Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
"What is Life Coaching?"
Life coaching helps people live out their dreams by helping you take the obstacles out of the way and get the junk out of the way. We have conversations that explore goals, decide on actions, hold you accountable while provoking new thoughts and inspiring you to develop and follow your burning desire.
My individual coaching sessions are "Enlightened Conversations". Life coaching is an invaluable service to help you achieve self-actualization and help you take the best advantage of your life -- by your own rules. It's a process of guided transformation, where you can leverage consistent support, encouragement and clarity from your coach to help empower you to see through massive and rapid life changes. It's an end to procrastinating your life away, an end to succumbing to the daily grind. It always allows leveraging your freedom to choose so that you can choose wisely. The role of the coach is to help you delve deeper into yourself and your life situation, so you can surpass your barriers and resisting change, and to have someone to help you uncover what is holding you back.
I coach business people into having the business of their dreams, parents into having better relationships with their children and people into living out their dreams.
"What holds people back from their dreams?"
Most people are held back by fear, anxiety, worries, concerns, confusion, and not knowing their resources. Sometimes people have a dream but can't figure out where to start, but most people who have a dream allow it to be set aside due to other priorities. A good coach will help you find ways to make your dream a priority while managing your stress levels.
When people are afraid they have a hard time making long-term plans or figuring out their next step in achieving a long-term goal. When you're anxious or worried you feel rushed about what you feel stressed about. You're consumed by it. So fear keeps you locked into the big problem, and doesn't allow you to set it aside and take care of other things too.
"How does fear tie in to stress?"
"Fear" is the big category for a lot of very personal emotions: concern, worry, panic, anxiety. It also ties in with other undesirable emotions like frustration and anger. Some philosophers say there's really only two emotions: Fear and Love, and everything else is simply a matter of degree and blending those together.
When we have these feelings, our body releases a chemical into our system that tells us to shut off everything unnecessary and go into "Panic Mode". It shuts down our digestion, it changes our circulation, it changes how we think. If we're just a little anxious, it's a trickle of the chemical. If it's outright panic, then it's a flood. It puts us into the state that medicine and biology calls "Stress" -- our body changes systems to handle the crisis even at the expense of our long-term health.
The problem is that our body is not meant to live in a state of distress for a long period of time. We're supposed to spend most of our time in a relaxed state, and sometimes have something that worries or frightens us, resolve it, then go back to being basically relaxed or excited about something we're working on.
But in our modern world, we're subjected to stress every day. We've forgotten what it's like to have no stress in our lives. Instead we have deadlines, crunches, workaholism and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some of us are in a constant state of anxiety. We need help.
"What is a 'peer'?"
A mental health peer is a person who has or has had a known mental health issue. To provide support services for other peers, a mental health peer must be stable enough to provide services to help support other peers without putting themselves into crisis or getting triggered, and without creating issues of codependence or projecting their own issues on their customer. Peer services are available in a variety of environments. The philosophy is that no one really understands the complexities of mental health issues, living with a mental difference, the stigma of having a diagnosis, and the daily living issues of mental health struggles like a peer, so peers can provide additional emotional and experiential support to their clients over persons who have never experienced a mental health issue or crisis.
"What is peer life coaching?"
I am both a mental health peer and trained as a life coach. I have a mental health difference, have spent time in a mental hospital, and in therapy. As a life coach, I am already trained in maintaining a professional distance from my client in terms of not creating codependence or projecting my issues on my client. I set aside my own issues and am fully there for my client during sessions, but still come with additional knowledge and perspective of having experienced mental health crises, hospitalization, therapy, anxiety, the effects of stress on mental health, emotional break-downs, the recovery process, triggers, stigma, judgement, inability to work, inability to care for myself, etc. I know this brings additional value to the people I work with, and helps them feel understood, and seen for who they truly are rather than a set of symptoms. I don't pass judgement on you or your diagnosis. I help you see who you are, and determine where you want to go, and help you figure out how to get there in spite of your issues, and help you work around any differences or limitations you may have or experience.
"Do you work with people without differences? I've never been diagnosed with a mental health issue."
Yes, I can work with people who have no differences or diagnosis. Setting goals and achieving them is a universal struggle for everyone. I have additional compassion and sympathy for people handling daily stressors and the toll these can take on people, and that has a universal value regardless of your condition. Some people undervalue the cost of what our society may see as "normal" stress and I recognize it and help you overcome it. Stress does not only take a toll on people with mental health issues — it can have enormous impacts on our physical health as well.
"What will you do for me?"
