Monday, December 10, 2012

What is Life Coaching?

In the past few years, therapeutic life coaching by therapists is on the rise. How is it different from traditional therapy? Not everyone is a candidate for life coaching, but for a number of people, coaching offers some interesting and different ways to move your life forward.

Counseling traditionally focuses on pain and suffering that the patient is experiencing internally or in their relationships, and supporting the patient through those darker emotions back to more internal peace and hope. In coaching, we can also focus on accomplishments, goal setting, motivation, pleasure, peak performance, and happiness. In coaching, we can broaden our view to look at building your best life. You don't have to have a problem, or symptoms, to get coaching. You might just feel stuck, or a desire to make your life even better than it is.

Therapists who do therapeutic coaching can incorporate the two backgrounds to work with clients collaboratively to develop goals. Coaching implies a more active role for the coach than the stereotyped view of a therapist who listens and nods, but doesn't give you much feedback. Therapeutic coaches may take a more active role, disclose more at times if they feel it will help their point, give you an exercise to do, or set goals with you.

A therapeutic coach is joining with you, and on your side promoting your growth and development as a person, parent, partner, and businessperson. A coach may contact you between sessions to check in with you, where traditional therapy stays in a more restricted frame inside the therapist's office.

Traditional therapy often meets once a week for an extended period of time, where coaching may be more flexible or time-limited. Coaching can even occur by telephone consultation, which can be convenient.

Coaching skills, like being able to help motivate people, set goals, recommend next steps, and taking an active leadership role when needed are helpful in the practice of regular therapy. Being a licensed therapist with coaching skills allows you to pull from both skill sets as needed. Since the field of coaching comes with its own vocabulary, like your "growing edge," it can expand the way I think about counseling clients, shifting from a focus on symptom-reduction to focusing on higher level goals for their future as they are ready, which might include physical health, career, money, spirituality, more satisfying relationships, and personal growth.

It's always nice to have choices. Sometimes a softer, holding place in therapy is what's needed, and at other times, an individual might need more challenge, encouragement, and some advice. Therapists who can also do therapeutic coaching can offer both.

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