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12 Apr, 2011

Trainer In The Spotlight – Lorraine Thomas

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coach Spotlight|Coaching Academy News|In The Spotlight|Personal Success|Success Stories|Trainer In The Spotlight|Youth Coaching Articles

Trainer In The Spotlight - Lorraine Thomas

As a change to our regular “Coach In The Spotlight” feature, we have this week put Coaching Academy trainer, Lorraine Thomas in the hot seat and asked some quick fire questions:-

I deliver the “How To Excel At Parent Coaching” sessions for The Coaching Academy. This is part of its Youth Impact Coaching Diploma.

The coaching question that often elicits a breakthrough or ‘aha’ moment is…What kind of a mum or dad do you want to be to your child? This is such a simple and powerful question that can really make a difference to the way parents think. I often work with clients who believe that their children – and not them are in control – whether it’s a two-year-old throwing tantrums if the TV zapper’s taken away or a teenager staying out late at night.

The great thing about coaching is giving parents the confidence to get back in the driving seat and believe they can be the parent they want to be. Ask them to give you one word to sum up the mum or dad they want to be (give them time … they are used to talking about the parent they don’t want to be ie tense, stressed, grumpy, disorganised, guilty, negative etc …). It’s a powerful and effective foundation for any coaching session.

My favourite coaching question isWhat practical actions do you want to take over the next 7 days that will help you to be the parent you want to be?”

I love this question because the clients I work with have such fantastic ideas. They really are the experts on their families and it’s brilliant when they share these in group workshop sessions. I do, of course, work with clients where they set there own time frames but I have found that asking mums and dads to focus on the next 7 days is a successful strategy that parents really enjoy. A week is a lifetime in a family and parents can make huge leaps forward in that time because they are in control of what they are doing. They’re focusing on their relationship with their child and the way the respond and communicate with them in positive way.

I also like the question, “What have you done over the past 7 days that you feel good about as a mum or dad?”

Parents achieve a huge amount every hour of every day. They’re the Managing Directors of their own the most important company in the world – their family. They deal with personnel issues, vision, crisis management, organisation and budgets on an hourly basis. Parents give themselves a hard time. They’ll tell you what they haven’t done, should have done or could do better. They rarely take the time to step back and acknowledge their achievements.

I once worked with a dad who lived on a ‘bad’ estate (his word not mine). He said that when he became a dad, it was the happiest moment of his life. On the estate, there was poverty, drugs, violence – lots of really challenging issues. When I asked him what kind of dad he wanted to be, he started to cry saying that his son was a toddler now and that to be honest he hadn’t enjoyed being a dad at all. His partner worked shifts, he was responsible for bedtime routine – and it always ended up a shouting match and he lost his temper. I asked him what word he would choose to describe the dad he wanted to be – and he chose ‘fun’. I asked him to describe in detail what he wanted the bedtime routine to look like and how he wanted to feel – and then to identify one thing he could do that was inside his control to make it happen. He said he’d tried everything and nothing worked. We went back through his description of what he wanted to happen and then he had an ‘aha’ moment. He’d been letting his toddler watch TV before going to bed and there was always a row when he turned it off. He decided to remove the TV from the bedroom and read to him instead. He called me 48hrs later and said, “Lorraine I have just had the best 2 days of my life as a dad. I know it won’t be like this every night but I have done it once so I know I can do it.” That’s what coaching is all about.

I spend 25 hours a week coaching during term time and take all holidays off. The rest of my time is spent being the mum I want to be to my children Josh and Holly. The reason I went into coaching was so that I could do a job I loved – and be there for my family. I feel really blessed that I’ve achieved both these goals.
I usually market myself in packages. Companies wanting to support parents in the workplace can commission a mixture of workshops, 1-1 parent coaching, training for managers working with parents and consultancy as they develop their parent support strategy.

My top business building tip is – Be passionate about what you do. Passion is much more powerful that a perfect PowerPoint! Use business contacts you trust who share your value and vision through networks like LinkedIn.

If you want to attract more clients, I recommend that you build your media profile – my first book was commissioned on the basis of an interview I gave to the Sunday Times. All clients take a track record in the media very seriously. Do this at a local and national level and identify the key target programmes, papers, radio and publications that attract your ideal profile audience. Make sure that all media you have contributed to is recorded on your website.
I’d also recommend you write a book – it opens so many doors.

My best advice for marketing your coaching business is ‘walk your talk’ and demonstrate you have the work/life balance you want.

People probably don’t know that I was once asked by my 10-year-old son over breakfast if I’d I thought of ever thought of going on an anger management course. I was really impressed that he knew about such advanced concepts – until I realised he was asking because of something I’d got cross about the night before! The reason I think I love parent coaching is because being a mum really is the most important job I’ll ever do and I love it – and struggle with it on a daily basis just as thousands of other parents do. It’s a privilege to work with other mums and dads – we’re all pioneers on an adventure together.

