Does Your Expert's Approach To Helping/Healing Match Your Needs?

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Does Your Expert's Approach To Helping/Healing Match Your Needs?
When you're thinking of hiring an expert, take a few minutes to make sure you have a compatible fit!

In the helping professions there are many different "schools of thought" that support and structure how pros offer help to their clients. As you explore the services available on ProConnect, you should consider how the different pros think and their philosophy towards helping clients. This brief research on your part will help save you time (and money) as you decide which pro is right for you.

Below is a description of the most common schools of thought that our pros rely on. They are listed in alphabetical order for ease of use. When you find a style that you like, click the link at the end of the description to begin searching for a Pro who offers support from that way of thinking.

 

As always, it's important to remember that each pro is unique and should you have specific questions, we encourage you to reach out and talk with a pro directly.

We begin with...

Business Coaching

Business coaching is coaching that helps either an individual or a business get back on track. Coaching of this nature generally involves evaluating the current performance level of the business or individual and then creating structured, strategic goals designed to achieve the desired results.

Areas of focus may include: increased performance levels, increased job satisfaction, personal growth, strategic business growth, acquisition plans, financial planning and career development. Coaching may also include leadership training and mentoring if requested.

Business coaches do not all act as mentors. Mentors are individuals with experience in the same business field who are able to model and teach smart skills and behaviors. A business coaches assets include the ability to provide healthy feedback and tools to help achieve desired goals; if you are looking for a mentor, please ask your coach specifically if he or she provides that skill.

Client-Centered Therapy (CCT)

Developed by Carl Rogers in the 1940s and 50s, client-centered therapy is a non-directive approach to the therapeutic relationship. This means that the therapist does not interact with his/her clients in any manner that could be considered leading, interpretive or commanding. For example, the therapist does not ask questions, offer treatment plans, or make interpretations or diagnoses.

Client-centered therapists strive to listen and allow clients to lead the sessions in whatever direction feels appropriate to them. Many clients find this approach appealing because the client retains control over the content and pace of the sessions.

One of the core beliefs of client centered therapy is that people naturally gravitate towards growth and healing; all that is required is an audience with someone who understands, is willing to listen without interjecting and who treats the client with unconditional, positive regard. Client-centered therapists try to show clients the utmost respect by listening and developing an understanding of a situation purely from the client's perspective. The client is believed to be the expert in his or her own life, rather than the other way around.

This form of therapy may sound simple or limited because it doesn't have a formal structure as some other methods do, but it's important to note that this approach empowers clients to understand and accept the events in their lives. Clients don't have a therapist who is doing the work for them or interfering with the situation. In the end, clients grow past their problems with the knowledge and understanding that they deserve the credit for doing the work.

Coaching

The field of professional coaching began in earnest in the 1960s and has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. At this time there are no profession-spanning standards of education, treatment or credentialing that coaches must follow in order to practice in this field. Some believe this has created an unstructured, wild-wild west feeling in the field; others say it has allowed the profession to evolve into one that genuinely serves the needs of its clients instead of focusing on the bureaucracy that characterizes larger organizations.

Today there are six, self-appointed accreditation agencies for coaches. These agencies have created ethical and professional standards that cover areas such as training, continuing education and more. Agency membership and training is not a legal requirement for coaches, but the trend within the coaching profession is towards a set of recognized standards. Agencies like the International Coach Federation (ICF), International Coaching Community (ICC) and International Association of Coaching (IAC) are defining such standards and putting them into practice across the field.

You can find out if your coach holds an affiliation with an agency by checking out his/her bio or by asking a coach directly. Many non-credentialed coaches have extraordinary backgrounds and education, so we encourage you to interview your coach to find out if he/she is a good fit. Keep in mind that credentials alone do not make for an effective pro. ProConnect lets you use the free consultation service so you can interview potential coaches via email (and for free!) to find the best fit for you.

