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Taboo, Weird, and Oddball Coaching

This is the beer sampler of blogs this week. You get to have a little of everything.

It's safe to say, most weeks with CLCI Live we stick to one focused topic that can seriously boost your marketing, business, or coaching skills.

Halloween is upon us though and we decided to cut loose and have a little bit more fun. Fair warning, we do talk about some adult and morbid topics but it's all in good humor and more people should address the weirder and more taboo side of "coaching".

How weird you ask? Well on this week's CLCI Live, Lisa Finck (A.C.C.), Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.P.C.), Jerome LeDuff Jr. (M.C.L.C), and Anthony Lopez (M.C.P.C). get dressed for the occasion and talk about a smorgasbord of topics, ranging from:

  • Coaching the Dead or Mourning

  • Cuddle Coaching

  • Sex Coaching

  • NLP coaching

  • and "Genius" Coaching

Honestly, you can make entire episodes dedicated to each topic and we just barely scratch the surface with each. In the course of our discussion we talk about what is and isn't coaching and what straddles the line in-between. Perhaps by the end of this blog you will be inspired to pursue one of these niches.


We're starting out heavy with this one. Death; the great equalizer.

It's a taboo topic in our culture. People generally do not like talking about it, planning for it, or dealing with it after someone dies.

It's a pain point for many. Ah, there's that marketing word. And where there is pain, unease, and difficulty, there is an industry ready to assist or exploit, depending on your viewpoint.

If you are thinking of getting into Death as your niche, you should really and honestly consider how coaching can best serve someone in potentially their darkest moments, and what is best left to therapists.

If it deals with the past, trauma, depression, anxiety, or forms of corrective leave it to counselors and therapists. But if what you are offering is goal oriented, future minded, and a way to move forward, now you are entering life coach territory. There are a lot of practical things to be done if death is imminent or has occured, and it can become overwhelming at times without a proper plan or strategy. End-of-life coaching is surprisingly a strong niche where good work can be done in the time leading to a client's passing.

Keep in mind, emotions can run high, so it is important to be extra vigilant with what is ICF coaching and to be an empathetic and active listener.

The great beyond. Are there afterlife coaches?

Here is where things get strange. Some "coaches" claim that they can facilitate contact with the dead and help clients grow and resolve problems that way.

Without commenting on a person's spiritual & religious beliefs. That is more akin to consulting while using coaching skills, than it is pure ICF-approved coaching.

If you are thinking of looking for someone to facilitate this style of "coaching", tread carefully and be selective with who you work with.

If you are thinking of becoming this kind of coach...tread carefully and define what coaching is and is not.

Cuddle Coaching

Here's a question, would you pay to cuddle with a stranger?

This topic gave us all a good laugh when talking about cuddle coaching and the considerations a practitioner would need to address.

Strange as it is, out of all the topics we discuss, it's on the more legit side of coaching.

What exactly is cuddle coaching?

Cuddle "coaching"/therapy (the terms seems to be interchangeable in this field) is the practice of G-rated hugging or cuddling to facilitate warm emotions, conversation, and fast-tracking connection & trust with a client..

From the research done, there are currently no known ICF-accredited Cuddle Coaching programs (hmmm...CLCI Level 3: Cuddle Coaching Courses?). While being a cuddle practitioner (or Cuddlist) may seem far-fetched as a career choice, let's think about this for a second. Does the activity a coach and client participate in decide what is and isn't coaching?

Let's give you some examples using Certified Life Coaches who are using the ICF coaching model:

  • A fitness coach whose office is the gym. They workout with you while having the coaching session.

  • A business coach who exclusively has his sessions during hour-long lunches with executive clients.

  • A spiritual coach who coaches while going on hikes in the wilderness with clients.

  • A mindset and transformational coach who uses horseback riding and working with horses to facilitate growth.

  • A time-management coach who works while going fishing.

All of these examples are essentially normal activities that can be done while still maintaining a conversation. So why does cuddling get the bad rap?

Can you be a Cuddlist and an ICF Coach?

Let's put it another way. One of the requirements from the ICF to get an ACC credential is a :

  • Performance evaluation (audio recording and written transcript of a coach session to be uploaded with your application).

If no one can tell you were cuddling with a client in a recording, and you held a completely professional and 5-star coaching session, does it really matter at the end of the day what you do to facilitate a session?

That being said, there are some serious considerations, ground rules, and vetting that needs to happen so an appropriate coach-client relationship is maintained.

Cuddlesanctuary and Cuddlist are two websites that provide resources, services, and training for those who are interested in the field. *

Note, this does not mean CLCI is saying that these sites are an authority on the matter, nor are we promoting them in any way. Do your research folks and be safe. Now, on to R-rated coaching.

Sex Coaching

We tried really hard to find an appropriate image. So instead, here's a non-suggestive photo of some fruit.

Sex is a bit of a paradox. It's simultaneously a taboo topic (in the US at least) and yet you also hear the phrase "Sex sells" as a truism.

