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Maternity and Parental Return to Work Coaching – Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

In this video we explore some of the most frequently asked question that tend to come up when we are talking to both organisations and individuals who are keen to explore this area of coaching for themselves or for their organisations.


What is coaching?

The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as:

“Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership. We all have goals we want to reach, challenges we’re striving to overcome and times when we feel stuck. Partnering with a coach can change your life, setting you on a path to greater personal and professional fulfilment”

Coaching is led by you in that the content of any coaching session is focused on what you want to get out of the session. We aren’t experts in parenting, but we do understand the challenges that many parents face as they navigate the transition to becoming working parents and our goal in any coaching session is to facilitate your thinking so that you can find the best way through – for you.

I want to work on confidence – can you help me?

YES! Confidence has different meanings for everybody. It might be that you would like to work on building your confidence once you are back at work. Or you might want to increase your confidence about leaving your child in childcare whilst you go to work. Work on confidence building can be quite practical or it might be some deeper personal exploration that leads to transformational change.

What topics can I bring?

Anything that is valuable for you. From an ethical point of view, if you wanted to talk about a topic that might be better suited to therapy or if you are looking for advice or guidance, coaching wouldn’t be the best form of support. However, here are some examples of the kinds of topics our clients often bring to their coaching sessions (please note this list is not exhaustive!):

  • Confidence

  • Identity

  • Time management

  • Managing the load at home

  • Guilt

  • Career development/progression

  • Wellbeing

  • Decision making

What’s the difference between coaching and therapy?

To put it simply, therapy tends to be focused on the past and on processing previous experiences. Coaching is focused on the present and your future goals and aspirations. You can find out more on our blog on this topic.

Will you be feeding anything back to my line manager/HR?

Where we offer coaching within organisations this is a question we are often asked. Return to work coaching is slightly different to Executive coaching in this regard as we don’t tend to engage with your line manager to agree goals. It is up to you to share any learnings or insights you feel would be useful to communicate to your line manager, and we’d happily discuss this with you.

Regarding the HR team, where we are coaching a number of parents within an organisation we may at times, (respecting confidentiality) highlight particular themes or areas where the HR team can improve their policies and processes.

How do I know you’re the right coach for me?

We offer an introductory chemistry call so that you can meet us and learn more about how return to work coaching works and determine if it feels like it would be valuable. The quality of the coaching relationship you have with your coach is crucial, so we encourage you to ask yourself questions such as how does it feel to speak with this person? Did we manage to establish a good level of rapport? Would I like to work with this coach? Do I feel excited and supported? Remember it is ok to say no and ask for another coach!

How does the coaching work in practice?

This will depend on what arrangement you, or your organisation has in place with the coaching provider. However, it is mostly likely to be a series of coaching sessions lasting between 60-90 minutes timed to coincide with your return to work taking place over the first few months as you adjust to being a working parent.

What are the benefits of return-to-work coaching?

Our clients tell us that they feel supported and understood at one of the most emotionally challenging times of their life. Coaching offers you a confidential, non-judgemental and safe space for you to focus solely on you. If you’d like to find out more, please take a look at our testimonials.

What qualifies you to be a return-to-work coach?

Coaches don’t always need to have personal experience of the area they are coaching within, but in this case we disagree. We are both mums and have experienced maternity leave and the return to work. We have also worked in HR teams supporting other parents as they adapt to being back at work. It goes without saying that we are qualified and accredited coaches and invest in our own personal development. In our experience, sharing the lived experience that is being a working parent is crucial to our work as return-to-work coaches.

My colleague Sarah Turner and I have been busy creating content highlighting the importance of organisations providing support for working parents. As part of this, we created this video series exploring the entire journey of maternity leave, from before the leave starts, through to preparing to return and then the first few months back at work. If you or your organisation would like to understand more about how to support your employees as they take parental leave, please get in touch.

This blog post is a collaboration between Maternity Coaches Laura Duggal and Sarah Turner. They are working together, sharing their experiences and bringing the best of their joint advice and knowledge to you.

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