My favourite self-development book is “The Heart of Success” by Rob Parsons. If there were more business leaders with his vision and values the world would be a very different place.

The best coaching book I have ever read is Sir John Whitmore Coaching For Performance. It made a huge impact on me when I was training and I continue to use it on a regular basis.

The most inspiring speaker I have ever heard is Steve Chalke, Founder of the Oasis Trust . He is the most inspirational person I have ever had the privilege to work with.

If I was alone on a desert island, I would need to have (three luxuries that don’t include family members, pets or friends) with me would be my laptop so that I can write my next book and keep in touch with everyone, my imagination and my memories.

My favourite place in the world is having a cuddle with my wonderful children Josh and Holly. It makes me appreciate just how amazing it is to be a mum and how blessed I am.

The most unusual thing I have ever done is to raise the money to build a hospital in India.

One current goal is to double my business. My husband wants to take a year off work to write a novel and I want to be able to make that happen. I also want to write a series of children’s books.

My definition of success is my life today and loving every minute of it.

The thing I love most about coaching is the difference it makes in people’s lives and receiving those calls or texts or emails from clients saying, ‘Lorraine … you’ll never believe what I’ve done today …’

10 Responses to "Trainer In The Spotlight – Lorraine Thomas"

1 | Malcolm Lugton

April 13th, 2011 at 1:57 pm


Hi Lorraine – thanks for the reminder of the great training day (“How To Excel At Parent Coaching”) that I took part in with you last year… I greatly enjoyed it – and your blog brought back great memories of that day… Just to let you know I have also bought your books – to help me with developing my niche area; parent and supportive family coaching… Good luck with doubling the business!!!!

2 | Ann Skidmore

April 13th, 2011 at 10:44 pm


Hi Lorraine, I remember that article in the Sunday Times and still have a copy of it that i show delegates on the Certificate programme. You are a star and a great inspiration to current Coaching Academy delegates and future ones (every time i show them the newspaper article). Look forward to seeing you again some time this year hopefully!

3 | Judy Reith

April 16th, 2011 at 9:24 pm


Hi Lovely Lorraine
Great to read this and just when i thought i didn’t have time! You have always been a fantastically generous supporter of others who want to be Parent Coaches too. You got me started 6 years ago, and your passion then was infectious and still is! I look forward to watching your star rise as you double your business.. Love Judy xxx

4 | Karen Hope

April 21st, 2011 at 9:59 pm


Hi Lorraine – I really enjoyed your article which, like Malcolm, reminded me of your wonderful training day and our conversation in the car on the way home. Since then, when I have been delivering my basic GROW model training to Teachers and Teaching Assistants, I always use the example of how I was looking for a calmer start to the school and working day for myself and my 7 year old daughter and how the coaching in your workshop led me to the solution that worked for me. Then, once they are given the choice of working on a professional or personal issue, virtually all the participants want to work on a parenting issue! I have been told so many times that they would never have had the confidence to look at what they perceive to be their ‘shortcomings’ in the parenting arena in front of others until I ‘fess up’ about my own – then they all find it such a relief and are amazed at the power of such a simple model and what can be achieved with very little experience and time. This inspires them to want to use and practise it within the context of school, with children, families and colleagues.

Thank you again for being so generous with your knowledge and experience. I have no doubt you’ll double your revenue – probably with those children’s books which I’m very much looking forward to buying.

5 | Harry Singha

April 23rd, 2011 at 12:48 pm


Hey Lorraine

So proud of you, keep doing what you do.


6 | Lorraine Thomas

April 27th, 2011 at 10:38 am


Dear Ann

Thank you so much for your lovely note. I will always remember attending my very first Coaching Academy weekend – and you were the trainer that most inspired me. I watched your practical coaching session and thinking WOW I really want to be able to do that. It was the very first – and most important step. Thank you.

7 | Lorraine Thomas

April 27th, 2011 at 10:41 am


Dear Malcolm

It was fantastic to have your energy and enthusiasm in the room for our Training Day. I am thrilled that are following your heart and developing your niche. I know you will make a difference in many the lives of many families.

Enjoy the adventure!

8 | Lorraine Thomas

April 27th, 2011 at 10:42 am


Dear Judy

Thanks for your lovely note. I know you are passionate about making a difference to parents and their children – and I love your books. Keep up the great work.

9 | Lorraine Thomas

April 27th, 2011 at 10:45 am


Dear Karen

I am so thrilled to hear just how brilliantly you are doing and thank you so much for giving such specific feedback. You are absolutely right – it is the small changes that can make the greatest differences. You have a great way of making people feel at their ease and I am sure that the professionals you work with open up to you in a way that will really help them to move forward with practical strategies. Keep up the good work and hope to see you again soon.

10 | Lorraine Thomas

April 27th, 2011 at 10:46 am


Dear Harry

Thanks for your note. Made me chuckle that you used a ‘P’ word. Will always remember your lovely feedback on my first Parent Coach session and you said that what really struck you was my passion for helping parents. Thank you for your friendship and support.

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