How It Works
Coaching is a powerful and interactive process designed to help people achieve desired outcomes by increasing clarity, identifying a plan and creating a sense of accountability. Coaching calls attention to the fact that it’s not only what we “do” in our lives that matters, but it’s also who we “are” and who we want to be. And finally, coaching helps clients realize their strengths, talents, and gifts so they can build on them and reach beyond what they would do if they focused only on the weaknesses or issues that keep them back or stuck. As Buckingham and Clifton write in their book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, “you will excel only by maximizing your strengths, never by fixing your weaknesses.”
Clients choose to work either in person, on the phone, or a combination of the two, and are welcome to email updates between sessions. Each session is 45 minutes long and we typically meet 3 times per month. I'm happy to offer a half hour free sample session for both of us to determine if we're a good match and for you to ask any questions you have about the process in general and my practice and approach in particular.
Each coaching session ends with some kind of "homework" that is organically generated during or toward the end of the session. In all cases it's designed to deepen or ground new learning, create more clarity, and move toward stated goals. I encourage clients to design with me how much "homework" feels right.
I work both in person (I'm in the Boston area) and on the phone. If the phone sounds like an odd way to do this kind of work I encourage you to give it a try so you can get a sense of how it works. I was skeptical at first also. Interestingly enough, most coaches work exclusively on the phone. My practice is about half and half at any given time. There are even local clients who sometimes prefer the phone for convenience. From my end, I know that I can deliver the same quality coaching on the phone that you'd receive in person.
How Long Will it Take?
I have no idea. That's the honest answer. In the field we say the minimum is 3 months but that's a conservative estimate. So much depends on what it is you're trying to achieve, what else is going on in your life, and how much time you have to devote to the process.
Therapy and Coaching
People often ask, what's the difference between therapy and coaching? How do I know which one I should go to? The most honest answer is that in many cases, depending on the motivation or goals the person has, it can be a personal preference (and coaches are trained to assess and identify when a client would be better served by a therapist). I often think of it as a venn diagram - there are things that only therapists will do, and others that only coaches will do. And then there's that place in the middle where a client can bring the same issue to both the coach and the therapist, and the approach will most likely be different (though just to complicate things - some therapists are very "coachy" and some coaches are able to go deeper). For example, a client who is really dissatisfied with his career and wants something else but doesn't know what that is - would have gone to a therapist 20 years ago and now could choose a therapist or a coach. In very broad strokes, the coach will focus more on the present, help you identify areas of strength and resilience, work with you to gain clarity, help you create a plan, give you tools for navigating around stuck places, and hold you accountable to reaching your goal. The therapist is trained and equipped to help you explore the past, and understand more about why you are the way you are as a means for helping you change. As Dr. Carol Kauffman, a psychologist and coach at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical school, who is also the Director of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Initiative writes, “As a therapist, I follow the trail of tears with a goal of healing, as a coach I follow the trail of dreams with a goal of optimal functioning.” Speaking very broadly, here are some differences.
The following is adapted from:
Therapist as Life Coach, Transforming Your Practice
By Patrick Williams and Deborah C. Davis
Relieve pain and symptoms
Heal and understand problems
Understand history and past
Patient wants to move away from pain
Attain specific goals and desires
Optimize potential and strengthen strengths
Create personal fulfillment
Understand present and create future
Client wants to move toward goals that are attractive
Paradigm of pathology
Desirable goals, life transitions, or personal growth; Paradigm of possibility
Therapist as expert, client as patient
Coach as co-creator; a partnership of equals
Orientation is process; feelings and inner world
Orientation is outcome, action; inner to outer worlds
Limited (if any) personal disclosure
Forwards the work through healing, re-parenting, emotions, catharsis
Personal disclosure OK as an aid to learning
Forwards the work through action, talents, strengths, behaviors, insight into action
Therapist is responsible for process direction, outcomes
Coach is responsible for process and holds clients accountable; client for result