You have probably heard me say many times that it’s important to be a student of our craft. But what exactly do I mean when I say this? What’s our craft; what exactly should you study? That’s what we’re going to get into today and in the next few episodes! If you want to continuously grow and level up your skills as a financial coach, you are going to love these episodes!

I know so much more today than I did when I started and I hope that 15 years from now, I’ll know even more than I do today. I think that’s such a lovely thought. This growth occurs simply by pulling on various threads, going down rabbit holes and remaining curious. It comes from learning and applying, learning and applying. Rinse and repeat.

The Three Sides of Your Growth Triangle

I want you to consider your skills as a triangle – there are three sides and your goal is to continuously develop each side.

coaching triangle

Side 1: Financial Strategies

This is knowing how to crunch and analyze numbers but also how to interpret those numbers. It’s understanding how to examine the financial elements of a decision plus learning about income strategies, debt management options, savings methods, plus so much more. We will dive into this side of your triangle in the final episode of this series.

Side 2: Coaching Methods

Your coaching methods help you with communicating the financial strategies to clients so they get it. It’s understanding how to create buy-in and how to approach a problem from different perspectives and break it down so clients can see it and understand it. Your coaching methods are proven methods and frameworks to help clients visualize their path of success. There are specific coaching methods you can use and this side of your growth triangle will be the focus of the beginning episodes in this series.

Side 3: Business Acumen

If you have business acumen, you’re learning the various strategies for running a successful business. Marketing, sales, client onboarding, systems, financial strategies for running a business, hiring, delegating – all examples of skills you learn, then learn some more, then learn some more.

This last one is important because I talk to coaches every day who have completed a training or certification other than the Financial Coach Academy® and they say, “I learned a new skill but I can’t use it because I don’t know how to get clients.” Of course, the skill they learned is likely related to one of the other sides of the triangle so they learned a coaching skill or gained some new financial knowledge, but then they don’t have any clients to use their new skill with!

Your first two sides of the triangle don’t matter if you don’t have any clients to use them with. I’m incredibly proud to say that the Financial Coach Academy® program covers all three of these.

Your Coaching Methods Cheat Sheet

I know the idea of becoming a skilled coach (the actual coaching side of our work) can feel daunting. But if you arm yourself with proven techniques, you can become a great coach.

I’m going to give you a Cheat Sheet of these proven techniques. I’ll provide a brief summary of each method, I’ll refer to previous episodes where I did deeper dives or used some of these methods in a concept you have already learned, and in future episodes, I look forward to doing deeper dives on some of these methods as well.

The goal here is to give you a starting point so you can begin to explore these on your own. As far as I know, there is nothing else like this that exists, and not just for financial coaches, but for coaches of all kinds. I really think this cheat sheet will have a positive impact on your coaching.

Get your Coaching Methods Cheat Sheet here!

Now to start, I want you to think about what you hear coaching is most often. I suspect that it’s quite general. Things like “Ask questions, use active listening, hold space for the client, have the client set goals.” Or you might hear, “ask open-ended questions.” Right? All true but also, all the absolute bare minimum expectations of coaching.

But there are actual coaching techniques and models you can apply to specific situations. There are coaching frameworks that act as your tools and give you direction as a coach so you can facilitate the conversation in an effective way. They’re designed to help you deliver, in our case, as financial coaches, the financial concepts in an ethical, human-centered way in order to stimulate interest, passion, curiosity and buy-in for the client.

Key Points to Remember

Before we dive in to these specific techniques, there are a few key points I want to share:

  1. You won’t use one of these methods every time – for every client, in every session and for every situation. That’s not how coaching works.
  2. You don’t need to know or use all of these. They are simply tools and just like a carpenter might use one tool everyday and never own another tool, that’s how I want you to think of these tools as well.
  3. Disclaimer: As you begin to explore these concepts, you might read “This is the most powerful tool for coaches”… and that’s not true. It’s NEVER true. These are all powerful tools, every single one of them. Because it ultimately depends on the client and situation so there isn’t one that is THE MOST powerful.

