Coach Interview Series: Kathleen Riley

by Brandon

Kathleen Riley

Energy Medicine Expert

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Kathleen Riley. Kathleen is an Energy Medicine Expert and Certified Integrative Holistic Health Practitioner based in Troy, Michigan.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Kathleen: My practice is holistic. I practice energy medicine with a coach approach. I teach my clients the discovery of who they are using a combination of coaching and some of the hands-on protocols for people to learn how to heal themselves.

NCA: What initially got you interested in becoming a coach?

Kathleen: It was my intuition, actually. I had a feeling. It was probably around 1998 and I had a feeling that there was more aside from people going into therapy, whether it was for mental illness or for personal growth or whatever. That’s what prompted me to do some research and to see what was out there so that I could change my direction to help others.

I then met with a psychotherapist friend who informed me that there actually is a name for what I was trying to figure out. He told me that it was called coaching and then I did my research. At the time, I found Coach University, so I signed up. To be honest with you, when I signed up, I was like, “What am I doing?” It was so new back then and I signed up as a lifetime member. I made a pretty substantial investment at that time.

Initially, I wasn’t getting into it. I stepped away from it for a while and then again, that intuition kicked in after my mother died. I got a brochure in the mail telling me my membership was going to be taken away if I did not pursue this. I said to myself, “Okay, I get it.” It was a wink from the universe. I went back into it full force and actually ended up with an Advanced Corporate Coaching certification which was double the amount of time I initially set out to put in. I don’t remember the exact number of credit hours invested, but it took a long time to finish.

It was prior to the Great Recession. I decided that I needed to really make a career change and to get out of publishing because the magazine publishing industry was falling apart back then. I had a premonition and saw thousands of people losing their jobs. I thought, “Okay. I need to take this coaching to another level.” I went and looked in the Yellow Pages and I looked for outplacement. I thought, “You know what? That’s what I need to do: some career coaching.” And that’s exactly what happened. I reached out to an outplacement firm who worked with manufacturing tier one automotive suppliers across the country.

I got the job. I ended up running an office in Detroit and also coaching. I was doing the marketing, running the day-to-day business, and coaching executives. It was cool because, “Oh my God. I really got what I set out to do.” I did that for four years and made it through all of the downsizing. It was terrible. It was horrific to see people losing their jobs. But this investment I made really paid off because it was my heart’s desire. It was what I loved to do.

From there, it was kind of funny. I felt a call to healing — a deeper call. I went back to school and that’s when I was able to blend this holistic approach. I’m not doing hands-on healing. I’m teaching people how to heal themselves with simple tapping techniques, meditation, and holding your hands on the different energy centers in the body to remove blockages. It goes really nice with coaching because I can empower my clients. It’s an amazing process. When you pair coaching with another modality or with training, you know that the results increase substantially. There’s even research behind that. That was my new thing to do and it has taken several years to master.

It’s an honor to sit in the seat of being a coach. It’s using those basic coaching techniques along with bringing in holistic protocols. I have a workbook my clients work out of. It’s all about empowering the client as participants in their own healing process and they accelerate.

What I have found is everybody has their own brand of spirituality. Everybody has their own emotional spiritual anatomy that comes into the sessions. I simply put my coach hat on and facilitate the process.

NCA: It sounds like coaching has been following you for some time and it took you awhile to fully dive in, but it sounds like you definitely made the right choice.

Kathleen: That’s right. It pushed me. A lot of things pushed. The things that you resist are the things that you really need to do. [laughing]

NCA: What would you say is the most challenging part of the work that you do? What has brought you the most difficulty or something that you’re still struggling to achieve even now?

Kathleen: Personally, my biggest challenge is change. I don’t resist change. In fact, I really like change a lot and I like growth a lot. But with growth and change, it’s almost as if you’re always starting over. You’re always reaching up. You’re always going to the next place and always relaunching. That’s the challenge.

But now that I’ve been at this for quite a while, I welcome it now. In fact, I’m going through another really big change with my practice and I’m embracing it and it’s exciting. I know what’s going on. I’m in the middle of a transition right now and there’s sometimes the quiet before the storm. I’m in this peaceful little quiet space right now. I know that there’s a lot more to come, but I’m just enjoying this present time of peace and reflecting and not knowing what to expect and just letting that happen.

NCA: One of the most common challenges new coaches face is self-doubt. Some coaches call it Imposter Syndrome, where early on they feel somehow inadequate to take on the role of coach. What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stage of their coaching career and dealing with these doubts in their mind?

Kathleen: Money is a factor here. Money is a big factor. I would advise to do a parallel pursuit for a time which is not an easy thing to do. Whether you’re in a job or you’re in a career that you can’t stand, if you’re going to transition into coaching, I would say do as much as possible as far as building the business side that you can on your own time while you’re working because that in itself can take several months to get a business set up. It can take a year or two or three.

The basics of building a business takes a lot. This is probably a good five-year plan. It’s a gradual thing and you want to always have that safety net. Once you let go, you got to know how to let go. It’s never going to be perfect. You might say, “Okay. I want 10 clients.” Well, you might ended up with six. You have to be prepared. Have you gotten your personal expenses down as far as possible? That’s another thing. You really have to clean up your finances. There’s a lot of preparation that I would advise somebody who was going into this career.

Once you flip from the old career into this new career, you might also take a part-time job doing something like work in a clothing store because you love clothes. You could work as a caregiver. You can do a lot of things that are on your bucket list that you would love to do.

If your purpose is to be a coach, then you have to do whatever it takes to get there. Just like a student, or somebody who goes to medical school. You got to really take yourself seriously. It has a lot of little twists and turns that you don’t expect. But you do whatever it takes and you get there.

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