“A friend who knows I’m training to be a Relationship Coach referred a couple to me. Should I consider working with them before I start my training for coaching couples?”
I wouldn’t, but if there are no red flags (consult with your mentor before accepting them) and you really WANT to work with this couple before your couples relationship coach training, you have three choices as I see it-
Option 1. Disclose that you have no training for helping couples but commit to accessing and studying all RCI resources for coaching couples, including getting help from your mentors along the way. If they are fine working with a trainee and there are no red flags We are fine supporting you to coach them as long as you put in the time and effort to prepare for doing so and get our support along the way. Great way to learn if it is also good for the client!
Option 2. Request that they hold off until you’ve completed your relationship coach training for coaching couples (or you can coach them while in your training). If they’ve been together for some years and don’t appear to be at imminent risk of blowing up, committing to getting your help next year might be a good choice for them and just the decision to get help starts the change process.
Option 3. Refer them to an experienced relationship coach that you trust.
Before accepting them as clients we would want you to have a signed Coaching Agreement fully disclosing that you are in training, do an Intake using our Couples Intake Questionnaire, go through our self study program for coaching couples, learn how to assess for coachability (and spot red flags), decide how to leverage RCI resources (exercises, programs, coaching tools, etc) and develop an initial plan for helping them in collaboration with your RCI mentor coach, which should provide you some confidence and comfort that you know what to do. Kind of like having “training wheels” on a bike so you don’t fall over.
From experience I can share with you two of the many possible scenarios that are good for newbies to be aware of when accepting a couple as a client-
Scenario A- Your couple is not telling you the whole truth and what they’re holding back sabotages your ability to help them. This is more common than I would like, so upon Intake and during the coaching relationship we can NEVER assume that what we see and what they tell us is everything. For example, one or both have had past affairs, or are even currently having an affair, and have agreed not to talk about that in coaching/therapy.
Scenario B- Your couple starts coaching with you and after a few sessions and having a few new tools for communication and addressing their challenges they amaze you with their progress. This is also pretty common and can be very real with a motivated couple (wonderful when that happens) or can be just for show (cynical, I know, but it happens) to assuage their discomfort or prevent going into areas they don’t want to go (AKA “flight to health”).
These are just two of many possible scenarios. I highlight these two because they are common but not common knowledge amongst coaches and therapists, even those who specialize helping couples.