Two models may have similar steps, but a model that emphasizes self-awareness is going to work better for a client who struggles with reflecting on and understanding their own perspective on something. Whereas a model that places an emphasis on the action-taking or commitment phase is best for a client who perhaps already has a high degree of self-awareness and yet still struggles with knowing the best route to take.

As coaches, we work with people, so there’s a fluidity and genuine responsiveness we all must bring to our conversations and work with clients. These models help to bring structure to something that is fluid. It’s not one or the other, it’s both.

Exploring the Models and Methods

Here’s what I’d like to encourage you to do with this cheat sheet. Explore the models and methods by searching the following:

  • What is ______?
  • What is the purpose of ______?
  • What is the goal of ______?
  • What is an example of ______?
  • ______ in practice
  • Benefits of ______
  • What are the criticisms of ______?

That last question or search phrase is important to ensure you’re getting a well-rounded understanding of the concept, when it’s best used and when or how it’s NOT best utilized.

It’s probably easier to follow along as you’re reading along, so be sure to download your cheat sheet.

Some of the things I’ll be mentioning are actual frameworks or methods but the first four are broader fields of study. So we’re starting a bit more general with these first four.

Broader Fields of Study

Positive Psychology

This is a branch of psychology focused on the character strengths and behaviors that allow individuals to build a life of meaning and purpose – to move beyond surviving to flourishing. Positive psychology is a field of study that includes many different methods and modalities. It embodies a set of philosophies; it’s a way of thinking about how to help people, that’s how I want you to think about it.

Some criticisms of positive psychology are that it is an oversimplification of human experiences particularly when it comes to negative experiences, adversity or challenges. In other words, if misapplied, it’s like toxic positivity. I’m not saying I agree or disagree with that critique but I want to encourage you to know these perceived limitations when exploring these coaching methods. It will help you to adopt a well-rounded understanding of the concept because again, none of these are perfect and will work for everyone and everything.

Writing about and reflecting on good experiences as a means of enhancing your well-being is an example of a tool that comes from positive psychology.


Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system – from structure to function, development to degeneration, in health and in disease. It covers the whole nervous system, with a primary focus on the brain.

Where positive psychology might be seen as over-simplified, the study of the nervous system, as you can imagine, is incredibly complex. Do you have to become an expert in neuroscience? Absolutely not. My learning around neuroscience is what influenced my approach and philosophies to sales conversations, which I shared in episode 67.

Emotional Intelligence

This is the idea that intelligence exists within our emotions. Think of emotions as input, data or information, not just a sensation. This can be helpful because some clients need help from their coach to learn to identify their emotions and how they are useful.

Cognitive Behavioral Coaching

A coaching approach that draws on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Again, like the first three, this is a body of work, not just one method. CBC or CBT helps people to identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Episode 18 of this podcast is an example of a coaching model that stems from CBT so check out that episode to get a feel for this. If misapplied, CBC can be manipulative. It also doesn’t address any underlying causes of mental health conditions or traumatic experiences like unhappy or disturbing childhoods. Coaches who misapply CBC say “you just change your thoughts,” which can be dismissive and doesn’t address the root cause.

Now let’s talk about some more specific coaching techniques, tools, and methods that can seriously level up your financial coaching skills.

Specific Coaching Techniques, Tools and Methods

Exploring the Gap

Exploring the gap involves helping a client identify where they are now, where they want to get to, and what is standing in the way of them getting there. What’s the gap?

If you listen to our Ultimate Growth Guide series, then you hear me infuse this coaching concept into the coaching sessions a few different times in the client journey. Exploring the gap is also used during sales conversations a lot of the time.

GROW Coaching Model

GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Obstacles/Options, and Way Forward. This is a process that encourages vision, planning and commitment.

I would say that when people imagine themselves in a coaching role, I think the GROW model is what comes to mind. The GROW model is what they see themselves doing even if they don’t have a name for it.

