'Watching People Grow Into Their Best Selves': Advancing Family Coaching & Education

Family Science Impact: Q&A with NCFR Member Lisa Krause, M.A., CFLE
/ NCFR Report, Winter 2022

Family Science Impact
highlights how NCFR members are making a difference through their Family Science career and showcases their career journeys. See more about the many careers and professions of Family Science.

Lisa Krause
Lisa Krause, M.A., CFLE

Name: Lisa Krause, M.A., CFLE

Current Job Titles:
—Family Coach
—Contracted Faculty of Practice, Concordia University

Tell us a bit about your current work and why it’s important.

Coaching helps people grow and become empowered. One of the things I appreciate the most about my certification in Family Life Education (CFLE) is I get to do many things. I am a contracted faculty at Concordia University, St. Paul in Minnesota, where I coordinate the Family and Parent Coaching program, and I run Parent Coach Connection, which connects and supports family coaches wanting to grow their businesses and coaching skills. I also do direct work with parents. The common thread that runs through these roles is that I get to advance family coaching and education, watching people grow into their best selves.

What was your path to your current role? What shaped or influenced that path?

My journey is not what I imagined as an undergraduate, but it is better than I could have hoped. The short answer is that I had protective factors that fostered resilience as I moved through challenging times. I wanted to give back and hoped I could use my life experience and pay it forward.

Like many in the helping professions, I wanted to help by fixing problems. I thought this meant giving information and direct teaching. Thanks to wonderful mentors and facilitators like Jean Illsley Clarke and Carole Gesme, I learned that a more effective way to help others is to provide a safe space for them to feel, think, grow, and focus on their strengths. There is magic in trusting people to be responsible for themselves and joy in empowering others. I am grateful to carry their legacy through my Parent Coach Connection business.

How do you use Family Science or Family Life Education knowledge or skills in your current work?

My mentor, Dr. Michael Walcheski, reminds me that it is essential to define our field clearly and to articulate how it is separate from and complimentary to other areas of study.

That guidance makes this a two-part answer: It is about theory and practice.

One of my first coaching contracts was under a grant to provide parent coaching in a juvenile diabetes clinic at a large children’s hospital. I was a part of an excellent team of doctors, diabetes educators, social workers, and psychologists providing wrap-around services, each performing different roles. The primary focus of the doctors and diabetes educators was the child’s medical well-being. The psychologist’s role was to improve the child’s mental health. The social worker helped make sure the family had the community and other supports they needed and would triage the situation and refer families to the psychologist or the parenting coach depending on needs. My role was to provide support and education to the parents and to support the family.

Some of the topics I covered through coaching and education were:

  • Co-parenting
  • Sensitive and responsive caregiving
  • Siblings’ relationships
  • Helping families build on family strengths
  • How to navigate care and safety without overindulging
  • Work–life balance
  • Balancing nurture and structure
  • Healthy communication

This position helped me see the importance of a good grounding in the 10 Content Areas of Family Life Education and family theories. It helped me define my professional role.

My current contract with Lakes Center for Youth and Families is under a grant to provide parent education/coaching to parents whose teens are involved in truancy court. Again, I am part of a team to provide wrap-around services. In this position, I’m exploring how my training in Family Life Education and coaching methodology — the “how we do” family education — comes together.

What I pull in from my CFLE training is:

  • Needs assessments
  • Program development and evaluation
  • Facilitation skills
  • Coaching skills
  • Marketing the program

I was hired to teach a designated parent education program and was granted permission to shape the program and move to a coaching model. What I am learning in the process is the value of being flexible and skilled in many approaches to adult education, including coaching, facilitation, and direct teaching. Some parents benefit more from classroom and group education. Others find a lot of value in one-on-one coaching. It is also essential to be mindful of resources. From a cost and time perspective, group education/coaching can make better use of limited resources than one-on-one coaching.

What is most rewarding or makes you proudest about the impact of your work?

I believe that as Family Life Educators and Coaches, we make a difference. One of the greatest compliments I can get is when a parent’s face lights up, and they say, “I know what to do. I figured it out.” It is truly exciting.

I know I can only reach so many families as one coach. I am also grateful to carry on the legacy of my great mentors through my work at Concordia and Parent Coach Connection, by supporting and developing professionals as they grow their coaching toolboxes of both theories and practice.

What do you wish you would have known sooner along your education or career path?

Enjoy the journey. Being a CFLE offers you a lot of flexibility. Be open to opportunities. Every day I learn more and add to my professional toolbox. The more I know both theory and methodology, the more effective I get at coaching.

Running your own business is more than just coaching or facilitating well. You will need many skills in methodology, including program and curriculum design.

Surround yourself with great people. My best work is done in collaboration with others. Do not just join professional organizations; become involved and build relationships. Share and support one another.

What do you want the world to know about your work, or about Family Science?

I went into the field wanting to “fix the world.” I have learned from great mentors that empowering others to do their own work is more rewarding. Be the safe nest where they can practice.