Here's the truth, sex sells because it is a taboo, and because it's a taboo a cycle starts:

  • Not enough people talk about or receive proper education when it comes to sex,

  • People then have specific problems and goals they want to achieve when it comes sex, yet don't feel completely comfortable talking about it,

  • The need for sex-positive therapists/coaches and neutral, nonjudgmental spaces is increased to help address the needs of a client.

If you are starting out as marriage or relationship coach, you'll probably find out very quickly that you are also a sex coach, it just comes with the territory.

But what about for the more "adventurous" coaches out there?

In polite terms, there a staggering amount of "niches" you can fill as a sex coach. Whether the goal of a client is to have more of it, get better at it, or venture into unknown territory with their partner(s), there is a wealth of clients who want and can benefit from having a coach work with them.

Here's the rub, after searching through the ICF's Training Program Search Service, not one results populates when you CTRL+F search for the keyword "sex".

It seems the "sex-coaching and consulting" training exists in a separate realm and has standards apart from the ICF umbrella. Despite that, there is nothing stopping you from becoming certified and accredited as a life coach and including sex as your niche.

Can I be a sex worker and coach at the same time?

On this, the ICF says NO. If we cite the ICF Code of Ethics specifically:

Section III-Responsibility to Professionalism As an ICF Professional I: 24. Do not participate in any sexual or romantic engagement with Client(s) or Sponsor(s). I will be ever mindful of the level of intimacy appropriate for the relationship. I take the appropriate action to address the issue or cancel the coaching engagement.

Whatever your opinion is on sex work, it's legitimacy, or the relationships with clients are, the ICF is firm on this point. You cannot engage in any sexual or romantic relations with the people you are working with. It creates a fairly obvious conflict of interest and it is extremely wise to avoid those types of relationships with coaching clients.

NLP Coaching

How do we change the operating system of our brains?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Coaches

The hypothesis is that by using and observing verbal/non-verbal language, you can reprogram the neurology and behaviour of a person to better align with their goals. And that it can be used on yourself and others to influence outcomes. Many NLP practitioners will claim that NLP is both an art and a science that is a collection of practical skills and techniques that will lead to excellence and growth. While ICF does acknowledge NLP training programs as legitimate, here's where standard Life Coaching and NLP begin to diverge:

  • The claim that a scientific understanding is what grounds NLP theories

  • The use of hypnosis and working with the unconscious mind

  • A focus on the client's internal behaviours and that a change in behaviour is what creates success, rather than a goal oriented approach

  • Has a basis in psychotherapy and counseling

Sounds promising but here is where the oddity arises: If you claim your process is scientific and has scientific grounding, it should be recognized by the scientific/academic community as such, correct?

As it stands, it seems that it is the layman and the practitioners who are espousing the benefits and science of NLP. Meanwhile, the scientific and academic community has remained skeptical at best.; the most outspoken criticisms being that NLP is outright pseudoscience.

Our take, if you coach and decide to make scientific claims about your practice, be prepared to scientifically defend your claims and be prepared for scientific criticism.

The Case for NLP

NLP, historically, did make an earnest attempt to build off of Noam Chomsky's study of linguistics and Universal Grammar. It also is connected to the studies of Sapir & Worf, who proposed the hypothesis of Linguistic Relativity: that the structure of a language actually affects and determines (to a degree) the reality and cognition of a speaker. Along with the above, NLP preempted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a practice widely used among psychologists to change behavioral patterns .

Interestingly enough the main assumptions of CBT and NLP are almost identical: That by changing maladaptive thinking (or language) patterns, you can change a person's behaviour. The only difference between the two is the methodology and current scientific acceptance.

What is important to note is that CBT is undoubtedly used as a therapeutic practice, which is wholly outside of the coaching domain. Whereas many NLP practitioners will skirt the line of therapy and coaching.

NLP, does it work? Maybe. The results may deliver, but the basis is shaky.

Genius Coaching

Next Einstein, or village dunce? What if you can decide?

Towards the end of our Live discussion, we glance over the topic of Genius Coaching, the practice of maximizing the full creative and intellectual potential of a child. Moreso, we ask, what is the appropriate age you can coach a child?

Most coaches tend to coach adults who can fully consent to a coaching relationship. Fewer, but still many, coach teenagers and children with the consent of the parents. But is there a lower limit to who we can coach?

At a certain point, you begin to coach the parents, rather than the child.

Here's another conundrum. Am I even qualified to define, test for, and coach genius?

As far as we are concerned, yes! You can coach someone who has genius level intellect, children/parents included. But what exactly is considered a genius is up for debate. Many Genius Coaches will claim that it is fostered, rather than predetermined. That's fine and dandy, but we have to admit, it is also a good marketing tool to expand the customer base by allowing anyone to be eligible for Genius Coaching.

The takeaway? Yes you can be a coach for genius, but be prepared to present a good definition of genius.


With that we wrap up our discussion on the weird world of coaching. We hope that this has been both entertaining and insightful and of course, do your own research.

Thank you,

Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr, and Anthony Lopez!

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