Interview w/ Michelle

Please take a moment to read this before hiring Michelle.

How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to be a Relationship Coach?

I have a long history working as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas (17 years). In 2001, after 8 years working with the Family Violence Prevention Services, I set up my private practice specializing in helping couples with their relationships.

In 2007 my professional life and my personal life collided. My husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer. In just 4 short months, after the removal of the kidney with a softball sized tumor, the cancer metastasized and my husband died. As a newly grieving widow, it was hard for me to continue to work with couples, though I continued to see a few clients during this period.

In March 2008 I entered a coaching program with the Relationship Coaching Institute. It was at this point that I decided to focus on working with single women over 35. I took all of the classes for both singles and couples coaching and I can work with either singles or couples. I felt that it was a good time to transition from couples work to working with singles.

In April 2010 I decided that I would love to help widows and widowers who are transitioning from their grief stage into wondering whether they can find love again after loss. After losing my husband I know I would have benefitted from some coaching when getting back into the dating world after losing the love of my life.

I have the life experience and the therapy training to do grief work, but my focus is on helping widows and widowers who have gotten through their grief journey enough to have started thinking that they do not want to continue to be alone. These folks are ready to start dating and they need some guidance.

Who are your clients exactly?

I have a history working with couples whose marriages were in crisis. I have also worked with single women over 35 who want to find their dream man. They may be divorced or may have never married. They may have had a series of failed relationships and wonder why they cannot make it work.

At this point I have a growing specialty in working with widows or widowers who have experienced the profound and personal loss of a spouse. They have done the grief work through therapy or a support group and are now asking the question, “What do I do now?” They miss their spouse terribly and yet they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives alone. They wonder if it is possible to love again. They are confused and lonely, having feelings of guilt and betrayal, and perhaps getting mixed messages from friends and family.

How are you different from a therapist or other “Relationship Coaches?”

I am a therapist, though I do not practice therapy unless you live in Texas and we work together by phone sessions. However, as a long-time therapist, I can tell you that my training in graduate school was very coach-like. There are so many different types of therapy, some of which spend a lot of time talking about your childhood and gaining insight into why you are the way you are as an adult. Each different type of therapy has its merits and limitations. Different styles work for different people at different times.

One of the styles of therapy I was taught in graduate school was called Solution-Focused or Solution Oriented Therapy. What I like about it is that we work on what is going on right now and find solutions together that will work for you. That’s very similar to what a coach does.

My style of coaching is similar to how I did therapy, which as I have said, was more focused on finding solutions that will work right now, rather than delving into your childhood and your relationship with your mother to find out why you do what you do.

Grant it, coaching does touch on these connections and patterns, albeit briefly, for the sake of that “aha moment.” Action is the name of the game with coaching. Once you get your “aha moment” your job is to figure out what you are going to do with your new pieces of information.

As a relationship coach, my main task is to help you specifically with your relationships. Because you always bring yourself into any relationship you have, our work together will begin with you working on your relationship with yourself. I am not a life coach. My focus is on helping you improve your relationships.

If you are single and seeking a life partner, our work together is about getting you ready to date, removing the obstacles you have unknowingly put in your path, and creating a dating plan. Once you have found someone to date that you are interested in, our work becomes helping you to determine if the person is right for you. Just because you have decided you want to create a relationship with someone, our work is not over. My task at this point becomes to help you with the work of creating a sustainable, happy relationship.

What type of personality do you work best with and what is expected of me?

The From Loss to Love Again program, workshops, and products were created for people who are serious about finding and keeping the one for them. Our work together is an “action learning course.” You will be expected to take serious and consistent action. No excuses anymore, just a very different way of thinking and full support while you achieve this incredibly exciting goal: getting a crystal clear vision of your life and your purpose, truly knowing and understanding yourself in new and exciting ways, and opening yourself to receiving love into your life so that you can create a happy, successful relationship with the one for you.

