How Do You Decide Whether You Need A Therapist or A Life Coach? Here are 7 Questions To Help You Determine Which Is A Better Fit For You

Tricia Parido| July 18, 2019 |

Over the years I have dealt with many issues that presented me with the need for therapeutic intervention, support, and guidance to handle the depressive states, uncontrolled anxiety, addictions, eating disorders, and trauma. I engaged with counselors, therapists, and life coaches to obtain balance, mental health stability, and effective coping skills. For the most part, my interactions were beneficial, that is except for when I was leaning on the wrong professional for a specific need which at the time, I didn’t know could be a real thing. I thought a mental health provider, regardless of their title would be appropriate. What I know now that I have studied all three at great lengths is that there is a difference between the therapeutic model and the coaching model of care. The tricky part for most people is knowing who to seek for what situation.

To quote Sharon Saline, PsyD, who wrote What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew, “Therapy and coaching both facilitate change in people and assist them with gaining perspective on their problems.” She goes on to explain the similarities and differences as approaches and licensure requirements. What I found interesting is that she pointed out that therapists assess, diagnose, and treat DSM classified mental health conditions from a holistic perspective whereas coached take a more educational process using a wellness model. I describe the differences more as one (therapy) works more in the past leading up to now and the other (coaching) works more in the now going forward. But it is important to know that not all therapists or coaches have the same knowledge or skill sets. For example, I practice as a Nationally Certified Life Coach, but I hold nine other coaching credentials along with counseling and I have a degree in Psychology which may set me apart from another coach that solely focuses on career coaching.

I do a great deal of reading about the different approaches available and listen to the general populations’ confusion when it comes to choosing a provider. Here are the most frequently suggested questions to consider asking yourself during your selection process.

  1. What am I most concerned about, the future? Or do I need to spend more time in the past? Considering that Life coaching is a forward-moving, future-minded practice that motivates an individual to focus on doing what works and being effective to generate higher levels of functioning going forward and a therapist or counselor will sit with their clients in their past working on resolving deep emotional pain answering this question may provide you with an effective answer. For some of you, however, there may still be that uncertainty when there is a need for attention in both areas. I always suggest that consulting with a certified life coach first is effective, they can help you get unstuck and into positive motion. Once you are functioning you can then work on healing pain from the past a little at a time as presents to be necessary. But I make it a practice to not take on a client that is better suited for a higher level of care.
  2. Is there an active mental illness? Seeking to understand the level of severity you are experiencing is important. In cases of debilitating depression, severe trauma, true bipolar disorder, episodes involving assault, any level of suicidal thoughts will be more appropriately suited for the work done with a therapist specializing in those areas. You can, however, benefit greatly from working with a coach throughout the process so that as you and your therapist begin to resolve and or stabilize issues and symptoms the coach will teach you how to develop new coping skills and guide you toward incorporating them into your daily life.
  3. Are you able to function? This one is pretty easy. If you are looking to improve the quality of life you are experiencing, then a coach is the way to go. However, if you are unable to do normal activities of daily living or engage in relationships you would be better served by seeking a therapeutic relationship to first help you sort out what the underlying causes are.
  4. Can you identify what you feel you are missing? Therapy is for specific issues. Working with a trained life coach will actually help you investigate that sense of something missing and figure out what to do about it rather than remaining stuck where you are.
  5. Are you ready to receive advice that is actionable? If you want someone to listen to how you are feeling and guide you toward discovering your own breakthrough moment no matter how long it takes you, see a therapist. If you want someone to tell you why you are where you are, how to correct the issue, and hold you accountable for making the necessary life improvements get yourself a life coach.
  6. What is the, or is there a specific part of your life you would like help with? Certified Life Coaches generally have specialties that they focus in and stay within. They are not typically broad in nature. If you need career, financial, relationship or even recovery advise you will find a coach who can help you get on the path you desire. Therapists while specialized stay more holistic and focus mainly on the internal/emotional pieces.
  7. Do you have a specific goal or aspiration you would like to achieve? Again, ask yourself what severity level am I in? Dealing with depression, trauma and the like as I mentioned before your prudent decision is a therapist, at least to start the stabilization process. But if there are specific life functioning items such as avoidance, social anxiety, being better at managing a balanced lifestyle. Your match for success will be found through working with the right professional coach.

I can’t express enough how life-changing and empowering engaging in mental health and life improvement can be, regardless of what type of a provider you ultimately need to seek out. Just be open, honest, and genuine. The time has long past when shame and guilt are attached to needing support.

