Updated: May 25
This is a blog which refers to an article in The Guardian by Hannah Booth on Saturday 30th April. She shares her experience of 10 years of therapy and how it has benefitted her and why now is the time for her to stop. It's an excellent (and long) read, so I'm summarising it here, viewed through a coaching lens. The original article is here.
There are many links between coaching and other therapies and I usually state that coaching is a forward looking practice. It allows us to look back into the past but not dwell there and certainly not to dwell on anything overly sad or difficult. (If you feel you have a lot of unresolved stuff, coaching may not be what you are looking for). However I felt this article had some gems of wisdom which were worth sharing.
In summary then, and not in the actual order of the article, with a coaching twist:
Proper change takes time
Whilst there is a certain 'magic' to N.L.P. allowing us to spot patterns of thoughts and behaviour in a very short time, please don't expect any 'quick fixes'! I mean if it's taken you all your life to get to where you are now it may take more than one session to undo it and make adjustments. I don't say this to 'reel you in' for long periods of time and more sessions, I say it because just popping in once may not do that! Be prepared to stick with it and allow time for 'not much to happen' Believe me stuff is happening. Sitting with something can allow stuff to surface that may be buried a bit deeper.
Tears are useful
Truthfully, tears don't happen often in my sessions, but when they do it is often in the form of emotional release. Be assured I'm absolutely OK with this.
Self acceptance is a real thing.
However much you may be sick of those quotes - you know the ones - 'I am enough' etc. there is some deep fundamental truth to them and it's up to you to find which one is your mantra. Finding and knowing that sense of self acceptance and feeling that you don't need to keep on grinding away to be better etc. is actually a solid and powerful feeling.
Don't be afraid of silence
I once had a boss who was an ex-police officer. Often when I talked to him he was silent and I ended up filling the silence with waffle and stuff and walking into long sentences which I couldn't get out of! Coaching sessions aren't exactly like this... ;)
We don't need to fill our sessions with constant talk. In fact you need time to think, so be comfortable with silence. It's when all the thoughts are settling and grounding.
The past holds clues
In coaching we do look at the past as it may give us insights into how we did things well and can be a very useful reference point. If it's counselling or psychotherapy you're undertaking it will be quite rooted in the past. It is good place to start for this type of therapy. I once did (as part of a course On Human Social Functioning), a very powerful exercise where I looked at two random events in my life. One was way back in the past, the other very recent.
I was completely and genuinely stunned at the emotions that came up in both events because they were exactly the same! At the time the course leader told us 'We are like a seaside stick of rock and our emotions and behaviours run through us, always.' It's looking at the past that can bring us some real light bulb moments and the occasional hammer on the head moment too. However....
Don't blame your parents!
You might well do initially (and may need to deal with that) but there comes a time where you have to let go of that and take control of your life now. Hannah Booth describes this as a 'therapeutic dead-end'.
The initial consultation is the place where you find out if coaching is the right intervention/therapy for you. If there's too much stuff from the past to deal with then coaching won't work for you.
Ask yourself the right questions
A therapist/coach will ask questions and they are carefully designed for you to think. The one that irks you and needles you the most is more than likely the one you need to answer. Yes, we ask a lot about how you feel, but it might be more than that. Behind every behaviour there is an intention and knowing what this is can be very revealing.
Check in with yourself
This can sound woolly! It means take time to acknowledge what you feeling at this moment. We can race through our day/week/month and never really give ourselves the time to see what's really going on. Anger? Frustration? Sadness. Loss etc. It's remarkably powerful and important to know these things.
Know when to stop
Actually that is probably the easier part of coaching in that you generally sign up for 4 or 6 sessions in the first instance. Knowing that there is an end session can be a goal in itself - although there is no need to be constrained by this - if you need more time you need more time!
One major difference I have experienced between coaching and counselling (say) is the consultation (sometimes referred to a the chemistry meeting). In general I believe coaches are more open to having a consultation than a counsellor or therapist, although any good therapist will take a call and would answer questions about their style and process e.g. if you were looking for a particular style or discipline such as Gestalt therapy . You can do your research for both via the very useful Life Coach Directory or the Counselling Directory. where you can view and save the profiles of those you may like to work with.