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Coaching the Young Client

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We would suggest that an even more important factor is at play—or should be at play.  If professional coaching is for people in transition and for employees who work in organizations that are in transition, then coaching of men and women from all generations should be an imperative. After all, the young adult is certainly in transition and increasingly the mature adult is transitioning to a second (or third or fourth) career and is coping with newly emerging expectations regarding the active life to be found during the later years of life.  While we could focus on the challenge of coaching older adults, we will focus in this brief essay on the challenge (and opportunity) of coaching the young adult.

The Opportunity

The absence of much coaching for young adults was vividly displayed in a recent experience that one of us [WB] had while traveling to a conference in California.

A young woman volunteered to pick me up at the Los Angeles airport. She drove me to a speaking engagement about coaching.  Given the heavy LA traffic, we had plenty of time to chat. She mentioned that she was finding it hard getting clients since she was only in her mid-20s and looked even younger. I suggested that she could consider setting up a specialized coaching practice working with young adults perhaps enrolled in a college or graduate school or working in a start-up high tech business. We talked about TGIF get-togethers at the end of a busy work or study week. Young men and women could be introduced at these gatherings to the idea of coaching.  Some of the young people might be trained and certified as peer coaches. My youthful driver became quite animated and offered many other ideas about how to market coaching to other people her own age or younger. She was very excited about this prospect. I don’t know if she followed through on this or not, but it certainly got me thinking about the opportunities in marketing to and working with this younger population. I began to regret that I wasn’t still in my 20s!

In the case of this aspiring coach there was the challenge of being young herself. Young coaches usually do not have much credibility with older clients. Much as in the case of the young psychotherapist, there is an age bias in the field of professional coaching. It is a bias against youth rather than in favor of youth. Most coaching (and therapy) clients want to work with someone who is of the same age or older. This young woman in Los Angeles, however, may have considerable credibility (or at least a shared perspective) with young clients.

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