. From Therapist to Coach: How to Leverage Your Clinical Expertise to Build a Thriving Coaching Practice focuses on counselors but it goes further. It deals realistically with the challenges of becoming a coach and includes practical guidelines that apply to any new business startup. Steele gets dull at times (don’t we all?) but overall he writes with energy, passion, humor and a wealth of experience in building a private practice. Among the insightful conclusions:

  • Carefully choose your niche. A niche identifies the individuals or groups with whom you work most effectively and passionately. Your niche sets you apart from others and makes you the preferred “go to” person for a specific group or segment of society. Selecting and building a niche takes time and should build on careful research. Find people who might be in your potential niche. Spend time with them. Find what they need and want. Determine why you are the best provider for your niche. Many coaches fail because they choose poorly or don’t connect with their niche group and the group’s real needs.
  • Don’t assume that marketing is enough. The author includes helpful marketing principles, starting with the “three primary forms of marketing:” public speaking, writing, and networking. But marketing only attracts potential buyers of your services. Equally important is converting prospects to clients or buyers. Marketing does little if you don’t enroll interested people into signing on for your services.
  • Get coach training. Steele is a trained therapist who built a successful private practice. Even so, he argues persuasively that experience or training in therapy or any other occupation does not qualify one to be a coach. If you want to be a competent coach, consider reading this argument in support of quality training.

Does this sound too much like turning coaching and other forms of people building into a cold business venture? Maybe so, but few coaches (especially private practice coaches or counselors) become successful if they overlook business principles. Please comment with your perspective.


  1. I think your last statement gets to the heart of the matter. It is important not to overlook business principles, but how many coaches in the stream were drawn into it out of their hearts?

    I’ve found that is good and necessary to train up (hone and focus) that stirring in you and make sure you can stay in business (fund your desires).

    Since I have become more aware of mainstream coaching, I’ve noticed there are more folks out there doing it but most seem to be working from a business perspective; delivering it as yet another service, focusing more about the delivery than the hearts they are connecting with.

    That being said, David’s book is going on the reading table. Many perspectives, especially well articulate ones, will sharpen your own.


    1. Hey Ken, I hope you will let me know what you think when you get the time to read David’s book. I will be using it in a class next month and will be interested to learn what my graduate students will think about this.


  2. I think what you have to say is hugely relevant. I was fortunate enough to gain valuable business expertise before changing my focus to that of a coach and counsellor by following my heart and finding my calling as opposed to my career. Even with that I decided to go off an enhance my qualifications in this area by gaining a Masters of Business Coaching which means I have been able to learn 1) how to apply my skills in a business context 2) keep me up to date with the latest in business approaches and philosophies both hugely important to running a successful practice. I havent read the book yet but will add it to my must read list. Thanks for the overview to help me see whether its of value or not. Keep up the good work.


    1. Carol, where did you get a Masters in Business Coaching? I get a lot of requests for recommendations about where to get solid coach training, especially programs that are academically based. I am always looking for good recommendations. Sadly, my sense is that many programs are not worth recommending.


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