Coaching Principles, Scope, and Process

HAPPY WHOLE HUMAN® Coaching:  Six Step Strategy

Many people have a sense that something is wrong in their own lives, or in their families or companies. They know that they need help either figuring out what it is and making a needed change, or resolving disputes and moving forward. Our philosophy is that most people have a better sense of what they need than anyone else possibly could. With this in mind, we empower clients to increasingly trust themselves, know themselves, and follow their instincts as they realize their desired outcomes.

The HAPPY WHOLE HUMAN® holistic approach to wellness supports clients in: 1. assessing strength and growth areas, 2. envisioning, 3. empowering themselves via Do-It-Yourself tools, 4. working through barriers, 5. designing a plan of action, and 6. reevaluating progress along the way to readjust as necessary.

1. Assessing strength and growth areas
As a first step, we ask clients to take the confidential 15 minute online HWH Holistic Wellness Self-assessment and get a personalized results report with next step suggestions on how to improve their lives and relationships across 28 dimensions of health. When a group of people take the test, we can provide their leadership with valuable insights in the form of quantitative aggregate reports and customizable dashboards. In our coaching intake session, we go over the results report and focus on clients’ strengths and what is working well and what areas could use some work. Often, people are so concerned about what is wrong that the functional strengths are taken for granted. HAPPY WHOLE HUMAN® coaches help clients to highlight their essential strengths and use them to make needed changes.

2. Envisioning
After assessing strengths, values, and goals, analyzing the changing context, and identifying any outdated strategies and dynamics, we explain the Happy Whole Human vision and work with clients as they connect to their true selves and commit to improving their lives and relationships. We also work with clients to help them assess their current values and practices, how things in their lives and contexts are changing, identify any gaps between what is and what is desired, and clarify the ways in which old methods and strategies are no longer working.

3.  Empowering themselves via Do-It-Yourself tools
Depending on what the assessment exercises have highlighted, clients may opt to focus on specific areas to target for improvement. The HWH workbook (and resource page of the website) offers exercises and affirmations for each of the 28 dimensions of holistic wellness. Coaches support clients as they seek out and utilize appropriate resources and support as well.

4. Working through barriers
Coaches help clients work through any blockages or barriers that are holding them back from their goals. Sometimes this involves them using coaches as sounding boards to work through issues. Other times coaches might help clients identify and release stuck emotional energy using breath work and meditative 
visualizations. In our work helping to improve relationship dynamics, whether working with married couples, friends, coworkers, or communities, we help individuals identify common interests and find ways to address or put aside differences to allow forward movement towards shared goals. Happy Whole Human coaches teach clients constructive, non-defensive emotion management and communication strategies. We help to raise individual awareness and accountability while helping clients detach from other people’s patterns and projections. We also help clients seek out appropriate resources and support as appropriate.

5. Designing a plan of action
Using all of the information obtained and progress made in the preliminary steps, we help clients to come up with a pragmatic plan of action to ensure that their lifestyle sets them up for success in realizing their goals.

Lifestyle Architecture. For individuals, this can involve a process that Lisa refers to as Lifestyle Architecture (thanks to her friend Mike Michael for coining this term).

System Architecture. For families, companies, and organizations,HAPPY WHOLE HUMAN® coaching conceives of this process as System Architecture in which the operating rules, principles, values, priorities, and goals of all parties and the organizing system itself are considered and used to create a plan of action that is likely to be effective in achieving the shared goals and vision.

6. Evaluating and readjusting
Because circumstances and individuals inevitably change in unexpected ways, our coaches help clients to periodically evaluate their progress and readjust their vision and action plan as necessary. Every three months, clients will be invited to retake the HWH Self-assessment to keep momentum and check in to see if they are sticking to the plan. If not, clients may need to recalibrate and revise their approach and we will be there to support them in the process.


