I have been through years of therapy, and that long journey came with the exhausting act of digging through my childhood, and looking more closely at the massive life changes that I had been through in my 30’s. Though I did make some headway on resolving said issues, I found more often than not, that I left my sessions more confused and anxious than when I went in.
That’s when the shift started. Though I felt it was important to deal with issues from my childhood and to release them, I also desired to get closer to the issues that I was currently struggling with. Talking through old situations and how they made me feel was great, but I wanted more. I wanted the tools to be able to connect to who I was today, and to learn how to change the stagnant patterns that had followed me for decades.
It was at this point I started to research different types of therapy, and that’s when I started to find information on Life Coaching. It sparked my interest and surprisingly, also created some anxiety. I had to ask myself several questions, could I do things differently than the deep dive I was so used to? Were these people that were calling themselves coaches as qualified as the individuals that had gone through school to get their doctorate degrees?
Since I wanted a change I decided to give it a shot and I reached out to several life coaches to set up initial consultations. I went in to these appointments armed with an arsenal of questions, and to be honest, I was secretly hoping that they would fail my “test”. This would then enable me to stay comfortable and continue with the traditional therapies that I was used to and that I found safe.
What I found was the exact opposite. Not only did I feel a warmer sense of humanity from the people that I met with, but most of them were able to ask questions that got right to the heart of where my struggles were within the first meeting or two. I found myself shocked at the realization that within this new modality I actually felt more comfortable, as if I were talking to a mentor. Because of this, I soon found I was able to relax and view the situations that I was going through in a whole new light.
I found out that the goal of these life coaches was to move me forward with an actual end date in mind, by which point I would experience enough growth to go back out into the world as a new me. A person armed with a new arsenal of tools and self-discovery, and this is exactly what had happened. I learned how to connect with and express buried emotions from trauma in my past; I grew in leaps and bounds in the area of communication with the people close to me, and as a people pleaser, I learned how to listen to what I needed in situations versus always doing what is right for other people.
This was my introduction into Life Coaching and I continue to use the tools I gained from those sessions and experiences to this day.
Hiring a coach was one of the best things that I ever did for myself! It taught me how to change and empower myself in so many ways that I eventually gave up my 20 year career in sales in order to become a coach and help others the way I had once been helped. I am now trained as a Life Coach myself, and I have the opportunity to hold space and offer guidance to others to help them gain insight and create lasting change within their own lives.
If you find yourself in the position I was once in-- confused about what life coaching is and where to start, but wanting to create real change in your life or in the lives of others, then this article is for you.
Where do I go from here?
So what is life coaching? How does it differ from therapy? What goes on inside a session? What should I expect from coaching? Why is coaching a good thing? These are questions that I get asked everyday by prospective clients, and behind all of them I recognize the familiar feelings of fear and mystery surrounding opening up to a total stranger about your most intimate issues as I once did.
This article is a quick Life Coach Q&A guide to help answer some of the unknowns and questions that often come up. My hope is to help you to find the path you have been looking for in your search for self-enlightenment (“to lighten the feel of emotional self”), or at the very least to assist you in answering common questions you might have.
So what is coaching?
At its core, coaching is simply sitting with another human being who will guide you through a journey which will help you focus on holistically addressing and resolving current struggles and challenges that you are facing.
So what is the difference between coaching and therapy?
Aren’t they both just talking about your issues and traumas that have affected you, perhaps from childhood? The answer is yes and no. How can that be? Well, therapy often focuses on situations that go back to childhood and may take years to work through. Therapy is very often talking-based (meaning you sit and talk about what has traumatized you), and is generally considered a more conservative approach.
Coaching usually starts from where you are on that day, and focuses on struggles you are currently having. Your coach will give you exercises and techniques designed to guide you through a particular struggle so you can learn about yourself while working on the resolution and permanent release of that issue. Sometimes that requires a dip back into your past, but traditionally you don’t stay there. Therapy requires a degree and licensing from the state government, whereas coaching is usually certification-based and requirements vary from state to state. Coaching is usually viewed as less formal.
How can coaching change me?
Well, coaching aims to create a more insightful, mindful and present you. It helps to make you much more aware of what you need and want, and aims to hold you accountable to yourself so that you don’t slide back into destructive patterns and habits. Coaching can also encourage you to become more empowered within yourself and within your life. This happens because as you take more responsibility for your actions, by default, you take more responsibility for your life as a whole and the lives that you touch. As that happens and as you continue to work with yourself, you will realize that you are actually in the driver's seat; that you are in control of your life and not the other way around. A feeling of empowerment is often felt with this type of growth.
So why is this a good thing?
Doing this type of work can free you up from old patterns, and oftentimes it’s done in a step-by-step manner that will help you create a new life and build a new way of processing. You will be able to report in to someone that will hold you accountable and hold space for you while you build this new life. It is loving, firm, and honest support by a neutral person who is a neutral party observer to the drama of your life.
What should I look for as I try to find a coach?
You might be able to get recommendations for someone to talk to. If it’s a therapist you are looking for, oftentimes you can call your insurance or your family practitioner for some input. If you are performing a google search, keywords such as ‘life coach’ can offer up some fantastic sites and suggestions for coaches. Oftentimes you can search within a Life Coach’s website for specific needs, such as coaches or therapists that specialize in Asperger’s and Autism.
The first and most important thing to look for is someone that you “click” with. In other words, someone that you feel comfortable with, and is easy for you to talk to. To find this out you will do an initial phone or in-person consultation, which most coaches offer for free. I highly suggest searching for an empathetic person who will really listen to what it is that you need. This person will most likely ask you a lot of questions in order to get to the root of what your concerns are within your life. The goal of your sessions should be to zero in on your current areas of struggle with an objective, neutral and honest point of view. This person should be 100% committed to helping you move forward in life.
So whatever direction you choose to go just know that finding the right coach for you will be a personal journey and it’s important to check in with how you are feeling on a regular basis. Make sure to be honest with yourself and your coach at all times, and remember to keep the communication open.