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  • Bonnie Prestridge

What exactly do coaches do? | Part 1: Results

The most common question I get about my coaching practice is “What exactly do you do?” People easily recognize the myriad challenges young adults encounter when they have a chronic illness. Folks are also quick to grasp the lack of resources and supports tailored to this population’s unique needs. What isn’t always obvious though is what exactly coaching is and how it can help.

The question is understandable, given how abstract formal definitions of coaching can be. For example, the International Coaching Federation's definition of coaching is “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Sure, that sounds nice, but what does it actually mean?

What concrete results can my clients achieve through coaching?

What precise methods are used to achieve them?

I’m here today to step past the abstractions and get specific. This piece will discuss results and the following blog post will elaborate on methods.


The exact results a client can achieve through my coaching program depend upon their unique situation and goals, as well as their commitment to the coaching process. My job is to help clients identify what outcomes would make the biggest difference in their lives, not tell them what they should be striving for. There are no one-size-fits all solutions; coaching is a highly individualized process (you may find this a refreshing change from your experiences in mainstream educational and medical institutions).

Below are examples of what young clients with chronic illnesses can accomplish with the support of a coach. Because each one is a big undertaking, we will focus on 1 to 2 during a 6-month program.


  • Gain a deeper understanding of your condition and the latest research

  • Manage “flare-ups” differently so that they don’t set you back so much

  • Find medical providers and healers who understand what you’re going through and treat the root cause of your chronic illness, not just the symptoms

High School

  • Get “back on track” if your chronic illness disrupted your academics

  • Graduate from high school or a GED program

  • Design a post-secondary plan (that’s a fancy way of saying “what to do after high school/GED”) that meets your health needs AND helps you build your future

  • Get accepted into a community college or 4-year university that fits your interests, budget (or lack thereof), and health needs

  • Get hired for a job or internship that accommodates your health needs

  • If school or work are too much for you right now, we can design alternative ways to develop critical knowledge and skills so you’re still building the future you want

College or University

  • Figure out a major that fits your skills, interests, and health needs

  • Transfer from a community college to a 4-year university

  • Set up a support system in your new location so you can live independently

  • Graduate!


  • Build knowledge and skills that are valuable on the job market

  • Identify internships, part-time jobs, full-time jobs and other career opportunities that fit your skills, interests, and health needs

  • Get an interview, nail the interview, and get the job

  • Comfortably transition back to work if you’ve been out for a while

  • Develop reliable strategies to manage your health at work

  • Get what you need to be successful and support your health at work


  • Keep your friendships and romantic relationships alive, even if you’re far away and/or if what you’re able to do together has changed a lot.

  • Deal with unsupportive people so that they don’t drag you down

  • Build a support network of other young people with chronic illnesses who get you

  • If living with a parent/caregiver, develop strategies to get along better, maintain healthy boundaries, and/or manage any of their behaviors that negatively impact you.

  • Actually have fun and feel more comfortable on dates

  • Find romantic partners who love and respect you, just as you are


  • Build adaptive independent living skills, such as cooking, cleaning, and getting around

  • Get back on track and build the future you want

  • Increase self-esteem and resilience in the face of negative people and societal norms

  • Make your chronic illness and body your ally, not your enemy

COMING SOON: Part 2 on the specific methods used to achieve these results

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