My clients:

  • Understand that creating new changes doesn’t have to take years, but that these new habits don’t come instantly either
  • Are highly motivated people
  • Are willing to invest their time and energy in getting the results they seek
  • Show up on time for our sessions with their assignments done
  • Are open to learning new ideas that will help them achieve the goals we set together
  • Are invested in taking the time required to make sure their new, more helpful behaviors become a part of who they are

You may not be ready for this kind of commitment. That is perfectly all right. Sign up for one or more of my free reports at http://trueloverelationshipcoaching.com. The free information will get you started towards your goals until you’re ready to work with me one-on-one.

I have weekly free webinars (Ask Michelle Anything) and a monthly webinar (Life after Loss) I co-host.

You can sign up for either or both of them here: http://askmichelleanything or http://losstoloveagain.com. Take some time to listen in or get the recordings to listen at your leisure. These webinars are full of great content to get you started and they will give you a lot of things to think about.

Doing these two things will really help you prepare to do the coaching work. When you’re ready, call me and we’ll get you started. (there is no hurry; I will be here when you need me.)

Who is your ideal client?

I work only with people who are highly motivated and committed to improve themselves and their relationships. If you are committed to showing up on time, every time for our scheduled appointments, with your assignments complete and ready to discuss, you are a good candidate for any of my programs. We will discuss which of the programs fit your needs so that you will get the best benefit from whichever one you enter.

If you are eager to learn and open to the possibility that what you will learn will make you uncomfortable, you and I will do well to work together. You will be uncomfortable because coaching takes you out of your comfort zone. You are ready to learn something new and you take a “no excuses” approach with yourself, though you do not beat yourself up about it. I use gentle humor to encourage you to grow at your own pace, so do not be alarmed if you are interested in self-growth, but fear being pushed past your limits.

What kind of person is not going to benefit from your programs?

If you are a new widow or widower, or just got out of a difficult relationship or divorce, you are probably not ready for what I offer yet. You may need to keep in mind that I can help once you are ready to think about finding love again (or to examine how you are repeating relationship patterns). I am not in a hurry and you need to respect your own pace. I’ll be here when you are ready.

It’s important to let you know that I am very choosy when it comes to picking my clients. I handpick who I will work with because I expect a lot of my clients.

I am pretty picky about who I work with. If you are a complainer or someone who says, “yet, but” to everything, you and I are probably not a good fit to work together. Another type of person I will not work with (without exception) is the whiner or the chronic skeptic (which is very different from someone who asks genuine questions for clarification/understanding or to learn something).

Neither do I work with people who consistently make excuses for not getting their assignments done or challenge every aspect of the program. If you are one of these people, I gently and respectfully ask that you not call and I hope you understand why. We will probably just not work well together and I wouldn’t want you to waste your time or money. Does that make sense?

As a coach, my job is to help you move forward and I will help you move past your own fears. If you are scared, as is normal, you are not the person I am describing above. Fear is very different from skepticism and complaining. Your willingness to be open to those fears and to keep learning and growing is what will make you a good candidate for the type of programs I offer.

How is coaching different from therapy/counseling?

People often ask me this and they should. As a client, your coach sees you as a normal, healthy person who requests assistance in setting and achieving relationship goals. Together with your coach you will create your agenda for reaching the goals you want to work on. Your coach’s job is to help you by giving you support, providing you with information, and guiding you by asking powerful questions designed to help you find the solutions that are right for you.

Coaching is a lot more interactive than some types of therapy. In therapy, you may find it is normal for you to do a lot of talking while the therapist sits and actively listens to you. In coaching you will be having more of a dialogue. Sometimes the coach teaches, sometimes the coach asks questions to get you thinking toward your goal. You do not tend to spend as much time telling your story as you would in therapy/counseling.

When I was living in Texas and providing therapy as a Licensed Professional Counselor, my style was very coach-like. What I’m about to tell you is more of a medical model, but does not reflect my own training and is not how I did therapy with my clients. Bearing that in mind, these are some of the differences you may find:

Therapy Coaching
Client needs healing Client needs guidance
Medical model and psychiatry based Based on personal growth
Goal: achieve self-understanding and emotional healing Goal: help people function at a higher level
Deals a lot with feelings and the past Action-based and future-focused
Explores the root of problems Focuses on solving problems
Works to bring the unconscious into consciousness Works with the conscious mind
Works for internal resolution of pain and to let go of old patterns Works for external solutions to overcome barriers, learn new skills and implement effective choices

Adapted from Hayden and Whitworth, 1995

Therapy also involves a mental illness diagnosis, especially if you use your health insurance to pay for the services. Coaching is not about diagnosing you, since coaching is based in wellness and growth. It is also not something your health insurance will cover.

