• taniacuturi

Coaching or Therapy?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Coaching is better than Therapy in any way.

Coaching and Therapy are a great team, they complement each other, they are each other at times. I love them both, (but I love coaching more... I am biased of course).

The truth is, I see the most results in my clients who are in Therapy and here is why:

  1. They understand the importance of working on themselves

  2. They are ready to continue to work on themselves

  3. They are excited to find a different way on working on their journey of Self.

I am a strong believer of the power of working on our Self-Discovery journey. I am actually in love with that concept. I do that all day with my clients and with my family (I won’t hide that I get blamed by my hubby for doing that).

So why is it that most of my clients that have been in therapy for years come to coaching and say they have gotten more ah-ha moments in a few sessions than in years in Therapy?

It is because sometimes, the work on self-discovery needs a reset. It requires a change of direction and that is what coaching can do.

I truly believe in the concept of philosopher “Bachelard” who says and I paraphrase : we sometimes need to reset to learn again (Translated from French: Faire table rase du passé).

What I mean by that is if you take the example of a student who struggles to understand a difficult physics exercise, sometimes if they change the book that they are learning from and picks a different one on the same topic, they might finally get what they have been reading again and again and not getting all this time.

Coaching can be the "book" you’ve been missing to read to understand yourself better after years in therapy. That’s why I believe they are great partners and they should work in tandem when possible.

Check out my reel where I compare Coaching and Therapy in a "fun" way:

  1. Coaching is a different way to work on yourself. Coaching enriches the Self Discovery Journey.

I worked with a client who had been in therapy for a few years. She was suffering from panic attacks. After making sure that her consultant knew that she was also going to get coaching (it’s important to be fully transparent with both your coach and therapist), we worked together on getting her into a more positive state.

I used a visualisation exercise called “people in the room” exercise. In this specific example, you pick a room that you love (it can be your bedroom, it can be your sofa in a very unusual location etc) and then you invite people in the room and understand why they are present and if you want them to stay or leave. At some point a person came uninvited and it’s the realisation that this person was there that made my client understand things that she had not been able to get with her therapy. That person, although very much loved by my client, was triggering a discomfort in her that were the source of those panic attacks.

With coaching, this client realised that she had gotten more Ah-Ha moments in a few session of coaching than in years of therapy and that she needed a more imaginative approach to understand something she was unable to see with therapy.

She is still in therapy today, but her panic attacks almost vanished. She is able to anticipate them and use our exercise to move in the room she had chosen, talk to the person who hasn’t been invited and ask her to leave.

2. Coaching is more future focused (but not only)

Have you ever felt the need to say to your therapist: ok, this was my past, where do I go from now?

Have you ever felt like therapy was little too quiet? How would some powerful questions sound like in the moments when you are not sure where to go next?

Coaching will work with the power of questions to help the client find their own answers

Coaching uses WHAT and HOW more than WHY. That subtle change makes a lot of difference when it comes to digging deeper in understanding a challenge.

Example: What is your commitment on this challenge out of 10?

What/How questions:

“what are you going to do about it” /“Who is stopping you” /“How do you feel about trying this idea instead?”


Why questions:

Why are you not committed? Why do you think you are not moving forward?

This is what I mean by future focused, the focus is on the “what will you do about it” (Alfred Adler) rather than "Where does the behaviour come from" and "Why" (more past approach).

It can be a more useful method for clients who want to take ownership of their present rather than blaming their past or blaming someone else for what they lack of today.

My coaching teacher John Perry highlights this so well in Kim Morgan's Dancing in the moment podcast:

"I like the metaphor that if you're driving your car for the most part you look at the windscreen because that allows you to choose the direction of travel and head to your desired destination but you do need to be willing to glance at the rear view mirror. But you don't want to fixate on the rear view mirror as some therapist do (...) but neither do you want to ignore the rear view mirror as some coaches do". (John Perry, Dancing in the Moment Podcast)

I truly believe that revisiting the past is key, and this is also done in coaching as well as therapy. Breaking down repetitive patterns is key to understanding where we are and try not to do the same mistake again.

However, in coaching we try to more quickly move the client into a more useful outcome linked to the aspirations they have expressed they wanted to reach.

The coach needs to be careful though not to want to move too quickly to solution/ positive outcome/ goal etc, sometimes it is important to spend time on the person rather than the challenge.

Those questions can move the client into action and taking ownership of their journey.

If they have done the work on the why with the therapist, they will be even more ready to act and take the next step.

3. The reassurance of knowing that coaching has a time limit even though it is always

there if you need it.

Have you ever had the feeling of being stuck in therapy, not knowing when it will end?

Do you feel it is important to remain in control of how the session go, what you want to explore and how much you want to be challenged?

How responsible are you for your self-discovery journey?

Do you have the desire to work on yourself but want to know that its going to end at some point?

In therapy, I have suffered the odd moment where I felt that it was time to distance myself from the sessions. I found they were not easy discussions to have with certain therapists at time and they were not always well received.

In coaching, the good thing is that this is all clarified at the beginning. You work on something specific (but not always), and you do talk about how many sessions might be needed and why.

There is accountability and the client takes ownership of where they want to go. Whilst the journey on self-discovery is never ending, working with a coach is not. It will always be an option to go back and revisit the relationship at a later date.

However, the coach is not there to take the position of the therapist. The relationship is very different that way. I have referred my clients to therapist when I felt that the client wanted to spend more time on working on their repetitive patterns and they needed to get more frequent sessions over a period of time.

The coach needs to know when to refer a client to another profession when they feel they have reached the limit of how they could help the client.

Knowing that you will get tools and techniques to develop self-reliance. When you feel exhausted or drained, coaching will give you techniques and tools that you can use again. Understanding oneself is key but knowing what to do with the feelings and emotions that arise is better.

Here are the key takeaways of this article:

  1. Coaching is a great complement to therapy. It can enrich your journey to self-discovery in a way you did not expect. If you need a reset from what you already know you should give it a try.

  2. Coaching will move you quicker to a place of Ah-Ha, point of clarity and support. Coaching works with very creative exercises that are there to explore specific challenges in a new way.

  3. There is an end to a coaching journey and that is key to developing your own tools and becoming self-reliant. It accelerates and enriches your journey to self-discovery.

PS: I would love to hear your journey and experience. Have you been coached before? Have you been in therapy? Have you done both? what was your experience and why would you hire one or the other?

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