When considering working with a coach, it's key to know what separates coaching from other helping professions. There are two main points of differentiation: the focus of treatment and the method of treatment. Coaching is focused primarily on the client herself/himself, rather than on the client's relationships. Although relationships are an integral part of treatment, coaches will focus on isolating a client's role, behavior, actions and reactions and work specifically with those elements. Coaching is also forward facing, meaning that it's not focused on the past. Coaching looks to the future and how you can reach your desired goals; it is less focused on how you got to the place you're in today.

In session, you should expect that your coach will help you define goals (things like finding a mate, getting a better job, buying a house etc.) and plans for achieving them. Coaching is an active process; you should also expect your coach to hold you accountable for the steps you do and do not take towards achieving your goals.

There are a few different types of coaches to consider: business coaches, dating coaches, life coaches and relationship coaches. Click each separate type to learn more about that niche profession.

Cognitive Behavioral (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes how our thinking, or cognitions, affect how we feel and what we do. CBT is not a therapeutic technique; rather it is a philosophical approach centered on the belief that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, as opposed to external things like people, situations and events. Cognitive Behavioral Therapists believe that if you can change the way people think, you can cause them to feel and act differently.

In session, the therapist assists the client in identifying, testing and correcting dysfunctional beliefs that are the undercurrents of the client's behavior. It is through this structured process that clients begin to make effective changes in their lives. Each session has an explicit agenda, and focuses on specific skills. The client obtains results through \ techniques, education and homework.

As a therapeutic approach, CBT is both brief and time-limited; average client receives only 16 sessions. Early on, the therapist and client discusses the plan for therapy and strategize client about how they are going to reach the desired goals in a time-limited way. CBT is rarely an open-ended, talk-based therapeutic strategy.

Dating Coaching

Dating coaching is coaching that is focused exclusively on helping a client find success in the dating world. Like all coaching, you should expect your dating coach to help you set goals that you can achieve together. Goals for this kind of coaching include beginning to date, identifying unsuccessful dating patterns, finding a healthy relationship and more. Dating coaches often help clients focus on behaviors that have been unsuccessful in the past and coach their clients to practice new, more productive dating skills and behaviors.

Dating coaches don't focus on past relationships or behaviors as a core part of sessions; instead, they focus on teaching clients to create the optimal dating situation. Some dating coaching involves training in areas such as body image, weight loss/gain, communication skills, resource management, financial planning and more.

As you're searching for a dating coach, consider a few questions:

  • Would you prefer a dating coach who actually goes with you to look for prospective dates, or would you prefer one who coaches and then you practice the skills taught on your own?
  • Are you willing to practice the skills your coach teaches you without some form of "in-the-moment" encouragement? If you need that kind of help what can your coach do to help you?
  • Are you willing to really get out there and start dating, or are you recovering from a past relationship that is interfering with your ability to open your heart to a new person?

If your answer is yes to dating, then a dating coach is a great place to start. If you're still healing and not really ready, be sure to let your coach know so he/she can help.

Eclectic

Therapists who take an open approach towards their sessions allow themselves the freedom to draw upon techniques and thinking from various methods and approaches. By drawing from all available resources, the therapist is able to create a customized experience for each client that is designed to address the client's particular issues. This can be a wonderful approach for many clients who may benefit from techniques derived from various approaches, and these techniques can be used in small does or at appropriate moments.

Optimally, an eclectic therapist is a well-rounded and thoroughly educated practitioner who has a vast toolbox of skills to draw from. By not ascribing to a particular philosophy, the eclectic therapist is able to adjust the direction of a session as needed. Think of this therapist as being a master of many trades. It's also possible that a poorly skilled therapist can disguise weaknesses by using the term "eclectic". When you interview an eclectic therapist, consider asking what it means to be eclectic in this case. How does it affect treatment planning, sessions and outcomes?

It's important to know how your pro's thinking will affect his/her focus in session. Most eclectic therapists are well trained and adept at using their knowledge to craft a good session and create a healing relationship with clients. You want to have a good understanding of how your pro sees his/her orientation and what, if any, impact that may have on your desired outcome.

