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5 Questions to Ask a Prospective Coach or Therapist

When you are seeking out any kind of mental health support (or any kind of HEALTH support for that matter), I encourage you to interview your providers.

Just because you find a therapist with great reviews somewhere (is that even a thing? I don't think therapists get reviews 😂) doesn't mean they'll be a good fit for YOU.

Reaching out to a coach or therapist for the first time can feel daunting and vulnerable. Knowing what to say once you actually get on the phone with them can feel even scarier.

Here are 5 questions that you can ask future providers to get a feel for who they are, what they stand for, and how they'll conduct their sessions.

(✨Bonus: if you read the second half of the blog post, I’ll share MY personal answers and responses to these questions!)

Not only will the answers give you valuable data, the more you talk to any therapist or coach the more you'll get a feel for their personality and whether yall would be a good fit.

The following questions are specific to working with an Intuitive Eating Counselor/Coach, but you can alter them to fit your situation if you want to work with a different kind of specialist!


5 Questions to ask a potential Intuitive Eating Counselor:

👉 What's your philosophy on healing/recovery?

This is especially important if you're working to heal your relationships with your body and food because you need to find a coach who is realistic about recovery and all that entails.

If you're seeking support with something outside of recovery, asking "what's your philosophy on healing or mental wellbeing?" is still a great question to learn more about the provider's theoretical orientation.

Here are some examples of what a coach or therapist could say:

  • "I believe in helping you eliminate pain and suffering by helping you pursue your dream life - we will focus a lot on values together."

  • "I help equip you with the tools to process your emotions and learn to cope with inevitable pain and suffering."

  • "I believe that all pain is rooted in our thoughts and perception of the world around us so we'll work to shift your thoughts and beliefs"

  • "I believe healing happens on the level of the body and so we'll do a lot of somatic work together - breathing, visualizing, etc."

None of these are right or wrong (and most therapists & coaches will probably have a mix and overlap of different techniques), but some approaches may resonate with you more than others so it's important to get a feel of what's out there!


👉 How are you different from other Intuitive Eating coaches?

You can replace “Intuitive Eating coaches” with any other profession (addiction counselor, couples therapist, etc.)

Every therapist or coach is a PERSON outside of their training and credentials. We are unique just like you're unique! Two therapists can go to the same graduate school and have very different specialties and worldviews. Find someone that gets YOU.


👉 How will our work be different than the work I'd be doing with a therapist?

This question is specifically for interviewing a coach. PLEASEEEE ask this question. Coaching and therapy are very different. Coaches need to stay in their lane. And this question is a great way to make sure your coach is aware of what those lanes are. (Once you start working together, it's also important to make sure they're adhering to the boundaries they originally presented to you.)


👉 What are your credentials?

Coaching is an unregulated field which means literally anyone can call themselves a coach. I think it's important to know a therapists' credentials too, especially if you're wanting to see a specialist. If you're getting support for an eating disorder, you'll definitely want to ask about the training and certifications a therapist has working with that population.

For coaches, it's ESPECIALLY important though. If a coach has a master's degree in counseling 🙋‍♀️(hi, me) that's a real bonus! Otherwise, make sure they have some sort of coach training, trauma-informed training, and/or some type of modality training (CBT, DBT, Motivational Interviewing, ACT, etc) under their belt.

All that being said, I recognize that credentials are a privilege. It takes time and money to pay for a higher level of education which has made the coaching, therapist, and dietitian world disproportionately white, cisgendered, and able-bodied. There are definitely skillful coaches out there who have not paid for formal training and certifications - especially those with lived experience of being in a marginalized body.

Do your research and trust your gut; if you feel called to work with a particular coach there's probably a reason why!


👉 What are your thoughts on weight gain and weight loss?

Ohhhhh yes we're going there. This question not only gives you more information on the type of work you'll be doing together, but it also presents an opportunity for a coach to potentially name their thin privilege and/or show their fatphobic cards if they have them.

