Relationship coaches like Ana Loiselle of New Mexico Relationship Center help to create awareness on the role of communication. While therapy offers help for those struggling with their past, coaching teaches new skills for those who admit they need a change and are willing to dig in to make it happen.
“I want clients who recognize that their marriage or relationship choices aren’t going well and want to make changes. Those are the types of clients that work well with coaches,” Ana said. She has been running her own relationship coaching business since 2010 and notices some similarities between the clients best suited for coaching and those who’d see more success in therapy.
“There really are 3 types of people who are unsuccessful in a coaching relationship. First, the people who just have a hard time grasping concepts of the new strategies we’re trying to promote internal change. Second are the people who don’t accept responsibility but operate more from a place of blame, always saying it’s the other guy. And third are those who suffer from some form of mental illness as a coach really just isn’t qualified for that type of therapy.”
After two marriages ended in divorce, Ana said to herself, “Here I am, a smart, successful woman already with a couple marriages behind me. I thought, ‘I got to figure this thing out.’” And so she went about it by getting licensed by the Relationship Coaching Institute. Now, more than three years into the practice, she’s been able to guide couples and singles through better communication strategies for improved relationships across the board. Below she shares some of her insights.
On Couples Coaching:
“With everyone I coach, the first thing I have them do is some self-reflection on their own communication. What I want them to have out of coaching is a behavioral change and typically there is something about their communication that is unproductive and drives others away,” Ana told me.
Most couples come to her because some kind of conflict has arisen in their relationship. This may seem obvious, but is nicely juxtaposed to the reason couples get involved in a relationship to begin with.
The two people involved in the dating relationship form together, she said. “Imagine you really like tinseling a tree and the person you’re dating does too. You both see this as a positive and it helps to form your relationship. It’s only after you’ve been together for a while that you learn that your partner likes to throw the tinsel on the tree whereas you like to place it strand by strand. Suddenly, something that helped to form your relationship has a crack in it and therein breeds the conflict.
“Now, obviously the issue is usually bigger than tinsel, but in this example, you try to get your partner to conform to placing it on the tree. At the end of the day, however, we are autonomous beings and want to do things the way we’re used to.”
There are two ways that we typically get people to conform to our methods of thinking or doing things: either to submit or to rebel. In trying to get people to submit, Ana says, “Since we’re making a demand we’re typically using a fear based tactic presenting consequences if what we want isn’t met.” In rebelling, we tend to withhold ourselves from the others demands which creates separation that stresses the relationship.
For most of the married couples that seek Ana out, it is typically the husband who schedules the appointment. “Because coaching is very active, it’s much more appealing to guys. I get a ton of men who are simply trying to find out what’s wrong and get down to the business of fixing it.”
On Singles Coaching:
“Coaching singles is really cool,” Ana says. “The singles that come to me are really being pioneers in their lives. They’re taking control and humbly saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but I want to learn and start getting it right.’”
As with couples coaching, singles coaching starts out with a look at the individual’s communication techniques. “Working with singles who are between relationships helps them realize that there is something that they can be doing now so when the next relationship comes along they don’t experience the same road bumps.”
Many of the singles Ana works with were married and in many cases are dating others that have been married. “In those situations, I really aim to have them listen to what the other person is saying. If they hear a lot of blame, then it’s run sister run. It shows that he or she hasn’t taken responsibility of being a common denominator.
“By looking closely at what the other person’s communicating, singles I work start recognizing red flags in dating. And I think this kind of reflection is paramount in between relationships. If you’ve not sought to improve yourself between relationships, then what will have changed when you start the next one?”
It’s more than a reasonable question and in many ways is what started Ana down the path after her second marriage ended. “For me, it has been about learning negotiation and that we’re autonomous beings who need space. We want freedom to be individuals and I have had to learn that in my own relationships and in how I communicate with others.”
Learning What a Relationship Is:
“Relationships 101” should be a required course before graduating high school. NYT Columnist David Brooks writes about this a lot but there’s no simple checklist for a good relationship. So what is it that makes a relationship successful?
First, Ana says, “It’s not reasonable to think we are just innately capable of relationships if we’re not trained in it. I grew up in a fighting household and thus thought it was pretty normal to argue.” This is the case for a lot of people, especially children of divorced parents.
There are some very basic aspects of relationships that, if learned, will put them on the path to success. “The more couples understand the importance of autonomy, of letting the other person be themselves, the more successful the relationship will be. If you let people go away and be who they are, the more they’re going to stay because they won’t feel suffocated or forced to conform.
“But being able to let people do this requires you to really know yourself. You need to know when your fear is triggered which will in turn make you want someone to conform. And once you know when your fear is triggered, a coaching relationship can really help you understand how to calm it.” Ultimately, she says, a successful coach helps you grow in yourself.
Online Booking for Relationship Coaching:
Being a single practitioner, Ana doesn’t have a receptionist who can answer the phone, reschedule missed appointments, or send out email confirmations and reminders.
“Before coaching, I was in the salon industry and I remember it taking 10 minutes anytime someone called to compare calendars and get something that suited both of us. Online booking with you guys makes in convenient not only for my clients but for me too!”
checkAppointments saves her time by taking care of some of the admin work that helps reduce no shows. “It really makes my life easier, plus you are constantly upgrading the product so the tech improves which is a real bonus.”
Ana Loiselle has been a checkAppointments user since July 2010.