What I Learned as a Therapist Interested in Coaching
"No matter how long you have traveled in the wrong direction, you can always turn around" -Anonymous
I'm impulsive. I feel like I have learned so much from my life experiences and have so much to give back. I'm a helper who likes hearing others' stories to brainstorm possible strategies. At my current job, I don't get to build those relationships with other people. I don't get to run groups or really hear people's stories. Its crisis intervention. A 911 call comes in, law enforcement goes out to assess the situation, and any calls that involve a mentally ill person, we are requested to come out. The team that goes out to help with the call is made up of one mental health clinician and a law enforcement officer. We go out in unmarked cars and our partners wear a different type of uniform. I enjoy it. We get out of the car with a clipboard in hand, our badge, and we are the mental health professional on the scene. I never imagined myself where I am today. With that said, It's a completely different type of work where I don't get to see the same people every week.
I decided that I wanted to do something outside of work where I can still work with people individually. I looked into coaching. I have the capabilities to do therapy but my last job ruined it for me. I was burnt out. I also realized how restricting therapy is and how mundane it can become. In my experience with government mental health agencies, it felt like it was all about the money. Forms, paperwork, and different assessment were prioritized. Sometimes it felt like it was impossible to truly help clients, which is what we really wanted to do. There were so many steps to get started. So many hurdles for prospective clients to go through to connect to a therapist. We have to write notes after every session within 24 hours. It was very stressful.
Another thing that was hard to deal with was feeling like a robot. In the therapeutic relationship, we are not allowed or encouraged to disclose anything about ourselves. We have a code of ethics to abide by. We want to make sure that we are respectful to the client and not making the session about ourselves. But how could a client truly feel comfortable with me or relate to me if they know nothing about me? It felt very cold sometimes. If I related a client's story or wanted to share I really wouldn't.
Sometimes it felt like it was impossible to truly help clients, which is what we really wanted to do.
I decided I wanted to do coaching because although it isn't therapy, it still allowed me to work with clients individually. It allowed me to still be able to help clients deal with life obstacles without the super strict process that therapy has. It also allowed me to be able to connect on another level because it allows me to share my own personal story or parts of it with the client. Kind of like being a friend to my clients. I was super excited about this journey and started doing research on what going from therapist to coach looked like. I joined a ton of Facebook groups, read a lot of articles, etc. I wish I would have found something that was straightforward rather than trying to convince me to just do it. I decided to sign up for an intensive coaching program where they prepare everyday people and educate them to become personal life coaches.
The program was great and very informative. It's structured into weekly virtual classes, homework, and practice sessions to be completed with your classmates. I didn't know what to expect but was very excited and eager. When I attended my first class, I remember thinking "the program will get better". Don't get me wrong, the program is phenomenal but as a therapist, I found it to be very underwhelming. So this was my experience. Each class covered a topic that I felt that I was already familiar with and had utilized with many past clients. Not only that, but once I started doing the practice sessions, I had a hard time taking my therapist hat off. Coaching focused on present obstacles and is future-oriented while therapy can cover a bigger range of things like past trauma, addiction, mental illnesses, etc. While I was sitting in sessions, I couldn't help wanting to know more.
I slowly drifted away from my program and sorta regretted that I signed up. I say this to say that sometimes we have to slow down. We can get stuck with constantly thinking about the next best thing or feeling like we need to do more to be happy. Sometimes happiness is right in front of us. I learned to approach ideas in a new way where I think about pros and cons. I learned to not act out of impulse. I know that not all my readers are a therapist and probably won't relate 100 percent to my experience but think about a time when you thought you needed more or wanted to achieve more but then changed your mind. I still love connecting with and helping others but I learned that I have what it takes. I don't need anything more. I have to be confident in myself and my abilities instead of doubting myself. I guess my biggest takeaway is to stop doubting myself when I want to pursue something different. Be confident in your abilities and don't second guess yourself. You don't constantly have to go for the next goal, the next best thing, or always be working toward something. Appreciate the present moment and all that you have accomplished up to this point.
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