Three Actions You Could Be Taking to Manage Your Stress

June 15, 2019 | by Tricia Parido | Master Coach at Turning Leaves Recovery Life and Wellness Coaching

Everyone experiences stress in different ways. On that same note, everyone has their idea about how they think it is best to manage it. Often what I see is that they have been utilizing the same technique for years and now they are perplexed as to why it is no longer effective.

As people, we grow and change. The same goes for what prompts stress to emerge. What was stressful when we were teens or young adults will not affect us in the same way. We will see things differently as we settle into our professions, get married, become parents or grandparents, and even as we experience traumatic events.

Another thing I see that is so often overlooked is that stress impacts people on several levels. Most often they don’t associate the symptoms being experienced with stressors, they instead associate the symptoms as the cause of their troubles. With life changes, stress can manifest in the physical body which may be telling you that you are stressed in new ways as you move through life stages. It can show up as increased fatigue, more frequent infections, or even skin irritations. Your behavior may feel different. For many individuals, this looks like a greater propensity toward accidents, a new feeling of restlessness, and an inability to quiet the mind adequately to fall asleep. Cognitive complaints that are most frequently shared with me are feeling mentally foggy or trouble remembering, making hasty, impulsive decisions or the lack of being able to decide, and increased negativity. And finally, emotionally, people come to me with high levels of apprehension, in depressive states, depleted confidence, and irrational irritability.

So, if stress triggers morph as we go through life, why wouldn’t our stress management techniques need to change and grow with us? Think about it, you change your workout routine when you want to lose a few pounds, you change your dietary practices as your metabolism slows down, you change your social and recreational activities to match your home and work life responsibilities, and you change your home life structure with new relationships and parenthood.

In an article I wrote some time back I presented the following 3 summarized techniques:

  • Time Management: “find balance by first taking the time to prioritize their duties, projects, or responsibilities in order of importance or categorize them through the method of important-versus-urgent. Second, creating an effective schedule, such as breaking the day down into 30-minute segments and placing each action or activity in order of importance to keep on task, a technique referred to as “time mapping”. The third is the execution stage where the prioritized schedule is implemented, and tasks are completed. Of course, there are additional tips for effective and rewarding execution such as breaking larger projects down into smaller, more manageable components, assigning deadlines, completing one task at a time, and my favorite, always celebrating accomplishments with small but motivating rewards. Finally, when it comes to reducing stress through time management it is important to plan for or expect schedule interruptions, include personal time (in writing), delegate where possible, and maintain healthy boundaries.”
  • Creative problem solving: “it is important that one first understand what the problem is, which requires looking at it objectively from all directions, even from the perspective of others. Then the challenge to generate ideas comes to play. It is here where an individual can pull from the available resources of personal experience, the theories of others, books, articles and so on to explore all conceivable or viable solutions. From there comes idea selection and refinement. Choosing more than one option to manipulate until the idea that fits the problem best is found, one that the outcome can be visualized, weaknesses pinpointed, and adjustments can be made to avoid major pitfalls until there is a solid game plan or strategy which allows for idea implementation, or trying the idea out in the effort of finding resolution. Of course, with every implementation comes the need to evaluate and analyze the outcome. Sometimes the initial solution ends a bit rough and requires more refinement but when one remains curious and open-minded creativity will keep stress at bay.”
  • Cognitive restructuring: “Stressors will need to be identified, an investigation into why the stressor causes distress, recognizing what emotional attitude is tied to each, and the defensive or negative feelings or perceptions will require acknowledgment. From here the person must be willing to reappraise the situation from alternate viewpoints with an open frame of mind with the intent of locating a more neutral and positive stance to handle the issue without rationalizing or suppressing emotions, one with acceptance for what is out of their control.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge for the individual working on cognitive restructuring, or attitudinal change, is in the act of implementing the desired and new outlook they have created. Breaking habits and being comfortable with the unknown can be frightening, which is usually when defense mechanisms will kick in and the familiar responses will come out. Adopting or substituting old, less favorable attitudes and behaviors with more appealing responses takes practice, but the more they are repeated and the more the positive results are experienced they will become as natural as their predecessors. It is crucial, however, with every change, to take the time to evaluate its outcome. The goal is to benefit from the hard work, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and continue to make adjustments.”

In my Certified Life Coaching programs your Life Coach, Recovery Coach, or Wellness Coach will work with you through the Turning Leaves unique curriculum Building Milestones to develop all three of these stress management strategies along with a great deal of other capabilities that promote a calm mind, decrease negative perceptions, let go of toxic feelings, and promote realistic perspectives and thoughtful perceptions.

To learn more, click here, complete the inquiry. Or to get started today! Complete the Begin my quality of life form here. Either one will send me confidential notification and I will contact you directly.