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To Coach or Not to Coach

When a therapist decides to label himself a “coach,” is it much more than packaging? It seems to depend. Coach training organizations, for the most part, seem to have repackaged cognitive-behavioral therapy tools to help people attain specific goals, versus alleviate symptoms.

So who would want to see a therapist who isn’t also a coach?

I did coach training with a different sort of organization, the Values In Action Institute, which is devoted to the development and application of Positive Psychology. It’s a strengths-based model, and the emphasis clinically is on the strengths of the client and the goals of the process. It’s also firmly grounded in work to empirically validate interventions. Again, I hope every therapist gets trained in this approach, and I know I wouldn’t want to work with a therapist who wasn’t focused on leveraging my strengths to achieve my goals, among other things.

As far as I can tell, the coaching movement has done two things. It has let people get into the talking cure profession without much training. As far as I can tell this has not led to any particular problems, so if they are out there talking to people and, more importantly, letting people talk to them, so much the better. The other accomplishment of the coaching movement is that it has been part of a movement to re-label psychotherapy to make it more palatable to the general population.

I haven’t been able to find any utilization stats on coaching, but as far as I can tell there actually are few people out there actually employing coaches. So the re-packaging of therapy, thus far, hasn’t had much effect. But I think the trend is critical, to make the case to all those folks out there who would benefit that they won’t have to lie down on a couch and regress to a childlike state. If they don’t want to.

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