Can you say some more about relationship coaching?

You hire a personal trainer, who is a one on one coach, when you want to get your body into shape and you need help with motivation, focus, and achieving your health and fitness goals. You hire a golf coach to teach you how to improve your golf game. Both types of coaches keep you accountable for your actions. Sometimes what you do will be uncomfortable, even painful at times, but you consider that the coaching is worth it because you see the positive results.

Similarly, Relationship Coaching is an incredibly powerful method for you to gain clarity as you and your coach set result-oriented goals with realistic timetables. You can benefit from relationship coaching, whether you are single and seeking the one for you or if you are part of a couple and would like to improve your relationship with your partner.

One of the best predictors of a successful outcome with relationship coaching is your willingness to be open and to learn. A coach should not simply shove her or his opinions down your throat. The job of your relationship coach is to offer powerful questions to get you thinking in new and different ways. Keep in mind that if you tend to respond to people frequently with “yes, but” you may not be ready for relationship coaching.

Taking personal responsibility for your success is another indicator of readiness for relationship coaching. You may have no idea how to do this, and that is all right. Willingness is the key. If, on the other hand, you are stuck in the victim role and continue to blame others, you are not ready for relationship coaching.

If you feel stuck and frustrated, wondering what you need to know that you do not know, relationship coaching can help. Your coach is trained to listen actively to what you say and what lies underneath what you are saying to help you discover things you may not have thought of before. If you are willing to experience the discomfort (and joy) that may come from this process, you can make some progress.

If you are interested in self-improvement and frustrated with your current situation, you may be a good candidate for coaching. A coach is a professional who provides a service for clients in a variety of settings. It can be one on one for individuals or couples or it can be done in a group setting.

Tell me a bit about how you got started and what your focus is.

I received my Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, Texas, in 1993. I have worked as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas since 1997. In 2001 I left the Family Violence Prevention Services, where I worked for eight years, to begin my private practice working with couples.

In 2006, I began the transition from Marriage Counselor to Relationship Coach. In 2008, I joined the Relationship Coaching Institute. Most of my training and practice as a therapist has been very similar to what I learned in the coaching training.

I focus mainly on the present, using Solution Oriented modalities to help my clients solve their immediate challenges. I teach Choice Theory, created by William Glasser, MD. I believe that everyone has the ability to solve his/her own problems. My job is to ask the powerful questions that allow you to think in new and creative ways, and come up with your own solutions to the challenges you face.

Tell me about your personal history and how you decided to specialize in helping widows and widowers find love again after loss.

When I was 27 I divorced a good man for all the wrong reasons: mostly because I was young, dumb, had no faith in my relationship, and had no real relationship skills to speak of. Having made my choice, I began the process of seeking a man that would be right for me. I thought I was ready for a relationship, so I dove right into the dating scene.

Back in 1994, the San Antonio Current had listings in its weekly publication for dating. This was way before Internet dating made its debut. I posted my ad saying that I was looking for a man who liked to dance. I had just discovered ballroom dancing and was eager to connect with someone who shared this passion.

One of the things I was determined to do was to understand what I wanted in a man. I read Barbara de Angelis’s book Are You the One for Me? and created my compatibility list, which is a great exercise in her book. I still recommend the book as the information is very helpful for people who want to get out and date again.

I struggled through several inappropriate relationships over the next few years, trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole because I did not want to be alone. Even though I kept reading and learning, I was still making poor choices with the men I would date. I was taking dance classes, which I loved, and there were men I was interested in, but they never were the right ones.

It wasn’t until I found and read The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider and Getting to “I Do” by Dr. Patricia Allen that I began to realize what I must do differently to change my behavior to attract the kind of man I would want to marry. Some women don’t like The Rules. That’s all right. The book is about maintaining boundaries with men. Boy, did I need that!

