Why Coaches take on cases beyond their training

Why Coaches take on cases beyond their training

Coaches take on cases beyond their training for a number of reasons and one way of exploring this is with mini-script as discussed in my last blog about a client case study.

In my Supervision Groups I often work with Coaches who have fallen into the trap of taking on too much. When I say too much I mean a number of things:

  • Perhaps taking on clients when you don’t have the time, energy or emotional space for your practice.
  • Taking on clients that present with “red flags” (we will talk about that another day)
  • Taking on clients with issues outside your “scope” because you “feel” the client needs help now.

NB: Your Scope is the type of client that is a good fit for your experience, level of training or speciality areas. It can also be about niche or interest areas too.

It is the last example I want to talk to you about today as it is so very common. It comes from a place of kindness and compassion. Even so, it is likely driven by unhealthy internal patterns. When you take on a client you are not equipped to deal with you may do more harm than good.

You are a Coach because you want to make a difference, you want to help people and you may even feel that Coaching is your life purpose.

These are good reasons to be a Coach and you will bring some amazing qualities to your practice. You will also risk stepping into the trap of taking on a client because you don’t want to let them down.

As you become more Self-aware you will be able to manage this impulse in healthier ways and remember the golden rule:

If you are not sure about something as a Coach take it to Supervision.

Here is one possible psychological explanation why you may feel prompted to take on something that perhaps you shouldn’t. I am drawing once again on Transactional Analysis and in particular the Mini-script.

This Case study is a summary of many examples from my Supervision Groups.

The Coach is running a Please People (or Please Others) Driver Mini script. This plays out around being good enough.

I am Okay if I please enough

You are Okay if you please enough

The mini-script will get triggered when you are faced with turning someone away who needs help because they need tools you do not have. For example, this could be people with deeper therapy issues or trauma.

Remember these triggers happen out of awareness unless you have found a way to monitor your unconscious responses. I am going to repeat myself,

if in doubt take it to supervision.


If the response or trigger is unconscious you may start to feel “not good enough” if you turn the client away. This may lead to you taking on something you may not be equipped to deal with.

There may be internal scripting about self-blame for turning the client away or self-blame if the Coaching is not going well. The self-blame may at some point switch to blaming someone else, maybe other coaches/therapists who didn’t help or even the client.

Finally there may be a sense of despair and helplessness.

This script may cycle round constantly while working with the client.


If in doubt take it to supervision.

Self-awareness is key to stepping out of such destructive cycles. Learning about your own triggers and processes makes it easier for you to spot when an unconscious unhealthy script is running. Recognition allows you to make different choices and seek support for yourself if necessary.

Eventually the script will lose its potency and a new healthier script can replace it.

So, to summarise, if you feel drawn to help someone when another part of you knows you do not have the appropriate tools and/or experience for the presenting problem take a step back.

Ask yourself some questions:

  • Am I the right person to help this client?
  • If not, do I have someone in my network who could be able to help? (I will write about how to refer professionally in another blog soon).
  • If I don’t have anyone to refer on to what other resources can I point the client to? (start collecting contact details of specialist organisations who could help).
  • Reflect on your own reactions and triggers. If you are feeling reactive or confused take it to supervision.
  • If in doubt take it to supervision.

If you are a Coach and do not have a Supervisor do consider finding one. Being in Supervision is the mark of a professional and ethical Coach. Even experienced Coaches with many years of experience will have a Supervisor. In your early career you will access Supervision regularly. As you get more experienced you may reduce the frequency however you will still make sure you have this important resource as a back up.

If you do not have a Supervisor I am happy to talk to you about options so do reach out.

Melody Cheal MSc MAPP
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