How to start the first coaching session

New Coaching Client? A Powerful Way to Start the Session

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How to begin with a new coaching client

New coaching clientUnless you’re coaching in a very tight niche, pretty much every new coaching client you see will have different goals and desires. Different problems and issues. Different challenges and difficulties.

Every new coaching client will need to start from a different place. But what doesn’t change is your need to know where that starting place is.

So, in the first session with a new client, I always begin by finding out more about them and their current position in life.

The best way I’ve found to do that, is to use a regular template. So, I developed The Life Satisfaction Survey.

The survey was initially designed to be completed by the new coaching client, at home prior to the first session. In fact, it’s something I often add to the Welcome Pack once the client decides to begin a coaching relationship.

But, the questions from it are just as effective if you ask them face-to-face.

Every question is written in a way that requires the new coaching client to really think about their answer. And when the answer comes, it can be extremely useful for highlighting where they feel they are in the process of life.

It’s also surprising how much the coachee often finds out about themselves, when answering the questions.

That’s enough waffle 🙂 I know you’re itching to know…


What are these questions?

Well, once we’ve gone over the basics ‘rules’ for the relationship, I want to know more about where they are now.

So, I begin by asking them questions about how they feel about themselves. You could even ask these questions and ask for a simple score of out 10.

Things like…

“How satisfied are you with your life generally at the moment?”

“How self confident do you feel right now, that you’ll be able to achieve your goals?”

“How much do you ‘like’ yourself?”

“How much fun are you having in your life?”


Once you’ve got a basic idea of how they view themselves, you can move on to finding out where they are. For example, you could ask…

“What, for you, is the best thing going on in your life at the moment?”  or “What are you enjoying most about your life at the moment?”

Now you know what they’re positive about, it’s time to find out what’s no so good by asking…

“What, in your opinion could be improved in your life at the moment?” or “If you could change anything in your life at the moment, what would that be?” or even “What do you like least about what’s going on in your life right now?”


These 2 sets of questions should be enough to give you a good starting point with any new coaching client.

Thinking during coachingOnce you’ve established these things, I think it’s important to tie down their main purpose(s) for wanting coaching.

Some people will know immediately what they want from the coaching relationship and will tell you straight away. For some though, they might not of thought about the bigger picture. They want to achieve some goal or other and didn’t really give any thought to anything past that.

But, as we know, people don’t really want things. What they want is the feelings that having those things gives them. So, this next section is important.

There will always be times when your new coaching client struggles to perform a task. Or , maybe they don’t complete an action they know they have to complete. If you know what their values are, you can ask questions about what not reaching those values would mean for them.

A simple way to get their values is to ask things like…

“If you had to put a label on why you want to achieve these goals, what would that label be?” 

You could then go on to say something like…

“Let me give you some examples. Would you say it was…

‘to give more meaning or purpose to my life’ or maybe

‘give me more fulfilment or happiness’, or

‘more simplicity and balance’, or

‘to give me more freedom’, or maybe it’s something completely different?”

Now you’ve got this important information, thank them for being open and honest. Then explain that their answers will help you to help them reach their goals, because you now have a better idea of what’s important to them. And that this knowledge helps you find the most effective ways to help.


So hopefully, you’ve now got a few ideas on where to go at the start of your first session with a new coaching client.

The more information you’ve got at the beginning, the easier it’ll be for you later on in the coaching process.

If you’ve got any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.


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