Once I was able to set some personal boundaries, albeit imperfectly, I began to make better choices. More importantly, once I understood that I must change my behavior, I began to transform how I thought about dating. I slowly began to realize that it’s not about finding the right man. It’s about understanding my requirements and seeking someone who has the same requirements for a successful relationship.

The man I eventually married was a ballroom dancer. I met him in one of my dance classes. He was a Stephen Covey disciple. One of the first gifts he gave me was a laminated copy of a summary of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that I could carry in my purse. That may not seem romantic to you, but what was important to me was that this man believed in lifelong self-growth. That and his dancing skills were two of the many things that attracted me to him instantly.

So after 4 years of searching and making bad dating decisions, I had met a man who met my requirements for a successful relationship. Of course I married him. We had our ups and downs as all couples do, but for the most part, we got along very well and we were truly in love. Then in 2003 we attended a workshop with William Glasser, MD. In this workshop Dr. Glasser talked about his book, Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health. That day was life transforming for me as I learned about Choice Theory and how trying to control your loved ones will destroy your relationships.

I realized how very controlling I had been with my husband and I started to apply the principles of Choice Theory in my marriage. I began to tell people that Choice Theory saved my marriage. My husband, ever the gracious man that he was, denied that there was a problem with my behavior, but as I let go of my controlling behavior, I saw that he was able to relax more around me.

Sadly, my husband died in 2007 of kidney cancer that spread so rapidly that he wasn’t even able to begin treatment. I am happy for the years that we did spend together. I really enjoyed being married and being with him. I wish I had known about self-improvement and creating happy, successful relationships earlier in my life. I believe that we are on a journey to become the best people we can be. So I keep learning and growing even today.

If you’re wondering where the story ends, I did eventually pick myself and my life up and remarry. I actually met and married a man I met online. But that’s another story for another day. Thankfully, I had the skills I learned and continue to learn to create yet another successful relationship!

I would love to teach these skills to you. If you’ve had a series of unsuccessful relationships, I can help you get it right this time by teaching you what you need to know to find, attract, and keep the one for you.

Michelle, I have heard great things about you and I know you’re the one I want to work with and learn from. What are my options for getting started with you?

First of all, let me congratulate you on your decision to improve your life and relationship skills. If you are in a good relationship you want to make even better, that is wonderful. If you are a widow or widower who wants to get ready to find love again, I am so excited for you. If you have lost a relationship through divorce, breakup, or death and you want to figure out how to create the next part of your life, either alone or with someone new, I am honored that you have chosen to work with me.

Tell me about the different programs you offer.

I help people improve their relationships, whether they are single, married, divorced, or widowed. I have a growing specialty in helping widows and widowers learn to love themselves and love their lives again after experiencing the profound life-changes that losing their spouse brings to them.

If you let it, coaching can stretch you and challenge you to improve yourself.

I have three programs to fit your needs, including

  • From Loss to Love Again
  • Conscious Dating
  • True Love Relationship Coaching

For Widows and Widowers (Divorced, Break ups included):

You have been married for a long time, or maybe you were only married a short while when your spouse died. Maybe you were engaged to be married and you lost the love of your life. Maybe you were never married but you lived together as a couple or you were boy/girlfriends. Whatever your situation, you lost someone dear to you.

  • Do you wonder whether your life will ever be normal again?
  • Do you have no idea how to navigate the waters of widowhood?
  • Do you feel so lonely that you don’t know what to do?
  • Do you feel guilty wanting to find someone new to love?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of dating again?

From Loss to Love Again is a 12 week intensive program that helps you learn to love yourself and your life again after loss so that you can be open to finding love again if that is your goal. The program takes you gently through the steps of honoring yourself and your life changes as you can see below:

  • Honor your loss
  • Honor your timetable
  • Honor your memories
  • Honor who you are now
  • Honor your need for companionship
  • Honor your relationship requirements
  • Honor your capacity to love again

This program works if you are widowed, divorced, dealing with the aftermath of a painful breakup, or you have been single and cannot figure out why you keep repeating the same patterns.

NOTE: I have been asked whether this program is suitable for someone who has lost a child or a parent or someone else close. If you feel that this program speaks to you, by all means, you are welcome to participate in it. In our complimentary Get Acquainted session we can discuss whether this program is the right one for you.

