Coaching in Times of Crisis

As the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the globe, so do anxiety, confusion and negativity. Working as a Health Coach from Switzerland, where drastic measures have been imposed on individuals and businesses, has caused me to reflect and think about coaching in this “business as un-usual” time.

The fears and negativity we are experiencing stem from how little we know about COVID-19. As coaches, it is our role to embrace what we do know and aim to shift the negative mindset by establishing a safe and supportive environment that creates ongoing mutual respect and trust. Together, collectively, we need to rethink, renew and reconnect. Here’s how!


The crisis has everybody rethinking and behaving more mindfully. We are washing our hands more and eating for health while avoiding crowds and handshakes. I like to call this more mindful behavior “STOP mode:” stop, take a breath, observe and proceed. I consider it the ideal mindset for approaching the unknown. We can take advantage of the current mindset to:

  • Be here in the present, recognizing that many of our negative thoughts are not our current reality since most of us are healthy, our loved ones well, and life fine.
  • Be grateful for the things that are going well in life right now and focus on the present—a powerful antidote to worrying about the future.
  • Acknowledge the fear, anxiety and worry that we and our clients may be experiencing, which can help us not to dwell too long in the negative emotional space.
  • Ask ourselves what precautions we can take to manage the uneasiness and make things feel less overwhelming.
  • Check in with our physical well-being.
  • Anticipate what aspects of our coaching business might be affected by the Coronavirus ripple effect (e.g., cancellations, shutdowns or negativity).
  • Think about what is going on in the minds of our clients and what might best serve them right now. One company I work for just shut down the premises to outsiders. Together we had to rethink running our live group program remotely.
  • Understand what is happening in our specific industry and perhaps rethink our offerings.
  • Determine how our niche coaching work can add value during and after the crisis.
  • Take time to seek new opportunities that we may not have had time to think about before.
  • Evaluate how we are prepared for alternative modes of working, considering software, hardware, training and tools.



As coaches, we see many ways to work with the client and choose which is most effective. Many contingency plans require remote work. The situation may even accelerate the development of a technology infrastructure that can support alternative types of working. After rethinking, we can be inspired to renew by:

  • Continuing to be purposeful, realigning our values with our work.
  • Enjoying our free time and balancing our lives.
  • Seizing the opportunity to acquire and train in new software or other resources in order to maintain productivity, renew and grow.
  • Leveraging email, instant messaging and social media platforms toward better and more consistent use.
  • Ensuring adequate separation of work and personal life, carving out a designated workspace if remote work is a new solution.
  • Using the extra time gained from cancellations or shutdowns to renew websites, marketing strategy, newsletters or blog posts.



Stay connected with your clients and others, making adjustments as warranted by the coaching process and changes in the situation. This unusual situation gives us a wonderful opportunity to:

  • Maintain meaningful connections to keep relationships alive and attitudes positive.
  • Draw strength from loved ones to help us all stay strong and optimistic.
  • Connect with clients by phone or email to communicate clearly about our renewals and agility faced with the unusual situation. Personally, I spontaneously anticipated and proposed all of my live meetings be held virtually.
  • Invite clients to share thoughts on how they anticipate their current or future needs.
  • Use social media to inform about specific, more positive aspects of the current situation that might help reassure clients.
  • Create private groups to encourage clients ask questions or share concerns.
by Ellen Kocher – International Coaching Federation.
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