Coach or Friend? Why You May Need Both in Your Life

A client sat with me seeking guidance recently. Feeling lost and overwhelmed, she knew she needed a change in her life, but didn’t know what that meant for her. While she has friends, many of them were walking through their own challenges and she felt guilty going to them for support.

After this conversation, I began thinking about coaching and friendship - the similarities and differences. I mean, why pay a coach when you can talk with a friend for free?

Nurse Coaching is a partnership between a nurse and client to facilitate transformation and healing.  Transformations can be major like radical weight loss, changing career direction, starting a family, or leaving a toxic marriage. Seemingly minor changes such as starting a side hustle, committing to a new workout routine, or stepping out of your comfort zone and attending a book club can also be transformational.  Massive shifts in awareness and clarity can occur in a one-hour conversation, or they may come in a slow, deliberate way as in the deeply transformative process of redefining yourself professionally.

Can we make these shifts and changes in our lives without professional support and guidance?  

Of course.

We can lean into our communities, our friends, our partners, and our colleagues. We can read articles, sign up for online courses, and join Facebook groups. In fact, I created The Well Woman Collective, a safe community for women co-creating radical self-care, because healing and transformation happens when we feel supported and connected.

Our friends often relate to us from where they are. The feeling that we’re not the only one experiencing a certain struggle or challenge is powerful and healing. Depending on the quality of our friendships, we might also stay stuck in old, limiting patterns of thinking and behaving in certain relationships.

However, even the most supportive friendships are different than a coaching relationship. So let’s explore.

Coaching accelerates your process with a new perspective centered around your deepest truths.

Investing in yourself by working with a coach can accelerate your entire process by offering new beliefs, behaviors, and accountability that can propel you upward in a way that navigating these things on your own cannot. You may discover insights more quickly than you would on your own or in your current relationships.

In the words of one client:

When I’ve been in therapy in the past, it’s good to have someone hear your feelings and there’s some clarity that comes with it, but nothing as quickly as when I was coached with you. That clarity has come much quicker and more easily. And it comes from me- it’s you bringing it out of me. For me, it’s been so helpful, so thank you.

Agreements vs. Expectations

In a coaching relationship, we sign an Agreement that includes topics such as confidentiality, boundaries, courage, and power. When is the last time you set boundaries and agreements out of the gate in your new and old friendships? Clear agreements (versus expectations) allow honest communication and the freedom to learn and grow within a coaching relationship. And as the brilliant Brené Brown says, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.”

Here to serve not to please

As Nurse Coaches, we agree to speak honestly and directly so as to challenge beliefs and perceptions that may be holding you back. Our aim is not to “please” you, but rather to serve you in a powerful way and call you higher into more of what you want. In friendships, we may be less inclined to challenge each other’s beliefs.

Commitment with a specific purpose

Working with a Nurse Coach has the potential to transform all of your relationships, most importantly, your relationship with yourself. In a coaching relationship, whether for 6 weeks or 6 months, there is a defined period of time with a clear purpose. While that purpose completely varies from person to person, the intention is always in support of your healing and transformation. As a client, you don’t need to worry about making sure you’re not dominating the conversation with your coach. You are the conversation. Your life, your desires, your challenges, your beliefs, your dreams. You. And that’s not vain or selfish when our intention is to unlock your highest potential and purpose.

My own discoveries and experiences as a Nurse Coach for the last 8 years have been transformational. The presence, safe space, and positive beliefs we hold for our clients translate into all areas of life. My role as a coach actually calls me higher in all of my other roles as a friend, a wife, a mother, and a business owner. And I can “show up” in a powerful way in any role, as long as I’m clear about my intention.

I hope you have friendships that lift you up, inspire you, and help you feel connected and loved. I hope you will also consider coaching as a path towards your personal transformation that brings greater meaning and depth to all of your relationships.


Brandie Mitchell, RN, LMT

Brandie is a Registered Nurse, Certified Nurse Coach and Licensed Massage Therapist in Texas.

Interested in learning more about working with a Certified Nurse Coach? Let’s Connect!