What is Parent Coaching?

Parent coaching is when one or both parents (or any primary caregiver) meet with a professional coach in an effort to foster goal achievement related to parenting. In this non-judgmental setting, the coach can use education and evidence-based strategy to navigate familial issues related to children. It is beneficial to parents who need assistance to increase family functioning and improve communication.

Parent coaching is useful for any parent or caregiver who needs support to navigate their child’s mental health and developmental needs. It can occur in-person, online, or over the phone, including one or both parents (separately or together). During a session, the professional coach provides education about the child’s needs, offers strategies and support, and fosters communication and coping skills.

Parent coaching is directive and brief with mutually agreed upon goals. In some cases, the coach can connect parents with support groups or resources for long-term assistance. In general, this form of coaching carries an implicit larger goal of re-establishing positive family relationships achieved through the application of smaller goals like improving communication, providing education, improving parenting strategies, fostering confidence and self-efficacy, developing solution-focused thinking, and improving parenting skills.

What Can Parent Coaching Help With?

Parent coaching can help with a multitude of issues including transitions and changes.  Goals are tailored for the individual family and can be short term fast solutions, or can be broad, person-centered, and slightly more long-term in nature.

Parent coaching can help with:

  • Transition issues (marriage, death, adoption, etc.) or familial changes
  • General behavioral issues and discipline
  • Adaptive Communication
  • Family Balance and Organization
  • Transitional Milestones for students
  • Confidence, Study skills, Personal Organization for Students
  • LGBTQ support
  • New parents
  • Screen time issues

When families are dealing with systemic issues, it is important to seek a more appropriate therapeutic approach such as family systems therapy. Similarly, if couples are having issues navigating their marriage or parallel parenting, it is important that they seek a family mediator or couples counselor depending on their goals.

Parent Coaching Techniques & Models

Some of the most well-known models of parent coaching include the Hanen Centre model, the Gestalt parent coaching model, and the Parent Coaching Institute model (PCI).  Other models include parent management training (PMT), parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT), positive parenting program (PPP), and behavioral and emotional skill training (BEST).  Any parent interested in learning more should consult a certified Youth Parent and Family Coach.

Hanen Centre Model

The Hanen Centre model is clinically-based and places an emphasis on the importance of familial and parental engagement in efforts of perpetuating ultimate success. It has identified the most effective components of parent coaching and compiled them into a four step model.

These four steps include:

  • Prepare the parent to learn: The professional introduces new material to the parent and may provide additional resources for preliminary familiarization.
  • Show and describe the new strategy: The professional introduces the intervention or strategy to the parent. They will also discuss and model the benefits.
  • Support the parent: The professional offers positive encouragement, feedback, and support to promote optimal engagement and success.
  • Collaborate with the parent to plan next steps: The professional works with the family to devise a plan for generalization of the strategies in their everyday life.

Gestalt Parent Coaching (GPC) Model

The Gestalt parent coaching (GPC) model is rooted in Gestalt therapy, an approach developed in the 1940s – 1950s. It relies on the principals of the client’s current experience, the therapeutic alliance, and social and environmental factors that influence the individual’s behavior and ability to self-regulate. The GPC model helps parents become major influencers of positive change, providing a safe space to explore and change maladaptive behaviors and improve the overall function of the family.

Parent Coaching Institute (PCI) Model

The Parent Coaching Institute (PCI) was founded in 2000 by Gloria DeGaetano whose mission is to empower parents to make decisions in support of their children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. She devised a 4-component model as part of her educational curriculum for parent coaches.

This four-part model includes:

  • Parenting as a living system: Parents and children are viewed as changing and growing beings with different strengths and capacities that shape their relationships. Understanding these relationships within the living system is the key to positive change.
  • The functional ecology of parenting: Understanding parental decision-making within their socio-economic and ecological system.
  • Brain-compatible parenting: Coaching with the understanding that each individual develops with unique needs and on their own timeline.
  • Appreciative inquiry: Utilizing strengths-based language and instilling hope and positivity in parents and families.

What to Expect at Your First Session

Parent coaching sessions can last anywhere between 15-60 minutes. Typically, you will discuss parent strategies, adaptive communication, education, intervention, and support. Parents will spend the initial session with their coach gathering information and goal-setting based on family needs.

Is Parent Coaching Effective?

Multiple studies determine that parent coaching has a positive influence in the efficacy of treatment outcomes for children.  From a systemic lens, any parent who wishes to learn helpful strategies to support their child could benefit from parent coaching.

How Is Coaching Different Than Counseling, Consulting and Mentoring?

Parent coaching is a strengths-based approach to parental education and empowerment.  Unlike counseling, which focuses on looking into the past and analyzing its effect, coaching focuses on where you are today and creating a path to where you want to be in the future.

Coaching is set apart by the way a coach approaches a conversation with a client. Coaches do not teach, but help you through a process of discovery by using active listening skills, asking powerful questions, expanding thought processes, identifying limited beliefs, designing action steps and following up.  Mentoring and Consulting also can be used to make life changes, however, those methods focus on analyzing problems and giving advice and training to make those changes instead of having the individual generate their own solutions.

  • Coaches don’t talk, they listen.
  • Coaches don’t give information, they ask questions.
  • Coaches don’t offer ideas, they generate ideas from clients.
  • Coaches don’t share their story, they tap into the client’s experience.
  • Coaches don’t present solutions, they expand the client’s thinking.
  • Coaches don’t give recommendations, they empower clients to choose.


Asking questions is one of the most powerful ways someone discovers what is inside of them. And studies show when you make a decision for yourself, you will stick to it better than if someone told you what to do.


Is Parent Coaching for You?

Parent coaching fosters support, understanding, and growth to decrease child issues and improve overall family function. If you’re dealing with parental issues, you’re not alone.  Schedule your “Create Your Inspired Family” Discovery Session to learn more.