If you have no desire to find a new love after loss, that is perfectly fine. This program is designed to help you grow toward finding love again, meaning loving yourself, loving your life, loving others, in whatever way that concept speaks to you.

Conscious Dating is a 12 week intensive program for singles that takes you through exploring and understanding your life vision, plan, and purpose. We explore your unhealthy, possibly unconscious beliefs about yourself and about relationships so that you can create better beliefs. We take a hard look at your relationship patterns so you are aware of what you are repeating, both negative and positive, in your relationships.

I coach you to understand your requirements, needs, and wants for a healthy, successful relationship. Together we create your relationship plan and help you understand how to create attraction and how to find and get what you want in a relationship while learning to say “no” to what you do not want.

I have also taught this program for groups and as two day workshops, though you will get more benefit doing this one on one, as we have to cut corners for a shorter program.

True Love Relationship Coaching is also a 12 week intensive program, though for some people this may be extended, based on their goals and needs. This program is for both singles and couples. Here are some of the things we focus on in this program:

For Singles:

If you have not dated in a long time, you may be overwhelmed with the changes that have happened since you last dated.

  • Are you skeptical about online dating?
  • Does texting as a way of communicating about a date baffle you?
  • Do you wonder if everyone has lost their minds and their manners?
  • Are you worried about whether you are too old (out of shape, out of touch, wrinkled, old-fashioned, unattractive, etc.) to find someone to share the rest of your life with?

True Love Relationship Coaching helps you to learn how to:

  • Understand so much about how to date successfully that it becomes easy as pie
  • Really comprehend what has been holding you back from finding an appropriate match
  • Take your time and choose carefully, balancing your hormones (chemistry) with solid logic
  • Trust yourself when it comes to dating because you are learning new skills and becoming aware of stuff that was hidden from your conscious understanding for so long
  • Recognize those red flags instantly and know when (and how) to walk away
  • Change your negative dating patterns for good
  • Learn to attract the one for you
  • Understand how to “be yourself” by becoming the best “you” you can be

For couples:

  • Are you worried that the constant arguing is tearing you apart?
  • Do you wonder if marriage is all it’s cracked up to be?
  • Do you wish you could just come home to a peaceful place, like you remember when you were first in love?

True Love Relationship Coaching helps you to learn how to:

  • Rekindle the love you thought was lost
  • Acquire and practice new skills that help you diffuse arguments easily
  • Add new tools to your relationship skill toolbox so you can understand each other quickly and avoid those circular arguments that may be plaguing your relationship
  • Get your needs met through open and gentle conversation, speaking from your heart
  • Speak your truth without fearing an ugly argument or silent treatment
  • Talk to each other on a deeper level without guardedness and defensiveness
  • Spend more time loving each other

These three programs,

  • From Loss to Love Again
  • Conscious Dating and
  • True Love Relationship Coaching

follow a natural progression. If you have lost someone dear to you or ended a relationship that you grieve, even if you initiated the end, From Loss to Love Again helps you get yourself back on your feet by taking you through the process of honoring yourself, your loss, and getting you back to where you love yourself and your life. When you are able to do this, you can prepare yourself for the next steps in your life, whatever those steps may be.

If you want to date again, you will have prepared yourself by working through the grief journey and understanding the changes you have been through.

That’s when you may want to progress to the Conscious Dating program. This program goes into detail with you to help you make great dating choices and screen out those people who are not right for you quickly and efficiently. It helps you with your attraction skills so that you are prepared to allow yourself to date successfully.

Once you have found someone you are interested in getting to know better, you will want to know if the two of you are a good fit. The True Love Relationship Coaching helps you, both as a single and as a pre-committed couple, to clarify your relationship goals and to ask yourself and your potential mate the hard questions to allow you to determine if you should proceed into the next step of a committed relationship.

Once you determine that your potential mate is someone you want to create a life partnership with, True Love Relationship Coaching takes you through the process of ironing out the differences and helping you to co-create a happy, successful life together.

