A Research Paper By Michelle Wiebach, Transformational Coach, UNITED STATES
Coaching and Therapy Work Together
When you hear the words “coach” what do you think of? For non-coaches, you think of that stereotype coach. The sports coach. The person who is yelling at another person to “try harder!” or “Do better.”
That is not the type of coach that can help someone find themselves. Improve? Yes, but find themselves? That is questionable.
Life coaching is an essential tool one can use to develop themselves. Coaching used in conjunction with therapy is like hitting the mental health lottery. Of course, you would need to use two separate people, but it’s something to consider.
Coaching and therapy work great together. In therapy, you tackle past events, triggers, and traumas. It’s past-focused and deals with healing. Coaching involves forward movement. What goals do you have for the future and how can you work on them now?
I know these two modalities work well from experience. I’ve seen myself transform through the life coaching journey. I was a timid, shy person who had multi-tiers of self-limiting beliefs. In therapy, I uncovered “shoulds” and scripts that I thought I needed to live by and be stuck in. Through coaching, I learned that I was not living in my truth. Through therapy, I learned where those toxic patterns came from and how to challenge my past. Coaching helped me set goals and go into action to become the person I wanted to be.
What Are the Benefits of Coaching and Therapy?
In the article “When Coaches and Therapists Work Together” author Amanda Barber writes about how coaches and therapists benefit from working together.
“When a client is not making progress and it appears that this is related to an internal psychological dysfunction, a therapist may be able to guide the coach on whether and how coaching can still be beneficial.” (2)
If a person brings a past issue to a coaching session, that is a perfect place for a therapist to go. Sometimes a client can be stuck in a way a coach cannot help.
For example, I used to be a grade-A people pleaser. A person who abandoned their needs to please others. A person who was living in fraud and not in their truth. I didn’t know how to listen to my voice. I didn’t even know how to connect to myself. Through work with my therapist, I worked through exercises to connect to myself. That takes time. It’s work that is hard and takes years.
In coaching, I became empowered to listen to myself. I have the answers. Whatever I am looking for is in me. I have to unveil it. With each coaching session, I would gain awareness. These open-ended questions like “what do you want to do?” stuck with me.
What do you want? What are you learning about yourself?
These questions are some I ask myself almost every day. It’s questions I was not used to thinking about. I never asked myself these things until coaching. I had little to no connection to what I wanted before. All I knew was what others wanted of me. Not what I wanted of myself. There is only so far one can go on their own.
The coach uses techniques to ask the person what they are feeling, thinking and what their goals are.
Coaching and Therapy Self-Limiting Beliefs
Coaching helps uncover self-limiting beliefs. These beliefs can are also discovered in therapy but the focus will be past-based.
These self-limiting beliefs become uncovered, what do we do with them? If this were a coaching session goal, the client would walk away with the start or an action step.
In therapy, there is more opportunity to talk in circles about the same issue. A chance to go into what other people are doing to affect them. There sometimes is no movement. That is where coaching comes in. You have to be truthful with yourself. There is accountability.
The coach takes you through questions about what support needs to be in place and potential obstacles. The coach works with the client differently. It’s a partnership and forward movement.
Transformational changes happen when you push your limits.
Coaching helps those who do not feel empowered become empowered with the use of tools. At ICA we learned about the power tools, where we can see areas of conflicting perspectives.
The use of the power tools, though not noticeable to the client can help get the client unstuck. In therapy, a client usually stays in the past and will often stay in the perspective they were in with that issue. The power tools are great for showing the side they did not explore. These tools can help the client see another side of the problem they never would have even considered. This is so important when trying to help a client move forward and move on from the past.
Coaching changes lives.
Therapists need coaches and coaches need coaches.
In his TED talk, Atul Gawande talks about how much his life changed once he got a coach (1). His talk relates more to coaching in the observed sense but it is still beneficial. He talks about how he grew in his career by having someone more experienced observe him. He said that he got better and better at his craft when he was observed and given feedback.
This applies more to coaches who are getting mentored or observed. The coaching both helps the coach grow and get better themselves. The same can apply to the client-coach relationship.
Gawande talked about how much he learned by being observed. He learned about what he needed to improve on and build self-awareness and tools. He then took those tools with him and helped future doctors and surgeons.
There are many examples such as this one where one can see the benefits of coaching. Combine that with what the client has learned and you’ll get someone who is on the growth path.
Maybe in the future, there can be more of a team and partnership between therapists and coaches. Because combined they can do powerful things for the human condition.