My review: Therapy vs. coaching

Rays by Bill Gracey

Among my many trusted partners are various other types of coaches (life, divorce, executive, performance, sales, communication, financial, image, etc.) Also among my partners are therapists (psychologists, psychiatrists, hypnotherapists) and also some who are both.  My services are procedural and motivational, and I know where my capabilities end. In my 10+ years in the employment industry, I have been presented with many a transition challenge, and I have NOT been able to help my clients overcome them all. I thought in the beginning that I could and I learned the hard way that I cannot provide a panacea.

In my second year in business I had a client who was, unbeknownst to him or me, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) after surviving Katrina. In my usual client intake process I identify what the scope of the challenges are that my client is likely going to encounter in achieving their transition goals, so that I can be their strategist to overcome them. This particular client kept getting on and off board with the plan that he approved from the beginning. I was so eager to see him redeem his career and land some place where he could contribute his amazing leadership capabilities. It was frustrating to see him floundering. I really expected him to land within 4 months, but his transition dragged on and on. From my point-of-view, he was being difficult and stubborn. I started to question whether career coaching was my true path.

One day, he shared with me what he had discovered about his psychological condition. It all made so much more sense, and I felt guilty, as though I should have realized it. He seemed to be a confident, competent, motivated, inspiring person; I assumed he had everything he needed to succeed in a career transition. What I didn’t recognize then, that I am keenly aware of now, is that he needed therapy. After he shared with me how bad I made him feel when he was doubting his future, I recognized that I needed coaching.

If there are psychological anomalies, trauma, anxiety, depression, dependencies, etc. they will surface and become and obstacle when you are faced with difficult feats. We all know life is full of those. Not many get the help they need with this because they may not recognize how these conditions interfere with their lives. They have a cost. It usually isn’t until that cost becomes so big that it cannot be ignored that people get help. Therapy is the first defense against the costs that these conditions can have. You will want someone degreed, licensed, and experienced with your particular condition to help you grasp the reality of it. They will help you get to a place where you can accept your feelings, your reactions, and your thoughts. They will help you accept yourself. This is where I feel therapy stops and coaching has to come in.

Being able to accept yourself, to have validation, is a great gift. After achieving this most people feel invincible, unstoppable, larger than life…and then life proves otherwise. Being able to recognize your intrusive or detrimental thought patterns is one thing, but it is not enough to help you get different results in life. You have to consciously change your subconscious thought patterns in order to see real change in your life. That is where coaching comes in.

When you want to be more effective in your life in achieving your goals, turn to coaching. Coaching provides you with structure around generating the self-discipline necessary to create change. Your coach should use various techniques, be they proprietary or well-established, that have been tested to be successful in creating change. The best approaches are those based on recent advances and scientific discoveries on brain behavior. There are new discoveries every day. I keep track of these discoveries on this site: http://www.praxisnow.com/

Just as therapists are required to be in therapy, I believe that coaches should be required to be in coaching. Since my first experience in coaching as a coach in 2007, which was with Landmark Education, a very accelerated program taking place over a weekend, it was abundantly clear to me that my clients will benefit immensely from my personal growth. I reinvented myself and became aware of my own self-descructive thought patterns. Still, I continue to uncover more and more of these patterns as I peel away the surfaces of defense mechanisms, self-doubts, and inaccurate conclusions that I came to and meanings that I ascribed to events in my life which have continually sabotaged my progress and success.

Coaching has made me more compassionate, more intuitive, more connected and more in tune with people, their feelings and their experience of who I am. I still have blind spots. I still may fall into old patterns, especially with the people I am closest to, as it is harder to escape who I came to know myself as with them. However, in an ongoing setting of coaching, I will continue to become aware of those blind spots and have support and guidance in confronting the impact that those blind spots have had on others. Coaching will help me generate self-discipline in the conscious activities that will alter the subconscious patterns around those blind spots. It is not just about accountability; it is about staying in the program.

When I was experiencing post-partum depression, I needed someone to point it out to me. That person was my mom. She made me promise her that I would talk to someone and I did. It helped immensely, and in 6 weeks I was feeling more like myself. This was therapy and it was most appropriate for the clinical symptoms that I was having.

When I recognize that I am stopped or stuck in achieving my goals, be they personal or professional, I turn to coaching.

The clinical conditions have to be dealt with before coaching can be effective. You should make your coach aware of any formal diagnoses or any suspicions that you have about a psychological condition prior to investing in their services.

If you suspect that you could benefit from either therapy or coaching, please contact me and I would be happy to refer you to a trusted partner (if my services aren’t adequate), many of whom I have personally worked with to achieve my own goals.

 

For a follow-up blog post, I will cover how to budget for and prioritize coaching, as I know many of us have goals in various realms of our lives for which we could benefit from coaching, but most of us can’t afford the time or money to seek out coaching in all of those realms concurrently.

 

UNVEIL YOUR BRILLIANCE!

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