Our suggestion: to learn more about what being an eclectic practitioner means to your therapist, send in a free consultation question and ask your therapist what this means to him or her.

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT)

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, or EFCT, is an approach to couples and family therapy developed in the 1980s by Drs. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. It is a short-term, structured approach that typically takes between eight and twenty sessions to complete. Therapists who practice ECFT often help couples and families dealing with issues like depression, sexual abuse histories, grief, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders and chronic illness.

The therapy session is viewed as a healing place where clients are able to experience corrective emotional exchanges. The healing that takes place in session serves as a template for healing that can occur in the rest of clients' lives. These therapists also believe that however negative the current environment is between couples and family members, those negative responses were logically created at some time as an adaptive change. The therapist avoids over-pathologizing the situation and sees negative behaviors as serving a purpose at one time. The behaviors are no longer needed, as indicated by the clients' out reach for help

EFCT strives to improve the conditions of the marital or familial relationship by:

  • Re-establishing the bonds of attachment by expanding and reorganizing core emotional responses between members of a couple or family.
  • Creating a change in interaction patterns and initiating new interaction behaviors.
  • Creating a secure bond between partners and family members.

With its relatively short-term approach, many couples report positive results from EFCT; 90 percent of couples report a significant improvement in their relationships. One of the most interesting elements of EFCT is that therapists who practice it believe the whole relationship is more than a sum of its parts. That is, they feel that while each individual is critical, the relationship or family is the greater collection of everyone's needs and desires, and it is the whole system (family or couple) who is in pain and reaching out for healing. Therefore treatment is focused on the whole rather than simply the individuals involved.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a form of therapy that was developed to alleviate symptoms resulting from distressing and unresolved life events. The approach was originally developed by Francine Shapiro to help clients cope with the after effects of traumatic events such as rape and military combat. Today, while some practitioners use EMDR for various problems, research supports its effectiveness in helping clients deal with issues such as trauma, addictions and phobias.

EMDR is a structured approach that addresses past, present, and future aspects of disturbing memories. During this treatment, clients focus on a specific thought, image, emotion, or sensation while simultaneously watching the therapist's finger or baton move in front of their eyes. The client is then asked to think about alternative or new thoughts, while simultaneously focusing on either the therapist's finger or baton. The process of drawing memories to mind while focusing on an external stimulus allows the neural pathways in the brain to loosen traumatic memories. It allows these memories to be reprocessed with positive ones.

Years of research have been conducted to test the effectiveness of EMDR, and it has been accepted by the American Psychiatric Association and the Department of Veteran Affairs as a recommended treatment method for healing post traumatic stress disorder. The effectiveness of EMDR has also been proven for issues related to personality disorders, anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, and addiction treatment.

If you have questions about the appropriateness of EMDR for you, be sure to send a free consultation question to the EMDR practitioner you're interested in.

Existential Therapy

Existential therapy is centered on the philosophical belief that human beings are alone in the world. It posits that there is no God and no afterlife whatsoever. Existential psychology believes intense fears regarding God and afterlife motivate most people's choices in life. We simply do not want our existence to end at death and as such we live our lives in ways to avoid this truth. Furthermore, the fear that this concept is true leaves us with a never-ending current of anxiety that we work diligently to avoid feeing. To combat this anxiety, human being form attachments, develop belief systems, join churches and create relationships all in an effort to help reduce our sense of being alone in the world.

According to existential philosophy, we face emotional problems because we cannot accept the truth that we are ultimately alone, and therefore we make choices that we are not in control over. The existential therapist sees our inherent need to avoid feeling our sense of aloneness as a core problem. For this therapist, healing happens when we accept the truth about our existence and then begin making choices with this knowledge.

Existential therapists work with clients to help them discover why they feel overwhelmed with anxiety and work to find better ways to manage their feelings. By making new, healthier choices the client is able to complete therapy as a freer person—one who makes decisions consciously instead of shrouded in a veil of denial. The focus of therapy is on the present and the future rather than the past.

