Starting Out Right With Your Clients: The power of the intake session

by Sue
Brundege, IAC-CC

The co-creative process is the centerpiece
of coaching. It means that both you and your client enter into a unique
relationship that is characterized by open communication, complete commitment,
courageous honesty and thoughtful risk. Each of you agrees to enter into the
relationship fully, authentically and consciously, working together in harmony
for your client's benefit.

The Intake Session

Since this kind of relationship may be
completely new to your client, it's best to devote time in the beginning to
ground them in the co-creative process. This is done in the intake session – a
one-time, longer session that sets the stage for a successful coaching
relationship. During this special time, you will:

  • Build rapport with your new client
  • Educate them on your respective roles in
    the co-creative process
  • Discover your client's background,
    motivation and readiness to be coached
  • Learn about your client's expectations of
    you and the coaching program
  • Clearly communicate boundaries and
    guidelines governing the coaching process
  • Help your client outline measurable goals,
    tangible outcomes and benchmarks for success within the coaching program
  • Provide relevant information about you,
    your experience or your style that will help your client get more out of
  • Understand how they want to be coached,
    and any potential obstacles or barriers to the coaching process

How you approach these topics and in what
detail will vary from client to client. Some may be well-versed in the coaching
process so you don't need to take as much time on the coach/client roles and
expectations. Others are new to the whole thing so you'll make sure they fully
understand what it means to be a client and coach in the co-creative

The intake session is quite different from
your regular coaching sessions in that, for the most part, you will drive the
structure and direction of the session, as opposed to allowing your client set
their own agenda. You will do this co-creatively, guiding them in a way that
continually demonstrates your respect for their wisdom, courage and

Use Your Welcome Packet as Your

Use your Welcome Packet documents as the
foundation for your intake session. Each coach's Welcome Packet will look
different depending on their education, niche and personal style, but for the
purposes of the intake session, all Welcome Packets should have some version of
the following documents. Use each document as an anchor to learn more about your
client, educate them about the process, and create synergy and agreement on how
you will proceed.

Client Profile. This is
a great place to begin establishing rapport with your client. Ask about where
they live, the significant people in their life, their interests and hobbies and
any other interesting details that arise from their profile. Touching on these
topics is a safe way to discover commonalities with your client and start
building trust and friendship.

Coaching Terms and
. Briefly review the coaching terms and agreement and answer
any questions or concerns they may have. This is where you educate your client
about roles, expectations, confidentiality and boundaries around the co-creative
coaching relationship. Stress the value of this relationship and your commitment
to honor these terms; get their commitment as well.

. Use this information to help your
client uncover qualities, strengths, successes, support systems and potential
obstacles that will impact their coaching program. Use your intuition to note
any coachable moments that arise; check in with your client to see if they would
like to explore any of these further in this session, or if they would like to
save them for future coaching agendas.

Goals Worksheet. Have
your client complete as much of their goals worksheet as they can before your
intake session. Go over these goals with them to discover:

  • The clarity in their vision
  • Their highest priorities
  • How realistic their goals are
  • Where they feel confident
  • Where they need reinforcement
  • How you can best support them in reaching
    these goals

Stay Flexible and

During the intake session, pay close
attention to your client's state and respond to what they might need at that
particular moment. Depending on how much detail your client includes in their
Welcome Packet documents, you may spend some time talking about their responses,
and perhaps do some coaching around certain areas that seem

By the end of the session make sure that
you are both very clear on:

  • What they want to come away with from
    coaching with you
  • The roles and responsibilities of
    co-creative relationship
  • How they'll know when they're getting
    value out of the process
  • Their commitment to take full
    responsibility for their goals, their actions, and their results, with your
    support and guidance

Doing this important work up front will
result in a rewarding, productive, and enjoyable coaching relationship for both
of you!

Sue Brundege, IAC-CC, is a CTA-
and IAC-certified coach, communication consultant and trainer, writer, and
public speaker. Through her business, Self Made Self LLC, she helps service-based professionals gain
confidence in public speaking, writing, and networking to attract ideal clients
and grow their business.
Sue also serves on the Board of Governors for the International Association of


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