Scope of HWH Coaching

Individual coaching includes:

Motivational help

Identifying and achieving goals

Uncovering and removing blocks

Navigating transitions

Anger management


Career changes

Value assessment

Goals assessment

Assisting with communication and correspondence

Couples coaching aims to:

Minimize conflict, confusion, and pain

Support philosophical shifts of perspective

Alleviate suffering

Improve or at least salvage relationships or provide support for ending relationships

Facilitate the renegotiation of agreements

Reconcile conflicts of interest

Company and organizational coaching aims to:

Understand underlying dynamics

Foster resilience

Build company loyalty

Increase morale

Facilitate the negotiation of agreements

Reconcile of conflicts of interest

Develop cohesive mission statements

Support Human Resource analysis

Develop change strategies

Identify and achieve goals

Find appropriate roles for individuals

Set employees up for success

Navigate transitions

Communicate effectively

Respond to change

Build effective teams

Coordinate and refocus when facing gridlock

The Three Principles of HWH Collaborative Coaching

(adapted with permission from principles for writing center consultations at the UT Undergraduate Writing Center)


1. Coaching sessions are non-evaluative.


2. Clients retain ownership of their process and make all final decisions about what works best for them, their relationships, and their lives.


3. Coaches are sensitive to clients’ emotional investments in the coaching sessions. It can feel very vulnerable to reach out for help and support. Every coaching session is unique. Coaches have to stay flexible and be creative.


Here’s a little elaboration on the basics:

Why should coaching sessions be non-evaluative?

General evaluative language (“You/he/she/that is weak/good/terrible.”) tips the balance of power away from the client and toward the coach. The client often ceases to view the coach as a collaborator and advisor and begins to view them as the final authority on “good living.” Since our goal is to help clients make decisions for themselves, this is not desirable.  A non-evaluative approach also prevents the coach from inadvertently competing for authority by implying that a situation deserves a certain response.

Diagnosis vs. Evaluation:

Evaluation denotes a process of observing people or things and ranking them. Diagnosis involves observation, but it results in suggesting a course of action that leads to improvement rather than pronouncing a judgment that merely assigns status.

Coaches assess clients’ situations and make recommendations and decisions about what process to employ as courses of action that will help clients improve as individuals. HWH coaches do not judge clients, nor are they themselves expected to have all the answers.  The coach should be able to show the client strategies for finding answers.

What does it mean for a client to retain ownership of the session?

Coaches will help clients to move away from a passive position where they wait for their lives to be “directed.” Clients will then take an active position where they can use the coaches’ considerable expertise as a resource for making their own decisions from a place of trusting themselves that is truly their own, rather than an exercise performed for others. Our aim is to help clients become stronger rather than to improve any one situation. The coach may make recommendations for what the goals of the session will be, but the client makes the final decision.  Asking clients to generate strategies, choose among them, and implement them on their own ensures that the resulting decisions are ones they feel they truly made themselves—and that they will be able to tackle the next challenge that comes their way.

Although the coach acts as the expert during a call, the client should always be the one in control. In order to successfully collaborate with a client without giving advice, we work to strengthen and preserve client autonomy and confidence.  Likewise, a client who always stays in control of the work will have an easier time practicing independently the strategies learned during a coaching session. Thus, only the client should generate the ideas/insights and make the decisions.  While we can offer opinions and suggestions about what might work best, ultimately clients must decide how to approach situations in their own lives.

HWH coaches ask questions that prompt the client to assess the challenges they are facing and to determine appropriate ways forward.

What kind of “emotional investments in the empowerment process” can we expect, and what is entailed in being “sensitive”?

Being non-evaluative and helping clients maintain a sense of ownership go a long way toward mediating client responses, but navigating emotions in a one-on-one coaching session can still be tricky. For more reserved clients who spend the bulk of their time in structured environments and situations, intensive one-on-one attention itself sometimes feels strange and intimidating. Often, the only kind of intensive attention they’ve received is negative. Coaches main priority is to ensure emotional safety and gentle acceptance during sessions so that clients can feel comfortable expressing themselves without judgement.

We do not Tell Clients What to Do or How to Do It

Since our goal is to help clients mature, we do not tell them what to do or how to do it. We do, however, discuss what is happening in their lives with them and provide support such as helping them to come to clarity through brainstorming, teaching them tools, and leading them through exercises.  We also provide resources and referrals as appropriate. To discourage overdependence and foster professional uniformity of experience, unless otherwise agreed upon, calls may be fielded by any coach.  We discuss any issues clients bring us: professional, personal and relational.

The Coach-Client Relationship

Coaches are not and should not be authority figures.  Instead, we measure progress in terms of what the client is learning about themselves and feeling better equipped to meet the complex challenges in their lives.

Setting Goals

A coach may make recommendations for what the goals of the session will be, but the client makes the final decision.


HWH coaches ask questions that prompt the client to assess the challenges they are facing and to determine appropriate ways forward.