Family/Marital Therapy

Family and Marital therapists provide support and treatment to both couples and families to help them improve relationships, communication and harmony within the family unit. They may work with the family as a whole (meaning everyone comes to the session) or the therapist may meet with family members individually. Family/marital therapists treat a wide range of clinical needs including depression, anxiety, childhood/behavioral issues, marital stress and personality disorders within the context of the family unit.

As an example consider this: In a family of five (mom, dad and three kids), one of the children has attention deficit disorder. That child's behavior has an impact on each person along with having an impact on how the family operates as a whole. The therapist can address the goals of the family, as well as address any healing and skill development that individuals need to cope to with the attention deficit disorder of the one child. Family and marital therapists work on both the individual's needs as well as the needs of the group, which may from time to time be in conflict with each other.

As a practice, marriage and family therapy is both brief and solution oriented. This means that the therapist does not intend to see the family or couple for an unlimited amount of time; instead the therapist works to set attainable goals that have clear end date. According to American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the average family receives 12 sessions with 65.6 percent of the cases completed within 20 sessions and 87.9 percent within 50 sessions.

Having individuals participate in solo sessions tends to extend the amount of time in treatment. There are many benefits to having some sessions where individuals can address their own needs, by themselves. If this is something you're curious about, please ask your therapist about the pros and cons of individual sessions.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychologists are fully-trained, Ph.D. level therapists who work with the criminal justice system to help understand the psychology behind criminal behavior. They work with judges, attorneys and other legal professionals to help demystify criminals' minds, behaviors and motivations. In order to work in the American judicial system, forensic psychologists must have a clear understanding of the rules of the system. The forensic psychologist's responsibility as an expert witness is to translate psychological information into a legal framework that the court understands. Furthermore, because the legal system varies state-to-state, often forensic psychologists specialize in unique jurisdictions. Upon request, they provide sentencing recommendations, treatment recommendations, competency to stand trial assessments and other information to the judge.

When they are not in a courtroom, forensic psychologists also spend time educating police officers and other law enforcement staff on the psychology behind criminal behavior, and they assist in areas such as criminal profiling,

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy, not to be confused with Gestalt psychology, is built around two central ideas: that the most helpful focus of psychology is the present moment and that everyone is caught in webs of relationships. When working with a Gestalt practitioner the focus of sessions is directed at what is happening in the room (the process) and less about what is being discussed (the content). Gestalt therapy is less concerned with the story being shared and more concerned with the feelings, actions and thoughts that the client is having while in session.

Gestalt therapy tries to do two things: educate and increase the client's consciousness about "the now" and increase the client's awareness about how he/she responds mentally, emotionally, and physically to what happens in any given moment. By developing a greater understanding of how they respond to stimuli, clients form a stronger awareness of how their past is affecting their present. From this knowledge, a  sense of self-acceptance emerges and clients are ultimately able to let go of their subconscious reactions. A byproduct for many clients is the increased freedom to release the hold that the past has on their present life.

Typically a longer-term treatment, many clinicians who practice Gestalt therapy also practice additional methodologies. If you're curious about a therapist's affinity with Gestalt philosophy, be sure to send in a free consultation question and ask.

Humanistic Therapy

The humanistic method is a compilation of several theoretical orientations that came into existence in the 1940s and 1950s. In part, humanism developed as a backlash to behaviorism (the idea that people psychology should be objective and focus on people's behavior, as opposed to their minds, souls or consciousness)  and strict scientific approaches that were fashionable in the early part of the century. The resulting philosophy is one that believes in a positive view of human nature and emphasizes the uniqueness of each person.

What this amounts to for a client is a practitioner who places the client's experience, needs and understanding of the world as the core element for treatment. Clients share their stories and it is their unique human experience that takes center stage in treatment. Unlike philosophies where the therapist is equipped with knowledge about clients that clients don't have on their own, the humanistic therapist believes clients are the experts on their own lives. It is through the client that the therapist is able to gain access to the areas that need guidance, support, love and growth.