I will help you open up to possibilities, keep you on-track and accountable to your goals. I will accept you as you are while challenging you to become the person we both know you can become -- the person you want to become. I will help you learn about the obstacles you experience and how to transform them into tools to grow into your dreams. And my specialty is helping you cultivate your dreams into burning desires, so that you have endless energy to craft and live out your life purpose.
"What won't you do for me?"
I won't hand you a plan* or tell you what to do. I won't do the work for you. I won't pass judgement, label you, or ask you to change to fit into society's opinion of "normal". A coach is not a therapist, and I will not fix your problems for you, but I can help you find what's getting in the way of you transforming dreams into reality, and help you get past it. I will help you find the gifts that those challenges have given you, so you can experience unconditional love and profound gratitude.
* With the one caveat that group coaching or a pre-made program may be a pre-designed series of ideas and exercises intended to walk you through a specific process of self-development. In this case, you have chosen to go through a pre-made process and since you are bringing your unique situation and perspective to it, I would expect you to get something unique out of it.
"How is coaching different from therapy?"
Coaches are not interested in exploring the past or labeling you with any disorders, prescribing medications or assigning therapies. The best coaches are interested in helping you realize your best possible future and transforming obstacles into opportunities. You choose whether you want to have a coaching relationship, and you choose the agenda for each session. With consistent coaching, you can expand and determine your goals, then make rapid progress towards them. With your agreement, a coach may assign tasks for you to do out of the session, and explore with you what the results are. The biggest difference is that you are in a coaching relationship voluntarily and as a full participant.
"If I ask questions by email, how quickly can I expect an answer?"
You may email me or text me with questions at any time, and I will usually answer quickly, but I may be with a client or out of the office, so please remember that life coaching is not an emergency. I do not always monitor my phone or emails. If you think you may need to talk to someone or ask questions on an emergency basis, you would probably call someone other than your life coach. Life coaching is proactive and preventative. If you're having an emergency or crisis, please seek out emergency assistance, a therapist, or other health professional. There are suicide hotlines, emergency caseworkers, etc. who are set up to help in times of crisis. There are also hotline texting services for mental health issues. We are happy to help when we can.
"Where are you located? Where can we meet?"
I do most of my work on the phone, which allows for travel, client privacy (you can't accidentally bump into my other clients), and making my services available at a lower price to more people. For some clients, I can arrange to travel to you, or arrange for office hours in the Orange County (NY) area — so long as I'm not on the road. Visits to your location may incur travel charges.
I am willing to do in-person intake appointments for free in a public space such as a diner, coffee shop, etc. However, phone still adds an extra layer of privacy, and isn't possible if I'm travelling.
"Are our sessions confidential?"
Yes, your session is confidential. There is a confidentiality statement in our coaching agreement.
"Do you accept insurance?"
Unfortunately we cannot accept insurance, however you should inquire as to whether or not you can use a flex spending account (should you have one) or self-direction monies for life coaching sessions.
"I'm on disability insurance. How can I afford you?"
We do our best to be flexible and offer sliding-scale services. We provide discounted services with the caveat that if you should improve your income as a result of working with us that you voluntarily increase your session fees. Honesty in our relationship is important, and we do need to pay our bills as well.
"What is your refund policy?"
Individual sessions can be canceled without penalty with 24 hours or more notice. If The Client cancels a scheduled appointment without 24 hour notification, 1/2 hour of coaching will be deducted from the current prepaid sessions. If The Coach misses a scheduled appointment without 24 hour notice, 1/2 hour of coaching will be credited to The Client (this has yet to happen — but we figure turnabout is fair play). If a scheduled appointment is missed without a courtesy call, the entire session length shall be deducted or credited. This agreement works in favor of the party who is "stood up" in case I miss an appointment due to an emergency involving my children, etc. Sometimes Life Happens. As it hasn't happened in all my years of coaching, it would be pretty darned unusual. :)
"How many coaches are in your practice? You alternate between 'I' and 'we'…"
Liberated Life Coaching is run by one body-person, Rev. Criss Ittermann. However, we are a group entity sharing one life. We discovered that we had a mental difference in 1986 and have lived as a knowing group entity ever since, with no desire to try to eliminate one another in the name of "normalcy". We consider our multiplicity or plurality to be a strength, and as a result we have several internal trained life coaches, shamanic practitioners, and Interfaith ministers who can provide coaching and supportive services for persons with mental health differences, issues or disorders. As a result, we do sometimes alternate between I and we depending on our comfort level with revealing our multiplicity, or the external culture of the people we are dealing with. We are quite happy to use either the first person singular or plural in your sessions, whichever you are more comfortable with.