Coaching or Therapy…?

First, before I get into “how” I coach, let’s talk about when you would hire me over a therapist. There is a lot of confusion out there, so let me see if I can make this painless for you. Though there might be some overlaps in certain areas, I answer this question based on two things: why you are seeking someone’s help and what you want to accomplish.

When to Hire a Coach

You want to hire a coach when you have life dialed-in in most areas, but there’s that one (or a few) area(s) you just can’t get a breakthrough in. These areas could be relatively minor annoyances (like a fear of presentations at work), on-going frustrations / stumbling blocks that hinder you (like constant procrastination), or something deeper and more painful (like being stuck on your ex, always dating the wrong person or a marriage that just isn’t clicking into place). 

The focus of the coach is in the here and now. The past comes into play only in the context of understanding how your past experiences are influencing your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions in the present. The goal of coaching is to move you forward, to optimize and leverage your strengths and to identify and “rework” the areas that are limiting you. Here’s a hint…sometimes the thing standing in your way is most often you!

If it helps, let me give you a comparison, a life coach is in many ways no different than a sports coach. Athletic coaches work with elite athletes who are already strong, skilled and highly competent. However, every athlete knows that they can be better – that there are small tweaks they can make in their current process or practice that they can’t see and need someone to help them push beyond their current performance level or improve an area where they aren’t at their peak performance. I can do the same with you.  

When to Hire a Therapist

Therapists are amazing at helping you explore your past and dig more into the “why” of things. A therapist is a must for people who battle what are known as “Axis I” or “Axis II” disorders. To put it in everyday language- you might be struggling with depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD – these things are typically so debilitating that camping out on your past is necessary. The goal of therapy is most often diagnosis, treatment and healing.

Can a therapist function as a Coach?  Absolutely, and if you feel like your past is substantially hindering your day to day life, I highly recommend a therapist. I myself saw a therapist for years to help unpack some pretty deep soul wounds; I also earned a degree in Clinical Psychology; I am not against therapy one bit. However, I also see the need for Coaching; there is room for both!

If Coaching is sounding like our thing, let’s talk about my approach to coaching or how I do business.

My Coach Approach

My Coaching Techniques

The Coaching field has adapted many of the psychological theories and modalities (or techniques) and put into practice the core of these philosophies into the coaching environment. The psychology field has numerous philosophies, modalities, theories and techniques; I’ve studied the key ones in graduate school and found that all of them have their strengths and weaknesses and some are better utilized in certain situations than others.

My goal is always to treat each client individually, and to do what is best for each person given their unique set of circumstances and situation. This makes me what is referred to as “multimodal” which is a term used to describe a coach that does not necessarily hold to one modality, but adapts based on client needs. However, having said that, as a Coach, I most often lean toward two main modalities: Cognitive Behavior Coaching (CBC) and Attachment Theory. These have proven to be the most versatile and most effective approaches for my particular clientele. They are quick in helping my clients resolve certain issues, but also sustainable; meaning the changes stick and the client learns to eventually “coach” themselves – which is always one of my goals. I have done my job when you as my client no longer need me; anything less than that is me simply creating dependency and that isn’t what is best for you.

To put it simply, Cognitive Behavior Coaching  (CBC) was born out of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). It focuses on the association between your thoughts, your feelings and your actions. Attachment theory is a psychological theory first identified by a man name John Bowlby and then adapted and refined through the years. Its primary focus is on how you “do” relationships, or what I refer to as your relationship style. There are several books out there on Attachment Theory in the context of marriage and dating that I can recommend (see recommendations list).

My Framework

Though I don’t necessarily work with only Christians, my door is open to everyone, I would be lying if I didn’t share that my approach to Coaching is shaped to my understanding of how God made us. I think it’s important for my clients to know and understand this framework (or lens) through which I operate.

The Bible supports the idea that we are made of three parts – Spirit, Soul and Body. There are many scriptures referencing the “heart, soul, mind and strength” (e.g. Duet. 6:5, Matthew 22:37), but the Apostle Paul sums it up perfectly in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (emphasis mine):

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.

When you hear healthcare professionals and coaches discuss “total wellness” – this is what they are usually talking about. Even non-Biblically based practitioners understand everyone is made up of “mind, body and soul.” What I often see missing when I read websites and books from this point of view is the “Spirit.” In this way, the Spirit and the Soul are often considered to be one and the same. However, Hebrews 4:12 (emphasis mine) tells us they are actually different:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow (body); it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

It’s important to remember that just because many people will use the same words – not everyone is operating from the same definition. Who’s right? That’s for each person to decide – but I believe there is only one truth and when you have the courage to explore, learn and understand that truth – then healing will come. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that it is the word of God that has the power to “divide soul and spirit” – that to me says it is God’s word that helps us to dissect our inner world in such a way we can understand why we act the way we act and do the things we do. For this reason, I rely on Biblical wisdom and application to serve as an anchor and foundation for my insights and understanding. But again, let me stress that this doesn’t mean that you have to be a Christian or share these same beliefs to work with me – I have worked with many women who don’t identify themselves as “Christian.” You and I don’t have to agree on everything for you to be successful.

How I Can Help You

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

If you are living anything less than a fulfilled and abundant life – then you will benefit from a professional coach.  

Together we can accomplish the following:

  • Define what “fulfilled and abundant life” means to you – what are the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4)?
  • Identify gaps between where you are today and where you’d like to be.
  • Take inventory and leverage the strengths you already have – often these gifts and attributes are hard to see in ourselves; I help you see them.
  • Identify obstacles and barriers – or what are known as self-sabotaging and self-handicapping thoughts, feelings and actions.
  • Develop goals and an action plan to leverage your strengths and overcome the obstacles

Whether we work together or not – I want you to always remember this: You are not broken, there is nothing wrong with you – you are kind, intelligent and beautiful – how do I know? God made you and He makes everything beautiful (Ecc. 3:11; Psalm 139). You may just need someone to help you push past the road blocks that are stopping you from getting to where you know you are destined to be. That is what a Coach does; it is what I do and have been doing for over 15 years. I cannot wait to meet you and to begin the journey!

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