Humanistic therapy is also an umbrella term for other schools of thought such as Rogerian, Gestalt, Existential and Self-Help. Therefore many therapists can consider themselves to be humanistic. It is important to determine what that means to your own Pro, and how he/she applies this belief to treatment. One way to find this out is by sending your therapist a free consultation question.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is both a technique and a school of thought. Hypnotherapists differ from other therapists because their focuson how clients are influenced by, manipulated by, even controlled by subconscious feelings and thoughts.

Hypnotherapy involves helping clients access subconscious memories, thoughts or desires and ultimately helping them to integrate, reframe, reflect and relax such thoughts so they are more in control of their reactions. Therapists use a series of exercises aimed at helping the clients relax so they can be transferred into an altered level of consciousness. Once in that state, the therapist helps clients explore and process whatever their subconscious brings up.

Frequently hypnotherapy is used as a technique in some sessions but rarely is it used in every session. Often it's used when it's deemed necessary and as a part of a broader treatment strategy.

Imago

Imago is therapeutic technique and philosophy developed by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt that helps couples and singles develop a better understanding of what causes relationship and marital conflict and how it can be resolved.

Imago weaves together humanistic and interpersonal psychological theories, and practical observations about the experience of love into an approach that helps couples use conflict to understand their relationship, and reduce stress and anxiety. Imago posits that the differences between members of a couple, which often lead to frustration, are actually a natural part of the couple's original attraction. In other words, what drew a couple together may also be what is frustrating them. Imago practitioners use a technique called the Imago Dialogue to increase effective communication between couples and help them move beyond the current conflict.

Imago therapists try to remove the elements of blame, shame and criticism from the relationship to help foster a stronger bond for the couple. They work with singles and engaged couples as well as married and long-term cohabitating partners.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal Therapy is a short-term treatment that focuses on the connection between interpersonal relationships and the development of psychiatric and mental health symptoms. IPT was originally developed to treat adult depression and has been applied to many other areas of concern including: anxiety, substance abuse, personality disorders, along with the full spectrum of depressive related illnesses.

IPT does explore the client's life history and how the client's awareness of events has caused him/her to develop mental health symptoms. However, because IPT intends to be a brief form of treatment (and the goals of IPT are rapid symptom reduction and improved social adjustment), treatment is often focused on one or two goals.

IPT works to educate clients on the nature of their illness and what treatment options are available. IPT is a standardized treatment approach and thus is unlike other forms of therapy that encourage open-ended conversation and exploration. IPT also frequently involves drug therapy to help treat symptoms of a client's mood disorder.

Jungian Therapy

Jungian psychology was developed by Carl Jung in the first half of the twentieth century. Jungian analysis is an in-depth approach to healing mental illness (or treating general dissatisfaction with life) by looking closely at the relationship a person has with his/her unconscious mind.

Jungian analysts believe that by cultivating an understanding and awareness of unconscious thoughts, clients can create greater harmony in their lives. Through this awareness, a client can grow into a unique human being. For Jung, it was not enough for a person to heal; he wanted to help people realize their full, distinct potential. Jung said that this individuation is a process through which "a man becomes the definite, unique being he in fact is."

Jungian psychotherapy helps clients establish a healthy relationship with the unconscious mind so that they will be able to draw health and healing from this relationship. In order to create the desired state of being, a client must be open to exploring dreams as well as religion, spirituality and mythology, and to question the assumptions of society.

The Jungian therapist tries to help the client find more meaning in life, while cultivating respect for the mysterious nature of the soul.

Life Coaching

Life coaches are particularly helpful in times of transition or stress, as they can help you determine and achieve personal goals that can be difficult to reach on your own. The practice of life coaching has its roots in executive coaching, which drew on techniques developed in management consulting and leadership training through counseling practices. Life coaching also includes disciplines from sociology, psychology, and positive adult development, career counseling and mentoring.

