About twenty-five years ago, I said something like this to a psychologist friend of mine at lunch: “You know, we’re psychotherapists, but I’m telling you…what everyone really needs…what everyone secretly wants…is a coach. A personal coach…their own coach…to inspire them.”
Of course, that included me, even as I was in my own therapy at the time. Who wouldn’t, it seemed to me, want that? A personal “life coach?”
Was this my Al Gore version of “I invented the internet” claim? While I didn’t invent it, I apparently divined an industry—the Life Coaching industry—that had yet to emerge. Did I imagine this? Cynics might suggest so, but records of that interaction, available through the “Freedom of Information” act, will affirm it. :))
Yet always, even as a psychotherapist for two decades, my style has had a distinctively “coaching component” to it. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of building my clients’ confidence, building their belief in themselves. I’ve always appreciated the importance of establishing what my clients perceive to be missing in their lives, the factors they perceive to be sabotaging their goals, or their capacity to formulate meaningful goals.
Challenging and supporting my clients to find and pursue meaning in their lives; encouraging them to develop accepting, non-struggling relationships with their insecurities and anxieties; enabling them to experience their vulnerability without shame as, courageously, they “live” their lives more proactively and boldly (and less timidly and avoidantly)—this, for me, is what “life coaching” is about.
How different is a life coaching approach from a conventional psychotherapeutic approach? That probably depends a lot on the psychotherapist. For me, there’s always been a great, natural convergence between “life coaching” and “therapy” because my “working orientation” has always been to inspire clients proactively to challenge perspectives of themselves, and their lives, that hold them back.
I hope to hear your feedback, and to hear from you.