This week's Coach in the Spotlight is Belinda van Zyl, who started her coaching journey as a researcher and went on to discover where her passion and values really lie.

Coaches know that aligning your goals and values while challenging your limiting beliefs is the key to successful goal setting and leading a purpose-filled life.

This is exactly what happened to Belinda, who started her coaching journey with research in mind and this led to making one of the bravest and most fulfilling decisions of recent years. 

What inspired you to enrol with The Coaching Academy?

I was on an academic journey having begun a PhD which was considering the research questions ‘Can mental-toughness coaching improve levels of mental-toughness, psychological wellbeing and engagement in social workers?’ At the point of engaging with this research degree, I had limited knowledge of the coaching process and as a researcher, there was little need to know about the practical application of coaching. I was dissatisfied with this notion so I enrolled with The Coaching Academy as their programme considered the GROW model, the model coaches were to use in my research. At the same time, I became a licensed mental-toughness coach, licensed to use the MTQ48 mental-toughness psychometric tool. 

The practical application of coaching hooked me into the world of coaching and following The Coaching Academy introductory course, I knew I wanted to know more about coaching and specifically the art of goal setting. What was the most rewarding part of your training/journey? 

There have been so many rewarding aspects of this journey, but I have narrowed it down to two.

Top on the list were the Accelerator Days as it was engaging, I learned from great facilitators and I also had the opportunity to meet like-minded people - with some of whom I am still in regular contact.

Second, on my list is the peer-to-peer coaching sessions. Who wouldn’t love free coaching? It was great being coached by other trainee coaches as these sessions helped me keep focused and motivated to complete this programme in a timely way. 

How did you fit coach training into your busy life? 

The flexibility of The Coaching Academy’s training programme was perfect for me.

I'm a mom of two kids, I was studying, and still in practice as a social work mentor and university lecturer, so I needed the opportunity to learn and develop my practice after hours and on weekends. This programme was perfect for my busy life.

I worked steadily through the programme, making sure I spaced out the Accelerator Days and assessments whilst also keeping my portfolio updated. I had given myself eighteen months to complete the programme and I was able to do this easily.  

Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills? 

An unexpected bonus of engaging in The Coaching Academy and using the peer-coaching sessions was having the opportunity to really explore my personal longer-term goals, linked to my values.

This led me to make the brave decision to end my research-based PhD and move across to engage in a professional Doctorate in Coaching and Mentoring. I have now almost completed my first year of this five-year taught doctorate and I'm loving it. I have The Coaching Academy to indirectly thank for this change in direction.  

This new direction has allowed me to become more immersed in various coaching philosophies and approaches. Most recently I have been tasked with developing my own coaching model and although this has been hard work, I have loved the process. 

I continue to use my coaching skills as a freelance mentor and coach to social workers. I am employed by one university, several local authorities and a hospice. Covid-19 has meant I am busier than ever but the advantage of lockdown, for me, has meant the public sector has become willing to use electronic platforms to allow me to hold virtual reflective workshops, where I can use my coaching skills daily.  

What is your coaching niche?

Presently I am using all I have learnt from The Coaching Academy and integrating this with my new learning from the doctorate programme.

I now have a business page and have started working with those who have experienced difficult life events, a ‘disorientating dilemma’, leading them to wish to resolve some meaningful existential questions.

This has been a natural niche for me because I have ten years’ experience working as a bereavement volunteer for a national charity, so loss, anxiety and uncertainty are all emotions I am comfortable holding when someone is experiencing a transition in life, whether that transition has been caused through death, loss of a job, relationship loss, loss of one’s health, or loss of one’s life purpose.  

This niche has led me to be invited to write a small chapter in a book, so this is my next little project. 

What are your top tips for those studying or considering to study with TCA?

For those wishing to become a professional coach, my advice is to find a course that provides a good balance between the practical application and theoretical underpinning of that coaching approach. 

For those currently involved in The Coaching Academy training, invest time in this journey and you can’t go wrong.

I believe this course is an excellent opportunity to raise self-awareness and with raised self-awareness who knows where this journey will lead? For me, it led to making a brave decision but one of the best and most fulfilling decisions I have made in recent years.  


Change lives through Life Coaching

Take your first step towards a rewarding & fulfilling Coaching career, just like Belinda did, with our Introduction to Life Coaching online training.

If you would like to know a little more about what Coaching is and how it can benefit you and the lives of others, or if you feel that Coaching could be a potential full or part-time opportunity for you, join us in this interactive training. Choose from available dates here.



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