Have you ever been curious about what the benefits of coaching versus the benefits of psychotherapy are?
I was certainly curious about it before diving into this world of life balance, health & wellness.
Let me start by saying that they are both amazing paths for personal development and growth. And although they may seem very similar, I think there is a huge underlying difference between each one that I want to highlight here.
Note that this is all strictly based on my own personal experience and knowledge.
With that said, I want to walk you through some details of my own personal experience.
I’m laying in bed, thinking about how I felt in general, about life, about my job, about my accomplishments, and all I could picture was myself inside a dark hole, and every single effort I made to get out would dig myself deeper into it.
I voiced my experience with my [then] husband at the time (now ex-husband) and he immediately recognized I was depressed. Hearing this brought immense fear. I was loosely familiar with depression, and in my head it was a BIG BAD THING!
After doing a bit of research online, I booked my first session. Sitting in front of Mary, my amazing therapist, for the first time was surreal. How the heck did I get here? How did I let this happen? These were normal reactions, especially for someone who is used to controlling everything.
When I opened my mouth and started talking about how I was feeling, I immediately started crying, what Mary said next is something I will never forget: why are you smiling?
Yeah, I had a huge grin on my face while I was crying. This was a complete unconscious reaction that I had never noticed before. I hated crying, it was a sign of weakness in my head (not the healthy release of negative emotions that actually is and after years of therapy I have come to understand).
In my head, there was SO MUCH WRONG with me now that she had pointed out I was smiling.
So much shame, so much anger, just “wrong” emotions. I was supposed to be happy, smile my way through life and be a good person.
For a few months, I would go weekly to sessions, sometimes bi-weekly. I had no idea why Mary kept asking me about my family, my parents, my relationships. I wanted a fix, I wanted her to fix me, quick, can I take the shortcut and magic pill, please?
Oh boy, was I naive. I’ve come to learn that through psychotherapy you start uncovering the layers upon layers that have been formed on top of your true self. The labels, the experiences, the behaviors I saw growing up were like walls built around my own real self. I had completely lost sight of who that was, therefore I was really confused when I found myself really far away from who I truly am.
It’s taken about 5-6 years to break down most of those walls, and at this stage I can finally see them more like sheets or paper thin walls, where I am aware when I am acting from pure unconscious societal conditioning versus when I am honoring who I am and what I truly want.
Psychotherapy helped me realize:
- There was NOTHING wrong with me
- I had a lot of work to do
- I can only go as far as I am willing to put the effort
- The work never really stops
- To be kind and easy with myself
- There is NOBODY to blame for my depression or anxiety. It is simply the way I unconsciously thought I would protect myself while my little girl inside was frightened that she was never going to fit in.
Coaching, on the other hand, is the how, it gives you a giant glimpse of who you are and it really pushes some boundaries.
My first experience with coaching was almost 3 years ago. I had heard of life coaching, health coaches, but never really had experienced it.
I joined a group program, one that was promising (in my head) to get me to the next level in life. One that was going to propel my income, change things overnight and just get to that finish line, so I could sit down, relax and enjoy all these amazing results.
Again, as any other human being, I was looking for the quick-fix, magic pill solution.
Oh geez, was I in for a treat!
Coaching challenges you to dig deep. To really go inside, to work through strategic questions about life while giving you the tools to break some inner barriers. It puts the spotlight on your potential and gives you all the different ways you can achieve it.
What I learned through coaching was the most important lesson I have gotten so far in life:
I AM WORTHY & ENOUGH
The first time I came to this realization I cried the entire weekend because again, I could not believe how far a had strayed away and how I had internalized the messages from others and attached them to my self-worth.
Coaching also helped me communicate better during therapy. I now see Mary and we talk about how during that first year of therapy I was so conditioned to act a certain way I would have never ever realized what I was doing to please others which was ultimately hurting myself.
In the end, whether you do psychotherapy or hire a coach, the results you get are based on the effort YOU put in.
It’s like an electrician installing a light switch in your room:
You know what is there to do, you know the potential, but the electrician cannot be in there every single day of your life turning on or off your light. You have to flip the switch to get the outcome you want.
Here is what I hope you gathered from this post:
Psychotherapy helps you understand your social conditioning (the why) and allows you to bring those unconscious thoughts out to the front of your mind. The more you ask yourself why the clearer the answers will come. Psychotherapy gives you some tools to get a deeper understanding of these conditionings and your reactions.
Coaching, on the other hand, gives you a different set of tools to also put in the work, but it is not asking you why you got to be where you are, it is showing you how you can dig yourself out of that dark hole, that unfulfilling job, those freaking stubborn extra pounds, the uneasiness of trying to be everything to everyone or be everywhere, or lack of motivation, and the list goes on and on.
Coaching shows you how you can do this, but the biggest benefit of “the how” from coaching is that at the end, all the answers were inside of you. Therapy and coaching will open the curtains to the stage, but you my friend have to show up and DO THE DANCE of life!
You my dear hold the truth to your limitless life.
PS = One of the tools that helped me create an amazing life and awareness is affirmations. Download your free morning affirmation cheat sheet right here.