Illumineering Coaching

The Art of Psychotherapeutic Coaching

I'll be presenting my psychotherapeutic coaching method, Illumineering, 12/8 at the 12/5-11 Psychology of Health, Immunity and Disease Conference in Hilton Head, South Carolina. I'll be speaking with Joan Borysenko, Bruce Lipton, David Whyte, Ronald Siegel, and many more great presenters. Click here for more info.

Becoming Who You Already Are

Each of us comes into the world as a whole, integrated human being. We’re born with innate personality traits, natural strengths and talents, and tremendous potential. Growing up, we respond to our life conditioning by adopting habitual roles, beliefs, and behaviors that often diminish our strengths and potential. These patterns follow us into adulthood, and they shape our feelings about ourselves, our relationships, our personal lives, and our careers. In my Illumineering Coaching work—be it with individuals, couples, families, executives, or management teams—my fundamental mission is to help people figure out what’s keeping a lid on their potential, where it came from, and how to remove it. This involves identifying their innate personality traits, strengths, and potential—their Authentic Self—and the habitual role, beliefs, and behaviors of their Conditioned Self. We assess the disparity between the two selves, uncover their self-defeating patterns, and determine where they came from.    

The next step is developing strategies for change. This entails learning how to think and act by deliberation instead of by default. Living by deliberation means intentionally aligning your thoughts, behaviors, and choices with who you really are and the outcomes you’re trying to achieve. When you’re living by default, you’re reacting on autopilot from old, conditioned patterns. And while those patterns may have made sense when you were little, they’re usually not very effective in producing the results you want as an adult.    

Letting your Conditioned Self run your life is like continuously swimming upstream. It depletes your energy, stifles your strengths, keeps you settling for less than what you’re capable of creating, and undermines your relationships. Over time, the stress it produces can even weaken your immune system and compromise your physical health.

Shedding the shackles of your life conditioning and liberating who you already are will change your life. Instead of your energy being consumed by trying to be perfect, berating yourself, living up to other’s expectations, avoiding failure, dealing with conflict, numbing your pain, or managing fear, it’s available to discover what you like, take new risks, pursue your dreams, share positive relationships, and create the personal and professional life to which you aspire.       

This type of personal and professional development work—delving into the roots of limiting patterns and taking action to produce tangible, lasting change—can be challenging, uncomfortable, or even painful for some people. But the 25 years that I’ve been doing this work—and the transformative results I’ve seen over and over again—has taught me two very important things: 1) the only way out is through, and 2) the journey is well-worth the ride.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG, OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement at the end of the article:

© 2011 Lauren Mackler

Lauren Mackler is a world-renowned coach, host of the LIFE KEYS radio show, and author of the international bestseller, Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life.

Live Boldly with Lauren Mackler

Bestselling author and world-renowned coach, Lauren Mackler, is interviewed by CNN and talks about her journey starting as a fourteen year-old runaway, becoming a recording artist with the group Tuxedo Junction, then leaving the music business in 1982 to become one of the world’s leading authorities in personal and professional development.

Lauren Mackler - Living an Extraordinary Life

In this inspiring keynote presentation, Living an Extraordinary Life, renowned coach, radio show host, and bestselling author of Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life, Lauren Mackler, talks about the hidden factors that keep a lid on your potential, and practical tools for liberating your innate potential and becoming the person you were born to be.

The Critical Factors for Success: Interview with Lauren Mackler

Lauren Mackler, bestselling author, renowned coach, and relationship expert, talks about the most critical factors in achieving success. Lauren Mackler is one of the foremost visionaries in the personal and professional development field today. She has risen to international prominence as the creator of Illumineering, a groundbreaking coaching method that integrates family systems work, psychodynamic psychology, and coaching to help people free themselves from the shackles of their life conditioning, and create the personal and professional lives to which they aspire.

Illumineer Your Life!


Illumineering™ is a method I developed from my work as a mind-body psychotherapist and coach. It’s a unique integration of what I’ve found to be the three most effective modalities for helping people break free of self-defeating patterns, and create the personal and professional lives they want. It can be used in a variety of settings by professionals certified in the Illumineering™ method, including psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and life, career, relationship, and executive coaches.