True Love Relationship Coaching works for these phases in a couple’s life together:

  • Pre-commitment
  • Pre-marital
  • Marriage/committed relationship
  • Conflict resolution
  • Increased intimacy and deepening the relationship
  • Recreating the passion and closeness that you used to have together

Facilidating: Dating Made Easy for Men

This is a home-study program that is 26 weeks long and delivered to your email inbox once a week. It takes you step by step through getting ready to date to finding the one for you. To learn more about this program, go to http://facilidating.com.

VIP Session

This is a stand alone session of two hours that allows you to focus in great depth on one particular relationship coaching goal. It allows you to get some clarity around one particular relationship issue that you are dealing with and quickly get a resolution and a plan around that particular goal. If you start with this VIP session and decide you want to continue in one of the longer programs, your payment will be adjusted toward whichever program you enter.

How quickly can I expect results?

Your results are based on your ability to follow through on the assignments I give you during our sessions together. A highly motivated client will notice positive changes rather quickly. If you are not committed to your own self-improvement, you are not going to get the results you expect. It’s like joining a gym to get in shape. If you show up and do the consistent work it takes to reshape your body, you will see results. If you pay your gym membership and stay at home, you will not make any changes.

The same thing applies to relationship coaching. You get what you put into it. I am a guide; I don’t live your life so I cannot fix things for you, nor would you want me to. My job is to help you, provide information, and ask you those thought-provoking questions to lead you to find your own answers, the ones that work for you. Your job is to follow through on what you agree to do so that you can get the results you are looking for.

Do you have a guarantee?

I offer an unconditional happiness guarantee: If after the first 30 days of working with me, you don’t absolutely love the work we’re doing and if you don’t feel it’s exactly what you need to overcome the challenges and achieve the results you’re looking for, then not only do you not need to continue after the first month, you can have your money back. Of course, this guarantee is only good for the first 30 days and if you continue after that time, there is no extended guarantee.

The Facilidating program has an 8 week guarantee.

The best guarantee of success is your active participation. Do all of your assignments. Make this a priority for yourself and your personal growth. There are no quick fixes for the kind of work I do with my clients, though you can make some pretty amazing advances when you are committed to the work we do together.

A cautionary note: I am not saying that you would do this, but studies have shown that often when people ask about guarantees they are already planning to ask for a refund. If this is the case, you are better off not hiring me. Instead, attend my free webinars and read my blog. You will not get all the information and support you need to make the powerful shifts in yourself and in your relationships, but you can still learn some valuable information, as my webinars and articles are full of helpful information you can use immediately.

If I’m not sure I’m ready to get started, how can I sample your work at low cost to see if it’s the right solutions for me?

  • A great way to sample my work is to subscribe to my blogs at http://fromlosstoloveagain.com and http://trueloverelationshipcoaching.com.
  • I also have a variety of free reports on different relationship topics. You can find two of them at http://trueloverelationshipcoaching.com.
  • You can also sign up for my Ask Michelle Anything webinar at http://askmichelleanything.com.
  • Once a month I host a webinar, Life after Loss. Sign up to participate in these calls at http://losstoloveagain.com.

OK, I’m ready to do this for myself, but I have a couple of additional questions. Can I call you?

Good, looks like you’re ready to do some relationship enhancing and life changing work! Yes, if you have a couple of questions just email me at michelle (at) trueloverelationshipcoaching.com or michelle (at) fromlosstoloveagain.com or call me directly at 1-714-717-5744. I would be delighted to set up a complimentary Get Acquainted session with you to walk you through the different options to see which one will be the very best for you. I can’t wait to see you succeed in your relationship goals and am honored to be the one to help you. Let’s get going!

Your assignment before we talk:

Before we talk I have some questions I would like for you to answer. This will greatly improve our focus during our Get Acquainted session. After you have answered these questions, please send them to me via email.

  1. What is your current situation that you are seeking relationship coaching for?
  2. What is not going well?
  3. What have you been doing to help your situation or make it better?
  4. What will happen if you do not change your situation?
  5. Make a list of every one of your goals that you would like to accomplish through working with me.
  6. How would working with me and achieving these goals make a difference in your life?

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Learn the Seven Deadly Habits that destroy relationships AND Find out what you can do instead

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