By Daniel J. Vance
Kim Fletcher doesn't coach basketball or lacrosse players. She coaches people with disabilities playing the game of life.
"I've had a lifelong passion for working alongside people with disabilities," said Fletcher, 39, of Charlotte, North Carolina. "As a life coach, my specialization is not only coaching them, but also coaching able-bodied or disabled people desiring to impact people with disabilities. It's a life passion for me to provide this service."
A "life coach" in general partners with people to help them discover and reach their potential. It's a relatively new field. As for Fletcher, she thinks she could be the only professional in the nation specializing in coaching people with disabilities.
She is no novice. Fletcher practiced physical therapy sixteen years at a private North Carolina hospital and taught physical therapy seven years at Caldwell Community College. She is a member of the International Coach Federation. Her coaching meshes well with her position as director of the nonprofit organization Life Compass, which, along with other services, provides partial scholarships to people with disabilities to use her life coaching.
Coaching is not like counseling. "Typically, when a person goes to a counselor, they are in crisis and usually have some issues that need resolving," said Fletcher. "Rather than resolving issues, coaching is focused more on developing goals and strategies to help a person move forward personally or professionally." In other words, it's proactive rather than reactive.
As a coach, she unconditionally supports and challenges her clients with disabilities.
"Besides adults, I've coached children with disabilities to help them develop a stronger sense of self-worth, to improve their communication skills at home or school and to help them understand their unique gifts," said Fletcher.
Currently, she has ten clients hiring her month by month. "People generally use a life coach six to eighteen months," she said. "It's up to the individual. They stay with it as long as they feel like it's doing them some good. Often they come in (to the coaching relationship) with one goal, and that may lead to another goal and they want to continue on."
Fletcher knows coaching firsthand: she has her own personal coach and claims coaching has been one of her best investments.
She added, "Many people don't have that one person in life who will unconditionally champion for them. And it's great to have that one person."