Again, all of these questions are helping you get a big picture view of how this coach operates and what their own personal beliefs are on healing which will directly impact you as a client.


Oh hello there!

I'm Chelsea - an Intuitive Eating Counselor & Anti-Diet Coach.

Check out my answers to these 5 questions!

👉 What's your philosophy on healing/recovery?

You've probably heard this one before, but healing isn't linear. I believe that healing and growth can sometimes look and feel messy.

Once you set out on a journey of body acceptance, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. There will be days of doubt and skepticism. Those are important days.

As far as recovery goes, I do believe that full recovery from disordered behaviors is possible. But let's not confuse behaviors with thoughts. Depending on how deeply you were in your eating disorder or disordered eating, you may continue to feel triggered and encounter challenging thoughts long after you've stopped engaging in behaviors.

Working with me, "success" is not defined by the elimination of negative or intrusive thoughts. Success and growth are seen in how you respond to triggers - how you respond to diet culture - how you respond to critical thoughts. What is your relationship to these thoughts and triggers and how can you respond without engaging in behaviors or resorting to old patterns?

Last I checked, diet-culture isn't going anywhere. To think that you will never encounter another trigger or never have a challenging body image day is unrealistic. You WILL have hard days and the goal in healing and recovery is to learn how to best work with those hard days rather than feel powerless in the face of them.


👉 How are you different from other Intuitive Eating coaches?

I have a master's degree in counseling and most coaches don't. I went to grad school for Clinical Mental Health Counseling and have training as a psychotherapist prior to entering the coaching field.

There are skills I learned from 3 years of grad school and being a therapist that can't be taught in an online coach certification program. I will sit in the yuck with you, hold space for any and all emotions no matter how big, and help you stay connected to your body through it all.

Some other things that make me unique are my training in mindfulness. My graduate program was titled "Mindfulness-based Transpersonal Counseling Psychology" and mindfulness shows up as a key component in the work I do with my clients (whether they're aware of it or not! 😂).

As far as my specialties go, I really enjoy working with other helping professionals (therapists, coaches, dietitians, social workers) as I know how hard it can be to get help and have a safe space to work through your own struggles when you're constantly giving to and supporting others.

I've also performed musical theater and danced professionally and feel very passionately about working with dancers as I understand the unique body image struggles that come with that career.


👉 How will our work be different than the work I'd be doing with a therapist?

This is super important!!

First, our work will be very focused. Clients come to me wanting to heal their relationships with food and their bodies and that's what we focus on. We will occasionally dip into the past and explore beliefs you inherited as a child, but the majority of our work is focused on the present moment and setting goals for the future. Coaching has a lot of forward momentum to it.

Many of my clients see a therapist in addition to working with me. Therapists are trained to help you heal trauma and diagnose and treat mental health conditions which coaches cannot do.


👉 What are your credentials?

I have my master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and worked with eating disorders, families, children, and adolescents in a counseling capacity before switching over to coaching.

My program in school was focused on Mindfulness-based Transpersonal Counseling (a silent meditation retreat was part of the curriculum and we began each class with sitting meditation); meditation and mindfulness impact my personal development and they also impact how I coach and interact with my clients.

I'm certified in Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT) and am 90% through with my training to be a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.


👉 What are your thoughts on weight gain and weight loss?

Weight loss and weight gain are aspects of life. They will almost inevitably happen to each of us at one point or another as our bodies are designed to change over time and are constantly in flux responding to different chapters of our lives.

During our time together you may lose weight, gain weight, or your weight may stay the same. Learning to accept that all three of these outcomes are possible, at any point in life, is something we will work on together.

Our work together focuses on self-acceptance and inner peace - not a number on the scale. I will neither celebrate nor pathologize your changes in weight, if they occur, and I'm here to hold space and help you process any reaction to have to those changes.


👉👉If my answers resonate with you and you're looking for some extra support right now, check out my 1:1 coaching! Designed to be flexible and accessible, we meet when you want for as long as you want to help you feel more confident in and connected to your body and at peace around food.

Want to stay in touch? 👇


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