Illumineering™ is based on the premise that when we're born, we are whole, integrated human beings with tremendous potential. Growing up, we respond to our life conditioning by adopting habitual thought and behavior patterns, many of which erode our innate wholeness. We carry these patterns into adulthood, and they shape our feelings about ourselves, our relationships, our personal lives, and our careers. Illumineering™ helps people break free of the shackles of their life conditioning, reclaim their innate wholeness, and create the lives to which they aspire.

The three modalities that comprise the Illumineering™ method are family systems work (to identify client blocks and their origins), psychodynamic psychology (to access limiting beliefs and habitual behaviors rooted in the subconscious), and coaching (to identify and implement action-based strategies to override self-defeating patterns, develop a new default operating system, and achieve transformational change).

In my own coaching practice, I offer four types of Illumineering™ Coaching Programs. Below is a description of the programs and the people for whom they’re appropriate.

Illumineering™ Life Coaching: for individuals looking to achieve specific personal goals, address life challenges or transitions, create healthier relationships, or move to the next level of success in their lives.

Illumineering™ Career Coaching: for people in professional transition who want to use their passions, skills, and experience in a new position, career, or business—or entrepreneurs who want to take an existing business to the next level of success.

Illumineering™ Relationship Coaching: for singles seeking a healthy and fulfilling relationship, couples looking to create a more joyful and fulfilling partnership, family members experiencing relationship challenges, or business partners facing interpersonal issues.

Illumineering™ Executive Coaching: for business leaders looking to enhance their leadership skills, achieve new goals in their careers or organizations, or address specific performance challenges.

I’m often asked how Illumineering™ differs from traditional psychotherapy or other coaching methods. Psychotherapy is generally more focused on the present and past, and most practitioners use talk-therapy to help clients process their feelings, or cognitive-behavioral approaches to help them think and behave differently.  Coaching is typically more future-oriented, with a focus on identifying client goals and the steps needed to achieve them. Illumineering™ integrates family systems work, psychodynamic psychology, and coaching to identify client blocks at their deepest level, and develop and implement action-based strategies to override these barriers and achieve the results they seek. 

When hiring a coach, it’s good to inquire about their training, methodology, and experience. For a check list of what to look for, refer to my article, Tips for Hiring the Right Coach.      © 2009 Lauren Mackler

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG, OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement at the end of the article:   © 2009 Lauren Mackler

Lauren Mackler is a coach, psychotherapist, and host of the Life Keys radio show on She’s the author of the international bestseller, Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life. Sign up for her free Live Boldly newsletter at

Lauren's Keynote at International Coach Federation - 11/9/09

iStock_000005539091SmallWhat would you do if you knew you could not fail—if you were free from the fears, limiting beliefs, and habitual behaviors that keep you stuck? In this life-changing presentation, coach and bestselling author, Lauren Mackler, presents her groundbreaking Illumineering Coaching method that has helped thousands of people uncover the hidden drivers that keep them from living the lives to which they aspire. Topics include: How our life conditioning impacts our adult lives The core beliefs, roles, and habitual behaviors of the Conditioned Self How to reclaim our “lost parts” and innate wholeness The hidden drivers of fear and how to override them How to “live deliberately” and align our actions with our desired results 

To register for this event click here.

When: Monday, November 9, 2009   3:30 PM- 8:30 PM

Schedule of Events:

Registration: 5:30-6:00 PM Dinner and Announcements: 6:00-6:45 PM Lauren Mackler: 6:45-8:30 PM

ICF Approved CCEUs: 2.0 Credits Personal Development 1.0 Core Competencies 1.0

The Three Keys to Success

Close-up of a Key: photo - Intense Blue backgroundMany people fail to achieve their goals because they never learned the skills that produce success. No one ever taught them how to set clear goals, create effective action plans, or sustain their motivation. Whether you want to become a better leader, create a more fulfilling career, or bring greater balance into your life, there are three keys to achieving any type of goal: focus, strategy, and commitment.

Focus. A teacher of mine once said, “Where you focus is where you go.” Without a clear picture of what you want, you’re at the mercy of whatever life brings your way—and you might not like what you’re getting. To find your focus, ask yourself, “What would I do, be, or experience if I knew I would not fail?” Notice the things you feel passionate about or that you wish you could change. Finding your focus doesn’t have to involve taking a major leap over your comfort zone. It might be shorter-term goals like eating fresh vegetables everyday, or bigger goals that require a longer time span, such as completing a graduate degree or starting your own business.