Life coaches do not focus the past, but instead focus on affecting change in your current and future behavior. This coach is able to offer tools and motivation for you to change unproductive behaviors, work on problems, and get you to where you want to be in your personal life.

A life coach can help you gain clarity about situations in which you may have been stuck in the past. He or she can increase your confidence level and help you create an action plan to move forward, with very positive results.

The path of life is usually not a straight line, and often the twists and turns can disorient us and make us forget what we really want. A life coach will help you discover (or rediscover), clarify and achieve your vision for your life.

Marriage Educator

Marriage educators are valuable to clients because they work with couples on everyday challenges. They teach couples the skills and attitudes necessary to sustain a healthy intimate relationship, and what to expect from married life (something that may shock us!); this includes the day-to-day aspects of marriage as well as more troublesome issues that can harm a relationship. Marriage educators show couples how to build strong marital bonds by being better listeners and keeping the lines of communication open.

The objective of marriage education is to address common relationship pitfalls before they happen. The benefit to taking a course is that you will be better prepared for such issues when they arise. Note that we're saying when they arise, not if they arise. That is one of the most impressive elements about marriage education: it is practical in nature and draws attention to things that happen in most marriages.

Marriage educators may only be part of the solution for relationships that are in serious trouble, i.e. those challenged by domestic abuse, substance abuse, infidelity, medical crisis, etc. Often these types of issues may need other interventions as well, but a marriage educator may be a good place to start and the educational format may be less intimidating for some couples. A marriage educator can also help couples identify issues that may need deeper work or other professional help.

The best idea is to seek out marriage education as soon as possible to assure marital health before problems occur. In fact, many engaged couples take a marriage education class. Some states even offer marriage license discounts to encourage couples to take these classes before the wedding. It's never too late to learn and apply new skills. Couples who have been married for 20, 30, 40 or 50+ years have experienced improvements to their relationships from marriage education.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

For patients with chronic pain, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and other health issues, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT, works to reduce stress, manage pain, and to help clients respond to situations with more control.

MCBT blends two disciplines: cognitive therapy and mindfulness. MBCT clients are directed to pay close attention to their feelings in order to gain insights into these feelings, and are then taught to deal with health issues in a more effective way. Additional, MBCT teaches clients to hone in on what is happening within and around them. Clients are taught to experience each moment of the day fully and consciously, but without judgment.

Through mindfulness, clients recognize that clinging to negative feelings is not an effective coping method. MBCT therapists believe that mindfulness helps clients relate differently to chronic conditions and opens them up to possibilities for change.

Psychoanalytic Therapy

In psychoanalysis, the client explores patterns of thinking and behavior (often originating in various childhood developmental phases) through free-association and identification with the analyst. Modern psychoanalytic therapists may see clients less frequently that strictly traditional ones. They may also take a more interactive approach, while traditional psychoanalysts rarely reveal their own views or feelings during therapy.

The founder of psychoanalytic theory was (of course) Sigmund Freud. While his theories were considered shocking at the time and continue to spark debate, his work had a profound influence on a number of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, and art.

During psychoanalytic sessions clients talk about what is going on in the conscious mind, which encompasses everything they are aware of rationally. Memory is not always part of consciousness, but it can be retrieved easily at any time and brought into our awareness. Psychoanalytic work also includes accessing the unconscious mind, which is described as a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict.

If you have questions about this type of therapy and it's appropriateness for you, be sure to send a free consultation question to the psychoanalytic practitioner you're interested in.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy, also known as insight-oriented therapy, evolved from Freudian psychoanalysis. Like practitioners of psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapists believe that bringing the unconscious into conscious awareness promotes insight and resolves conflict. A psychodynamic approach helps clients examine internal conflicts (rooted in past dysfunctional relationships) that are impacting current life with unproductive and often destructive behaviors.

Traditional psychoanalysis typically requires at least two years of sessions. Practitioners of psychodynamic therapy believe that clients can achieve their desired results with a much shorter group of sessions. They feel these sessions will generally start an ongoing process of change that will continue after therapy has ended.

