I am an entrepreneur, coach and a psychotherapist. I notice the ups and downs of my business and I see the trend toward normalizing the clinical; flattening the hierarchy so there are no “experts”. Many fields are experiencing the same upheaval. The internet can uncover the symptoms, the cure and the steps to get there. Telemental health is on the rise, texting therapy is here. Our field is surrounded by life coaches, wellness practitioners and WebMd. Primary care physicians write eighty percent of psychotropic prescriptions often without collaboration with a therapist. At long last, mental health is a common topic of conversation in the workplace. With that acceptance, comes smart, savvy consumers who shop around, self treat and look for a solution that fits their budget, schedule and comfort level. Gone are the days when a clinician starting out could sit back and wait for the clients to come with robust insurance and unlimited sessions.
These are all good things, by the way.
The client has more insight than ever and is an active participant in every aspect of their treatment. They can articulate what they need and the therapist that doesn’t want to engage in an active discussion about that will see their practice slow down. “Coaching” is an evolution in the acceptance of help from a professional–it’s not stigmatized by mental illness or even, mental health. It’s side by side, not expert and client. There’s equal power and no direct correlation with “being sick”. And that’s exciting and a trend away from the medical model most of us were trained in. So, as a counselor who strives to flatten the power structure, it doesn’t threaten my work nor does it diminish the need for mental health psychotherapy. It’s another niche, another aspect of the helping profession. There’s room for all of us if we are willing to accept the change and the challenge that comes with greater awareness and equal access.
I started out my career as a psychotherapist confident that 30 years later, I would end as a psychotherapist. That’s mostly true. I will always have a place in my practice for the rigors of psychodynamic process and walking the walk with a client through pain and progress. However, a strength of mine is moving through and advocating. Celebrating milestones and then, forging ahead. As therapists, it’s also a weakness. Impatience can leave the client behind and not meeting them where they are. You miss areas of significance when you forge. Sometimes, the attachment between counselor and client is weakened when you are the move-ahead kind of therapist.
Enter coaching. It’s all about forward. Checking boxes, taking charge and realizing ambitions, visions goals and insights. Of course, there are contemplative stops along the way. Job loss, family dynamics, toxic work environments–they all contribute to the slow down and the full stop.
As a coach, I can help the client see the reality of the situation and refer out to a therapist if the issue goes deeper. Generally though, when I am helping a client manage her team, ask for a raise or go after the bigger job, I am moving forward, step by step with them. It’s exhilarating and a great day’s work: advocating, pursuing and achieving. At the end of an active coaching day, I am never depleted. Instead I feel energized and thankful about the work we created together.
After a day of counseling, I often need to engage in self-care, soothing rituals and mindfulness.Both experiences add to the richness of my work but as I move forward in my career, I find the coaching days are a different kind of satisfying.