Tracy, a mother of three in Colorado had a problem with her youngest, “she was hitting and tantruming pretty often. We tried everything, time outs, threats, time ins, talking it out, and it just got worse.”
She read loads of parenting books, but they all had conflicting advice. She searched the internet, but wasn’t sure what to believe. She avoided going to friends and family for advice because “my my life is complicated enough already, I don’t need them involved.”
She thought about seeing a child psychologist but “I didn’t want her labeled with something and I wasn’t even sure it was a big problem. All kids tantrum, it was just a little more than usual.”
So Tracy turned to an option that many parents are trying, online coaching.
She booked an hour long session with a child psychologist through a website, and met by skype the next morning. “The kids were still in bed. I was having my coffee at the kitchen table. I learned more in half an hour talking it over with a specialist than with all the books I bought. By the end of the hour I had a plan and knew exactly what to do.”
And it worked. Tracy checked in with the coach twice more. Her youngest stopped tantruming and the aggression disappeared.
“I can’t believe I didn’t try it before” she explains “I spent more on her school supplies last year, and it changed everything.”
Online coaching is a new phenomenon, and most people are familiar with the ubiquitous “life coaches” advertising in magazines and offering to help people actualize their potential. So it’s hard not to think of coaching as a frivolous expense, a privilege for executives with more money than time.
But there is a growing pool of online coaches specializing in the kinds of problems we all face, with real expertise, and the credentials to match. Psychologists, masters-level family therapists, couples counselors, and child development experts are beginning to offer their services in the growing online market of people who would like top-notch advice, without making an office visit.
Online coaching increases parents options, but there are downsides. For one thing, insurance doesn’t cover it, so most people have to pay out of pocket. Fees can vary wildly, anywhere from $50 to $150 an hour depending on how much the coach is in demand. However, because family coaching is usually a short-term proposition, the expense is usually manageable. Many coaches also offer steep discounts to those who schedule several sessions at a time, and some offer fees on a sliding scale for families struggling financially. Others offer discounted rates for military families.
Another potential downside is that because it is so new, the coaching industry is unregulated. Virtually anyone can create a website and set up an online business as a coach. For this reason it is important to check into the credentials and experience of those offering services. Are they a specialist in this area? Have they published research or books on the topic you need advice on?
Despite the potential downsides many are finding the benefits to be tremendous. If you have a need for advice and would like to get a professional to help, but aren’t sure about involving insurance or making clinic visits, coaching might be right for you.