How does a Life Coach differ from a Psychologist?
A psychologist usually deals with those who have emotional or behavioural difficulties and/or suffer from painful unresolved issues in the past that impact on their ability to function normally. Essentially, s/he aims to bring the client back to normal functioning.
A Coach, however, deals with people who generally are already well-functioning and successful who wish to achieve even higher levels of effectiveness and success, bringing increased satisfaction in their career or personal lives.
Unlike psychotherapy, coaching can be done either on the telephone or face-to-face.
Like a psychologist, I listen and observe. However, my role is not an advisory one. Also, as a coach, I primarily am not interested in focusing on the past, interpreting, making judgements or engaging in psychological processes. I support you by working with the tools and resources available to you now – that is, in the present – to enable you to refine these in order to attain greater success in the future.
One of the principle concepts behind coaching is that you are your own best ally; that is, that you already have the knowledge and the solutions that you require. My job is simply to help you gain access to this, by unlocking the door to enable you to reflect on and evaluate your choices along with the potential solutions in a new and different way.
The second key principle underpinning the Coaching philosophy is: we all have choice. There is always a choice in life. Hence, ‘life is not about waiting for storms to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain’. It’s about acquiring behavioural (as well as mental) flexibility when faced with life’s challenges. Indeed, Coaching will enable you to acquire a life skill: the chance to expand your personal repertoire of thinking and behaving – acting and reacting – in a different way to how you have done in the past.
What sort of experience can I expect to have of (Life) Coaching?
“I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us… If we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.” Christopher Reeve
This quote pretty well sums up the essence of the coaching experience I offer.
The Coaching process takes the form of a conversation, the only difference being that by providing you with reflections and feedback as well as asking powerful questions, I help you gain perspective on a particular topic. This enables you to gain clarity and insight into your behaviour, beliefs and motivations.
It is when we begin to see things in a different light – that is to undertake a process of perspective-taking – we begin to open up to the possibility of thinking and doing things in another way. Or, as someone once said: ‘to experience something you never had, you have to do something you never did.’ In order for change to occur in our outer worlds, we need to initiate a process of change within.
I tend to use relaxation or meditation techniques during the session, as when the mind and body are relaxed, it is usually easier for the individual to pay closer attention to his/her intuition or subconscious thoughts – where the real knowledge resides. In my experience, Coaching is most successful when you are willing to allow the subconscious to come to the fore.
I can help you set goals, complete tasks and focus more effectively. I can also help you become more self-aware. For instance, by identifying patterns within your own behaviour, thinking and beliefs, you can obtain the results you want by making more empowering choices – ones that are more aligned with your core values and what you really want to achieve in life.
Coaching involves a voyage of self-discovery. Whatever your objective, provided you are open to it, you will learn considerably about yourself as a person. The goal is your outcome. The process is a journey in learning more about you.
For example, the kind of questions you may be asked to explore during a session:
- How does achieving X (goal) relate to other goals you have in your life?
- How does it relate to your life values?
- What behaviour have you observed in yourself that stops you from working towards this goal?
- In what ways do you distract yourself from achieving what you want?
- What’s to be gained by/what is the positive intention of this type of self-sabotaging behaviour?
- What fundamental belief(s) do you hold about yourself when you engage in such behaviour?
Can a Life Coach be a substitute for a Psychologist?
A Life Coach can help you achieve certain objectives and bring you to a greater awareness and understanding of yourself. However, s/he is not a substitute for a psychologist.
If you suspect you may have problems of a more deep-rooted psychological nature, seek expert advice first from your doctor or a qualified medical practitioner.
Please note that coaching is not a substitute for advice or opinions received from a financial, legal, medical or other expert.