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Christopher J. Coulson, MAHPP
Eating Disorders Coach

Communications technology has made it possible to sustain valuable eating disorders coaching relationships in a variety of different ways. I currently focus only on telephone and email. However, this page examines all the options available to you.

Historically, it has been possible construct a working arrangement based on any one or any combination of format(s). The following sections review their pros and cons:


In-person encounters are the traditional mode of working and have a great deal to recommend them. Working face-to-face reminds us that our words are only one aspect of our communication system: we also 'speak' with our clothes and our body language. The physicality of a face-to-face encounter also generates dynamics that mirror those of our encounters outside the coaching relationship. This can open up valuable avenues for exploration. Also, we have a natural and appropriate human need to know with whom we are talking.

The disadvantages of face-to-face working are predominantly practical. A fifty-minute session is going to call for at least a two-hour interruption in your day. The need to be relatively near their office significantly reduces your choice of practitioner. Also, if you live in a small place there's a real risk that you will continually be meeting your coach or therapist in the street, or that you will both be part of the same social group. This is not so important in a coaching relationship but can have a significant impact on counseling and psychotherapy.


Telephone with/without email

I was dubious about the value of working over the telephone until I felt compelled to try it for myself. My wife and I had moved to a rural part of England and were unable to find the right practitioners for ourselves. In desperation - or so it felt - we started working over the 'phone with known practitioners in the USA. We quickly discovered the main advantages of working over the telephone, or with a combination of telephone and email: quality, convenience, cost and confidentiality.

  • Quality, because you can pick the collaborator who is right for you rather than the one who is conveniently located.
  • Convenience, because you can speak to them at times that do not require you to travel, nor do you have to ready yourself for a visit.
  • Cost, because you save on travel costs.
  • Confidentiality, because of the relative anonymity of electronic relationships. I find that clients working over the telephone are less inhibited and readier to focus on the important but perhaps embarrassing aspects of their lives that really need attention. Or, they will overcome any initial and understandable shyness by using email to open a difficult subject. This additional candor makes the work much more productive. Many clients report being able to be more assertive over the 'phone.

In terms of the work itself, the obvious disadvantage of teleworking is that we do not know what we each look like, and we miss the opportunity to exercise the physical cues that tell us so much about each other. One result of this is that it can take a bit longer to build a comfortable and confidential rapport.

Experience shows, however, that it is only a matter of time before that level of comfort is achieved.

The best protection for you as a prospective client is to know as much as possible about your choice of practitioner. They should give you their address and telephone number and also a professional association or some other reputable third party that you can contact to confirm their standing. Do not anticipate talking with clients, however. All personal development work should be subject to full confidentiality on the practitioner's part.



Email can be a powerful adjunct to the telephone. It is ideal for those who want to be able to dash off a response to an earlier telephone or face-to-face session. It might be used to ask for a clarification or for a word of support or suggestion before starting a challenging task. As I indicated earlier, it is also very useful for broaching difficult topics.

Eating disorders coaching often includes a large email component. However, I rarely work via email alone except with the most diffident clients. Email alone is a slow and not very interactive means of communication. It is therefore not very cost-effective. It is very useful, however, for making the initial contact and for asking questions, especially when gathering evaluation data.



No matter which mode of working you prefer, follow the same procedures to ensure you find the best practitioner to match your unique needs. No two of us are alike. The power and energy generated in one partnership can be very different from another. As my wife and I discovered, working over the telephone with the 'right' practitioner is a superior solution to working with a compromise choice who happens to be conveniently located.

To discuss which format of relationship might be most valuable for you, schedule a free exploratory 'phone discussion. Email me, or 'phone me toll-free from the USA or the UK. My contact details are below:

Christopher J. Coulson


Toll-free (N. America): 1-866-761-1392
Freephone (UK): 0800-949-6030
Worldwide: +44-(0)1202-540732

Mailing Address:

89 Commercial Rd Ste: 153
Bournemouth, BH2 5RR, UK

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