You set a goal with a client, figure out where they are today, discuss obstacles and options, and then move forward with action steps. Boom, boom, boom, all is right in the world. That works great for goal-oriented individuals. So if you have a driven, self-aware client, this model probably works but it doesn’t create space for philosophical dilemmas or if a person is uninterested, if the goal is unrealistic or the person doesn’t have the will power to move forward.

Chances are, when you first start out as a coach, you deploy this model in your sessions…and then a client doesn’t take action or gets stuck or says they want to accomplish something but without the means or desire to actually do it and you’re not sure what to do. That’s where a lot more of these coaching models come in and can work better.

CLEAR Coaching Model

CLEAR stands for Contract, Listen, Explore, Action, Review. This is a framework to structure your coaching sessions and guide your clients that focuses on building trust, rapport and clarity between you and your client. It’s simply one way to have structure if the idea of winging it overwhelms or intimidates you.

One pitfall of the CLEAR coaching model is that it requires the client to assess their current situation on their own and some clients simply can’t do that effectively.

Transactional Analysis

A transactional analysis (TA) helps us to understand how we respond to communications and interactions. So it’s a framework for better understanding why we think, feel and act the way we do, but “transaction” means in our interactions with others.

This is helpful when a client needs to establish financial boundaries with a long-time friend or family member. It can also be helpful when first establishing new habits and the way your client is acting or behaving is vastly different than perhaps the way they’ve made decisions in the past.

Finally, if you find yourself in fight or flight mode, TA can be a useful tool. An example you’ve heard me discuss on this podcast before is: How I respond when I see two people being verbally abusive or just mean to each other in their communication style. My reaction to that dynamic, if I wanted to coach myself through that and improve in those situations, I could look to transactional analysis as a tool to help me do that.

Gestalt Cycle of Awareness

This is a comprehensive model for understanding how we navigate experiences. The model represents the non-linear process by which we continuously interact with our environment. It’s phenomenal for helping the client to gain greater awareness of what they are experiencing.

The seven stages of the Gestalt Cycle of Awareness are Sensation, Awareness, Mobilization, Action, Contact, Satisfaction, and Withdrawal.

My lesson on spending triggers, which I shared on Episode 40 of this podcast, is a perfect example of a coaching concept built around the Gestalt Cycle of Awareness.

Think about how a client might react to their checking account being overdrawn again compared to how you might feel if your account were to get overdrafted. Some clients don’t seem to care and I can tell you that if I overdrafted my account, I would experience a very intense sensation right?

The Gestalt Cycle of Awareness says that in order to notice something (gain awareness), you must first experience some sort of sensation. It can be a positive or negative sensation – touch of someone’s hand on your leg, feeling of hunger or your stomach rumbling, and we notice that sensation.

If you’ve had the thought that some clients don’t seem to care that their checking account is overdrafted again, or that they went over budget, it’s probably not a caring thing. It’s that they have dulled the sensation of it. They’ve become desensitized to it so their awareness cannot occur. The thought “Hmm… I should probably do something about that so it doesn’t happen again…”

Go back and listen to episode 40 on Spending Triggers because it’s designed to help clients feel the sensation so that they can begin this cycle – the Gestalt Cycle of Awareness.

The Magic of Financial Coaching

So here’s the scoop… I took a financial concern clients were experiencing – spending triggers (it’s likely your clients and even you and I all experience spending triggers)… and combined it with a coaching method, Gestalt Cycle of Awareness, to create a specific financial coaching concept. And that concept I teach inside of one of my Financial Coaching Toolkits.

This is the magic coach, I’m telling you. You take a financial concern or topic (debt, savings, net worth, spending, income optimization, wealth generation, you name it, the list goes on and on) and combine it with a coaching method, 1+1 = 2. That is financial coaching. And what I just described, that is literally what all of the Financial Coaching Toolkits are.

Every single lesson – there are over 60 of them – this is exactly how I designed each and every one. When I first started coaching, there weren’t all these financial education and financial literacy topics that existed.

If you’re ready to level up your financial coaching skills, start by downloading the cheat sheet. Commit to exploring one technique at a time, and watch as your coaching abilities soar. Your clients will thank you for investing in your growth and delivering even more value to them!