Another characteristic of this approach is focus on the relationship between therapist and client as a way to learn about how the client relates to everyone in his or her life.

If you have questions about this type of therapy, and it's appropriateness for you, be sure to send a free consultation question to the psychodynamic practitioner you're interested in.

Relational Life Therapy (RLT)

Relational life therapy offers strategies to deal with marital problems and to restore harmony in relationships. Couples who are recovering from affairs or traumatic events, or who are experiencing a lull in passion, can find RLT helpful; it can also help with a variety of other issues.

These practitioners believe that we develop, grow and heal in relationship to others. The relational therapist facilitates new experiences for a couple and provides opportunities for healing and growth.

Boundaries in relational work are more fluid than in other therapies. They don't rely on authoritative distance, neutrality, or the therapist as a "blank screen." This process requires integrity, self-awareness and continual self-reflection on the part of therapists, since they join clients in understanding conflicts and in experiencing healing. Empathy and valuing of clients' feelings are both very important in this type of therapy.

If you have questions about relational life therapy, and it's appropriateness for you, be sure to send a free consultation question to the RLT practitioner you're interested in.

Relationship Coach

The everyday twists and turns of life as a couple create a great opportunity to bring in a third party to help "straighten out the path" of your relationship. Working with this type of coach is a client-focused experience during which an individual or couple is assumed to be healthy, powerful, and able to achieve relationship objectives with effective support, information, and guidance.

Professionals with life coaching and dating coaching practices will usually offer relationship coaching as well, using the fundamental principles and techniques of coaching: focusing on the present, creating an action plan for future change, and giving you (and your mate if applicable) step-by-step help to achieve your goals.

Relationship coaches will not "fix" your partner or any other person, but rather help you fix miscommunication. Through talk therapy, coaches can help you find out what's preventing you from successful relationships and how you can fix any problems. A relationship coach can also be helpful at the end of a relationship, by teaching you tools to better cope with the loss and help you enter into new and healthy relationships.

Many service providers use the title of "coach." Multiple coaching schools and training programs are available, allowing for many options when an individual decides to obtain certifications or credentials. Organizations such as the 14-year-old International Coach Federation have been created to advance the coaching profession by setting standards for coaching, providing independent certification, and building a network of credentialed coaches both in the US and in other countries.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Solution-focused therapy, sometimes called "brief therapy," focuses on what clients would like to achieve through therapy, rather than on their problems or mental health issues. This therapist helps clients to envision a desirable future, and then to map out the small and large changes necessary to realize that vision. The SFBT therapist will seize on any successes clients experience and will encourage them to build on strengths rather than dwell on problems or limitations.

SFBT has taken about 30 years to develop into today's form of the specialization. It can be ideal for a client who is looking for results and not looking to explore root causes. Because of its sharp focus on fixing problems, SFBT is increasingly being used to help parties in conflict understand each other's issues and get along more smoothly.

Transpersonal Therapy

Transpersonal Therapy is a spiritually-oriented approach that provides experiences of transcendence. It also gives support for the new awareness that develops with these experiences. Clients may feel a sense of awe as they become aware of a deeper connection to the universe and existence beyond their body and the present time.

This type of therapy is holistic. It draws its methodology from the spiritual traditions of the world, including eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, the Yogic traditions of India, and Western contemplative traditions, and it integrates them with contemporary psychology. The transpersonal therapist recognizes that he/she is equal to the client and in fact, that there is no separation between them. This shift in ideology changes the nature of the therapy. The therapist is not in a superior position to the client, and he/she listens with suspended judgment and deep respect.

While it is still important for the therapist to be discriminating and analytical, this therapy is centered on an attitude of open-mindedness, wonder and innocence, as if everything that is said, felt and thought is for the first time ever. The therapist strives to be completely genuine and "present," and clients do the same. Both therapist and client try to be self-aware to promote healing and growth.

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