Tree lined street

Strategy. Your strategy is the road map for bringing your goals to fruition. It involves identifying the steps needed to accomplish your goal, and the resources that can help you achieve it. Ask yourself, “What are the steps I need to take to achieve this goal?” Be careful not to overwhelm yourself by taking on too much at once. Start with three to six action steps for each goal. Once your initial action steps are completed, identify the next three to six action steps, continuing this process until your goal is achieved. It’s also good to set a clear timeline for each action step and put them into your daily or weekly calendar.

Woman SmilingCommitment. Being committed to your goals means honoring your agreements to yourself.  To be committed, you have to feel deserving of what you want to achieve, and you have to love yourself. After all, you’re not going to feel compelled to invest your time and energy in someone you don’t like very much. This is why so many people lose their motivation to follow through on their goals. Instead of extending patience and compassion toward themselves, they berate and judge themselves—further eroding their sense of worthiness. If you have a hard time keeping your commitments to yourself due to low self-esteem, developing a more loving relationship with yourself is a great first goal on which to focus.

These three keys are important tools for “living deliberately”—aligning your thoughts and actions with the results you want to have. As you start living more deliberately, recognize that you’ll slip into old, self-defeating patterns from time to time. Being committed doesn’t mean doing this process perfectly or following through on your action steps 100 percent of the time. It means acknowledging when you do slip up, being compassionate with yourself when you do, then gently moving yourself back on-course.  

Lauren’s keynote presentation, Live Boldly: Unleashing Your Potential in Life, Work, & Relationships uncovers the hidden drivers that keep people stuck in unsatisfying careers, relationships, and life circumstances. This is one of several events designed to help people live a life that’s aligned with who they are, and the life vision to which they aspire. Click here for more information on my workshops.

© 2009 Lauren Mackler all rights reserved

This article also appeared on The Huffington Post.

Tips for Hiring the Right Coach

There are no legal requirements for becoming a life, career, or executive coach, so it’s important to interview potential coaches about their qualifications. Inquire about their training, how long they’ve been in practice, their client results, and people you can contact who have used their services. Do your due diligence to ensure they have the qualifications to provide the services you need. Below is an overview of the qualities and expertise of a good coach, which you can use when interviewing potential coaches.Stones kern Effective methodology and processes. Ad-hoc and unstructured coaching are less effective than a structured program. Ask about their coaching method and processes, their strategies for helping clients clarify and achieve their goals, how much time it requires, and what their fees and payment policies are.

Expertise in psychology and human behavior. Personal-development work, life and career transitions, or meeting professional demands can take you to the edge of your comfort zone, triggering fears of failure, insecurity, or habitual, self-sabotaging behaviors. Life, career, and executive coaches with a background in psychology have the leading edge, as they can help you address your fears and self-defeating patterns at the root level, and change limiting patterns that can sabotage your success.

TrustA supportive and comfortable environment. A good coach is compassionate, establishes trust, maintains confidentiality, and creates an environment in which you feel supported. Whether you’re doing phone or in-person coaching, notice how comfortable you are, and whether the person feels like someone you can trust.      

Exceptional problem-solving, goal setting, and organizational skills. The bigger the coach’s “tool kit”, the better able they’ll be to facilitate effective coaching sessions. Ask how they go about problem-solving and goal-setting, and notice how organized they appear to be. The more organized they are, the more ground you can cover in each session.

Fosters client accountability. Continuity, self-discipline, and follow through are critical factors for success—things that many people find difficult to develop or maintain. Find out what methods they use to help clients stay motivated, and how they get clients who’ve become discouraged or unfocused back on track.

In addition to the qualities and expertise listed above, below are added skills and expertise for specific types of coaching.

Career Coaching

Proven experience in the career transition field. This is a must-have for people making a career change or searching for a new job. Ask career coaches about their methodology for identifying a job or career that’s the best fit, and about their expertise in job sourcing, resumes and cover letters, self-marketing strategies, networking, interviewing, and salary negotiation.

Smiling Business WomanEntrepreneurial and business planning skills: This is critical if you’re considering starting your own business. Find a career coach with a successful track record not only in helping clients identify a new business idea, but also in turning that idea into a business.    

