I have seen my share of therapists. First when I was in 7th grade, gifted to me by my parents as a reliable adult while their relationship disintegrated. Then to my last a few years ago who helped me heal after leaving my emotionally abusive ex-husband. Therapists are generally skilled at addressing trauma by exploring the what and why of our pasts. Coaches, by contrast, are skilled in teaching us how to identify what we want in our future and support us in bringing that vision to life.
There is a spectrum spanning from therapeutic coaches to coachy therapists. I'm painting with broad strokes because I know a number of people who have been seeing their therapists for years and years. I believe they're missing an amazing opportunity.
They simply don't know that coaching is a powerful option for getting un-stuck. It unravels how we keep getting in our own way. It implements action that moves us courageously forward in creating a life we are thrilled to be living.
5 Reasons To Fire Your Therapist And Hire A Coach
1. Imitate the successful
Athletes have coaches. Executives have coaches. Actors and successful entrepreneurs have coaches. Rare is the individual who "makes it" without someone who is or acts like their coach. Top performers know that they excel with the guidance of a coach. That supportive and skilled individual who helps them clarify their goals and navigate the sometimes dangerous territory of their own minds. Dangerous in that we humans have limited perspective on our own flawed thinking. Coaches help us question our ingrained assumptions and limiting beliefs to replace them with empowering practices that advance us in realizing our goals.
2. Happiness Experts
Coaching draws heavily from the past 25+ years of Positive Psychology, the happy sibling of traditional Psychology. Traditional psychiatrists and psychologists have been trained to focus on what's wrong with us, as embodied in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Coaches, however, are steeped in the study of happiness and draw from it's ever expanding body of neuroscientific research. We can now see how practices of mindfulness, gratitude and other positive emotions create and change neural pathways in our brains and boost our happiness. To paraphrase Ellen Langer, social psychologist and professor at Harvard University, therapists get us from unhappy to neutral and coaches take us the rest of the way to happy.
3. You Have The Answers You Seek
I received my coaching certification at the Coaches Training Institute where we firmly embody the perspective that clients are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. Coaches know you don't need fixing and that we do not have "your" answers. Instead, a coach believes in you and helps you turn down your internal noise and clear your brain clutter so you can discover the magnificent answers and solutions that are within you. This creates sustainable and profound change because it comes from the inside rather than being imposed from the outside.
Most therapeutic approaches hold the therapist as an expert and hierarchically "above" or apart from the patient. Coaches approach their professional relationships as co-creators. The client and the coach are each responsible for creating the desired outcomes. The coach brings expertise to enable clients to make choices that serve them and also stands eye to eye with them as peers. I find there is a profound and needed empowerment in moving away from hierarchical relationships. Power is given away by "looking up" or "looking down" on other humans. Each of us as human adults are called to meet each other on equal footing to heal the deep wounds that plague our lives, our societies and the planet.
5. Champion and Cheerleader
Lastly, coaches are in your corner while you are in the ring of life, like a boxer. Your coach is fiercely passionate about your wellbeing, pulls you back on your feet when you get knocked down and celebrates your victories when they come. Your coach is that person who believes in you and your limitless potential, even when you doubt yourself. Your coach champions and reflects back to you your highest vision of yourself. I believe that authentic cheerleading is something every one of us benefits from and each of us deserves.
If you're still grappling with understanding, exploring the trauma and wounding in your past, keep your therapist. If you're ready to boost your happiness and resilience and create the life of your dreams, hire a coach.