Coach Interview Series: Lotoya Charles

by Brandon

Lotoya Charles

Licensed Counselor, Transformational Coach, and Certified Hypnotherapist

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 Lotoya Charles. Lotoya is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Transformational Coach, and Certified Hypnotherapist based in New York, NY.

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

Lotoya: My practice is a combination of coaching, counseling, hypnosis, and energy healing. When clients come to me, they’re coming with a range of issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and career issues but most of the work I do is around relationships, self-esteem and limiting beliefs. The majority of clients I work with are women, anywhere from in their 20’s to 60’s, but I also work with men. In addition to working with clients individually, I also host groups and workshops.

NCA: What initially got you interested in becoming a coach back in the beginning of your career?

Lotoya: A lot of it, honestly, began from life experiences — specifically around the way I grew up. I grew up in a Caribbean household and a lot of issues like addiction, depression and other mental health issues were normalized. They weren’t acknowledged and they certainly weren’t addressed.

Whenever I was dealing with a problem I never felt like the people around me would understand. So I never really spoke to anyone; I just suffered in silence, which is something I think a lot of people do this this day. But that also helped me realize the importance of support and I knew that I wanted to be in a position to provide support for others, particularly when they were going through difficult times.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling so I began my career as a licensed therapist. I had been in therapy myself and even though it was a great experience — to this day I still love my therapist, for me it felt like therapy wasn’t deep enough. I also think I was aware of many of the issues and challenges I had I just wasn’t sure how to change them. I wanted results. And that’s what seemed to be missing from therapy.

I was invited to a 2 day workshop one weekend and the facilitator was a life coach. I loved the workshop so much that I decided to sign up for her coaching program. Within 10 weeks of working with her I was able to get such great results — keep in mind that prior to this I had been in therapy on a weekly basis for a year. I knew I wanted to help clients experience life changing results in the same way. I was also aware that like me, most of my clients knew what was wrong, and they too, were looking for a change. That was what caused me make the transition from counseling to coaching.

The type of coaching I do specifically is transformational coaching which is looking at the limiting beliefs that people have about themselves and how those beliefs show up in different areas of their life such as relationships and career. I believe most people know what they want but they are held back by that negative voice inside their head, fear, doubt, or limiting beliefs such as “I’m not good enough”. Our beliefs impact our behaviors, so by helping clients change their belief systems, I’m also helping them get out of their own way so they can take action in order to get the results they want.

NCA: In working with your clients, what would you say is the most rewarding part of that process and on the flip side of that, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Lotoya: The most challenging aspect is allowing clients to go through the process of change. We all go into this industry because we want to help people and don’t want to see them suffer or struggle longer than they already have. If I could take way everyone’s pain I would but I had to realize my job isn’t to fix people. It’s to guide and support them in achieving the changes they want. And for change to happen, someone has to realize that there is a problem and most importantly, they have to take action in order to get a different result.

As a therapist and coach I have to meet clients where they are in that process of change and sometimes that means allowing clients to discover for themselves what’s wrong and how to change it; I can’t just tell them. And it’s so much more powerful and effective when clients are able to come to realizations on their own; it’s a real ah-ha moment. In the same way I can’t push my own agenda because sometimes clients aren’t ready to take action; they first need to talk things through, process what’s going on and explore all options before making a decision.

The most rewarding aspect is when a client has a breakthrough. Sometimes clients are so deep in the process that they don’t even realize all the ways in which they have grown and how much they have been able to accomplish. For me to see someone transform in front of me and most importantly, knowing that I was able to be a part of that process — that someone trusted me enough to let me in on deep and intimate aspects of their lives and also trusted me enough to help them, it’s such a good feeling at the end of the day.

The amount of people that I’ve been able to impact has been tremendous. When I look back at that first year, as difficult and painful as it was, it’s been worth it in so many ways to get to where I am now.

NCA: Can you think of a mentor or a coach in your own career who was the most vital to your success and in what ways did this mentor help you thrive in your career?

Lotoya: I’ve had mentors, coaches, therapists and healers throughout my entire career and that’s something that has played such an instrumental role in me getting to where I am now. From the point I started seeing my own therapist when I was in graduate school to this day I have several people that I work with.

For me, in addition to having support and guidance a mentor and coach is someone who can help you put things into perspective, help you get out of your own way, and really help you navigate your goals. A mentor or coach is someone you admire, and oftentimes, they’ve already accomplished a great level of success. They are where you would like to be. I always say if it took that person 10 years to get to where they are in their career, they should be able to show me how to get there in 5 years because having gone through the process, they know what works and what doesn’t work.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is just starting out on their path to becoming a coach? What’s one piece of guidance you would offer them?

Lotoya: In many ways the work we do is a reflection of us. I know for me to start my own business and get to where I am now there were a lot of things I had work on within myself. In working as a coach I think personal and professional development is so necessary. The clients that are coming to our office and are choosing us, out of everyone else they could have chosen to help them, are doing so for a reason. I know for me, all of my clients have reminded me of myself in some way, shape, or form. And the reason I am able to help them and I’m so good at what I do is because I have been where they are. The only reason I can help them is because I was first able to help myself.

The other piece of advice I can give is to remain focused on what you want and don’t give up because things aren’t happening when and how you expected them to. I remember when I started my business in 2016. From the moment I launched my website, I thought I was going to start seeing clients right away and my business would take off. It took almost a year for me to get my first client. During that year, there were so many times I thought about going back to work for someone else. I had quit my job and I didn’t have a source of income. I had bills I still needed to pay. And everyone around me was telling me to find a job.

I listened. I found another job but the funny things was, going to that job actually made me feel worse because there was a part of me that knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do. As a difficult as it was continuing to find ways to get myself out there and promote my business, it was more difficult getting up and going to someone’s dream knowing I had my own to fulfill. I quite that job after three days.

It’s going on four years now since I’ve had my business and the amount of people that I’ve been able to impact has been tremendous. When I look back at that first year, as difficult and painful as it was, it’s been worth it in so many ways to get to where I am now.

I think it’s the same for any career. It’s the same for anything that you’re passionate about. It’s not going to be easy. A lot of times we see people who are successful but we see where they are currently. We see the success. We see the millions. We see the fame. But we don’t know what it took for them to get to that point.

Also, things are often the most difficult right before you’re about to have a breakthrough. That’s the time when you’re most tempted to give up but you actually need to hold on a little bit longer before things turn around. What has helped me is knowing that I have a tribe, a group of people I am meant to impact. And only I can reach those people. If I were to give up those people would still be in need. I think about the impact my coaches and mentors have had on my life and I knew I would be lost without them because to this day I haven’t met other coaches or mentors I connect with the same way I connect with them. I think it’s the same for the clients I work with.

When I started my business I told myself that I would find a way to make it work or I would die trying. That’s what has helped me get to where I am now.

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