A resourceful, innovative, and strategic thinker: To stand out from the competition, you have to think and do things differently than everyone else. Ask prospective career coaches for specific examples of strategies they’ve developed to help clients differentiate themselves, and how those strategies have helped clients achieve their desired results.  

Executive Coaching

Client Confidentiality: If your company is hiring an executive coach to work with you, ask how confidentiality issues will be handled. The more authentic you are the better results you’ll achieve in your coaching work. However, you need to feel confident that the coach can effectively balance honoring your confidentiality with meeting your company’s expectations for coaching results.

Business and Leadership Expertise: In addition to strategic business and leadership expertise, the best executive coaches have real-world corporate experience, giving them a deeper understanding of the complex challenges and demands of the executive role.  

Life Coaching

Expertise in psychology and human behavior: While it’s an added plus to find a career or executive coach with a background in psychology, it’s a must-have for life coaching. Without an in-depth understanding of what drives human behavior—and how to change self-defeating patterns that are often rooted in the subconscious—it’s very difficult to help clients achieve transformational and lasting change.New brunch on the tree

© 2009 Lauren Mackler all rights reserved

Life, career, and relationship coach Lauren Mackler is the author of the international bestseller, Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life and host of the weekly Life Keys radio show on She is the creator of Illumineering™, a groundbreaking method integrating family systems work, psychodynamic psychology, and coaching to help people free themselves from the shackles of their life conditioning, and create the personal lives, careers, and relationships to which they aspire. Visit Lauren’s website at

Becoming Who You Were Born to Be

In this video, coach and bestselling author Lauren Mackler talks about how the thought and behavior patterns of our life conditioning erodes our innate wholeness and keeps us from realizing our potential as adults. She reveals how to reclaim your innate wholeness and liberate your potential to become the person you were born to be.

Coaching 101

When I started my coaching business in 2001, most people associated the word "coach" with someone who led an athletic team or worked as an exercise trainer. Today, while most people have heard of a life, executive, or career coach, there remains much confusion about what coaching is, how it differs from psychotherapy, and the circumstances in which coaching can be a valuable resource.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is for people who want to improve their personal and/or professional lives, or achieve specific goals such as making a career change, improving business results, creating healthier relationships, or gaining greater self-mastery. Although there are no legal requirements for becoming a coach, the necessary skills are similar to those of a psychotherapist, with additional competencies determined by the specific type of coaching. However, coaching differs from therapy in that it generally focuses more on the present and future than on the past, and is typically more focused on specific goals and results. Below is a list of the most common types of coaching, and the indicators for each type:

Career Coaching: for people in professional transition or who are looking to use their passions, skills, and experience to create a more fulfilling and rewarding career.

Executive Coaching: for business professionals seeking to enhance their leadership skills, accomplish specific business goals, or address performance issues and challenges.

Life Coaching: for individuals seeking to master specific life challenges, or move to the next level of success in one or more areas of their personal and/or professional lives.

Relationship Coaching: for individuals, couples, family members, business partners, or co-workers seeking to clarify the attributes of their ideal relationship(s), assess relationship strengths, identify and resolve points of interpersonal conflict, and bring their ideal personal and professional relationship(s) to reality.

Choosing a Coach

When choosing a coach, it's important to inquire about the coach's training, credentials, and methodology. When you're interviewing a prospective coach, here are some questions you can ask:

Qualifications: What are your credentials? What is your training and professional background? Check to be sure the person has the training, background, and expertise needed to facilitate the specific type of coaching you're seeking.

Experience: How long have you been in practice? What's the primary focus of your work? What is your experience and success in working with the types of issues and/or goals I want to address? Do you have some clients I can speak to, who can tell me about the results of their coaching work? Approach: What's your approach or methodology? What does the process involve and how much time does it typically take? Practical Information: How long does each session last? How frequently do we meet? What are your charges and payment policies?

Most importantly, you're looking for someone who is supportive, compassionate, and non-judgmental. During your interview, look for someone who is 100 percent present, and focused on you and your objectives. Red flags include brusqueness, inflexibility, and a sense of distance. This must be someone you can trust fully. Ask yourself: Do I feel at ease with this person? Will I feel free to disclose personal information? Is this someone who is engaging with me in a caring and supportive way? If not, don't hesitate to find someone else.