The Comprehensive Coach Guide – #12 Coaching vs. Therapy
First things first even though this should be obvious. Therapy is given by professionals who studied extensively and also went through rigorous practical training. Some years ago I went through an online dating phase and interestingly enough had some dates and conversations with psychotherapists. In one of these conversations I explained that I do shamanic journeys and work as a spiritual coach. This was enough for her to start an arduous rant about all these sharlatans who call themselves (spiritual) coaches and mess up people with their untrained ways.
I am writing this because it highlights an issue that must be addressed. As much as the rant was uncalled for there is some truth to it.
The coaching industry is trying to create certifications and processes to heighten transparency and safeguarding the overall quality because there are coaches who create a mess and don’t know what they are doing in many cases. That is nothing out of the ordinary because this is life. The attraction in working as a coach is that no education is needed for the “title”. Some are even able to capitalize on their life experiences without having to go through trainings and they do outstanding jobs.
To me personally the main difference between coaching and therapy can be found in time. Therapy is digging up the past and is going through past experiences to help individuals understand why it is they re-act in certain ways. A good form of therapy has always the goal to use the knowledge in order to help the individuals act more consciously or at least to become aware of patterns in reactive behavior.
Why is this important?
Coaching in the best case scenario is looking at the current moment and how to find ways and solutions to deal with behavior without the need to inspect the past. This is easier said than done and at some point in the coaching process clients often want to know from which event or point in time these forces are emenating from. But for the most part the present moment is what is focused. What comes up, how do I feel about this now, what can I do now, or what am I unable to do?
The future is used as a kind of beacon or fixed star that helps to map out the process but the present moment is where the action lies.
The important thing is that you are listening to your inner voice. Are you primarily interested in working with the past, finding out what lies hidden and to uncover painful processes or trauma? I would recommend working with a professional who is trained and knows how to bring you back from these deep journeys. Even if trauma shows up they are trained to deal with these situations as well.
For all other instances where it is about creating “the life of your dreams”, sorry for that phrasemongering, or wish you bring some change into your life a coach can work for you.
If I wish you loose weight and be more athletic it is not always necessary to know why I keep eating gallons of icecream. Sometimes it helps to do something productive like working out and through that motion to be able to change old habits.
It is a little bit like the old philosophical question what came first, hen or egg? So what helps me when I want to create a new life for myself. Knowing and clearing past experiences or to proactively bring into being what I wish to experience. There will be certain setbacks in the coaching process where the past will have to be worked with. Yet as I mentioned without the applicability of tools in my day to day life in therapy, the success of the therapy is questionable. As already mentioned countless times, listen to your intuition and feelings and tread with care especially when you start to embark on journeys into past events and traumatic experiences. First and foremost you “should” be able to trust the person who is leading you along, no matter if they have a range of diplomas or certificates.