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Relationship COACHING

Relationship COACHING

"Coaching" is a widely-used term with various meanings, depending on the situation. It implies a sense of agreement, consent and willing participation on the part of the 'coachee' (apprentice/student/couple). Relationship Coaching ideally helps a couple find mutually beneficial solutions, rather than prescribing one particular solution from the coach's viewpoint.

   Coaching generally focuses on looking forward significantly more than it analyses the past. Coaching is a field that is generally unregulated and not subject to formal licensure qualification, although coaching is commonly practiced by qualified specialists in various disciplines such as psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, hypnotherapists, or sex therapists. 

    Relationship coaching is a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate, and guide people going through couple struggles and assist them in making the best possible decisions for their future, based on their particular interests, needs, and concerns.

   Sessions are individualized/personalized and can be scheduled in office for face-to-face appointments, by telephone or by Skype. All sessions are billed at the same rate (price per hour), regardless of venue. Sessions are typically weekly (initially) and last from 30-60 minutes. The focus is on improving couple communication, conflict resolution, and relationship satisfaction (as defined by the couple). The coach's role is facilitative, and not compulsory or prescriptive. 


What’s the Difference between Coaching and Psychotherapy?

     If you are reading this section, it is because you may have some questions about the difference between traditional psychotherapy and "coaching." But before I address the differences, I want to congratulate you for wanting to make some positive changes in your life and/or in your relationship.

     Therapy techniques, steeped in specific psychological philosophies, focus on helping patients first, identify the sources of conflicts and dysfunction, and second, aid in providing solutions and symptom relief for emotional distress. It is especially appropriate for helping victims of trauma, domestic violence, clinical depression, anxiety disorders, and severe psychopathology to understand the basis of the problem(s) and find ways to cope with these difficulties in a healthier way. Most psychological philosophies are based on a "Medical Model" and thus focus on pathology.

  "Coaching" (generally referred to as "Life Coaching"), on the other hand, is designed for people who are already functioning fairly well and handling life's day-to-day stressors but want more. It can also be a vehicle to assist individuals achieve higher goals and for couples to improve communication skills and thereby have a healthier relationship. It is based on the premise that couple's aren’t "sick;" they just need some education and training that focuses on what's already good and helps to make it better.

     Much like psychotherapy, coaching is about goal setting and achieving specific outcomes, but it does not involve intensive emotional processing. "Targeted" coaching helps you plan out strategies and makes you accountable each step of the way. It is task-oriented and goal-specific.

   Transformational Life Coaching (TLC), however, focuses on transforming WHO you are at the core, so you can access your true Self, giving you more clarity and inspiration in all areas of your life. Like patient-centered psychotherapy, transformational life coaching challenges you to face emotional issues in your life (in the service rising above previous hurdles) and becoming a more confident person. Unlike therapy approaches which emphasize "recovery," the techniques used in TLC invite you to dream beyond your current limiting ideas and situation. It involves a combination of growth-inducing insight techniques and action-based, purposeful intention exercises with the goal of helping you achieve the fulfilling life that has previously eluded you.

    In an article by Bill Cole, MS, MA, Founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, Silicon Valley, California, he outlines what he believes to be the basic differences between "therapists" and "coaches." His assumptions are as follows:

  1. COACHING is an educational, discovery-based process of human potential.
    THERAPY is based on the medical model that says people have psychiatric maladies that need to be repaired.

  2. COACHING focuses on self-exploration, self-knowledge, professional development, performance enhancement and better self-management.
    THERAPY seeks to heal emotional wounds.

  3. COACHING takes clients to the highest levels of performance and life satisfaction.
    THERAPY seeks to bring clients from a dysfunctional place to a healthy functioning level.

  4. COACHING rarely asks about your childhood or family life.
    THERAPY continuously explores early-childhood, family and relationship issues.

  5. COACHING uses the terms blockages and obstructions to denote what needs to be removed.
    THERAPY uses the term "pathology" to describe the "patient's" issues.

  6. COACHING focuses more on the present and future.
    THERAPY focuses more on the past and present.

  7. COACHING advances the client's potential.
    THERAPY "cures" the patient.

  8. COACHING is used by people who already are succeeding, but who want to succeed even more and at a faster rate.
    THERAPY is used by people whose lives are not working.

  9. COACHING focuses more on thoughts and behavior and how the client acts and thinks about things.
    THERAPY focuses more on emotions and how the client feels about things.

  10. COACHING comes out of the human potential movement and the performance world.
    THERAPY has its roots in the medical model.

  11. COACHING focuses on solving problems in the now.
    THERAPY explores the historical roots of problems.

  12. COACHING works with the client's conscious mind.
    THERAPY focuses on bringing the patient's unconscious mind into awareness.

  13. COACHING focuses on creating the future.
    THERAPY seeks to heal the past.

  14. COACHING seeks to bring more power, control and joy to the client.
    THERAPY seeks to remove the client's pain.

  15. COACHING assumes a co-equal partnership between coach and client.
    THERAPY assumes the therapist to be more of the expert, and in control.

  16. COACHING has strategies and objectives.
    THERAPY has a treatment plan.

  17. COACHING asks "What is next?"
    THERAPY asks "Why"?

  18. COACHING helps clients design their lives.
    THERAPY resolves issues.

  19. COACHING takes an active, energetic approach.
    THERAPY takes a more passive, reflective, background approach.

  20. COACHING focuses on what is possible.
    THERAPY focuses on what is the problem.

  21. COACHING is goal-oriented, solution-focused and results and action-oriented.
    THERAPY mainly seeks to increase patient insight, yet some therapists are solution-focused.

  22. COACHING may also utilize feedback from bosses, peers and subordinates.
    THERAPY usually involves only the patient and therapist.

  23. COACHING takes the client from where they are and helps them move forward.
    THERAPY examines unfin

  24. ished emotional business from all stages of life.

You can see that coaching essentially assumes that the client is OK, and is full of potential, whereas therapy assumes the client is "sick" or "dysfunctional" and seeks to heal them so they function "normally."


   As you will notice, his slant toward "therapy" is somewhat pejorative. However, if you examine each of these tenants closely, you will see that they are more similar to traditional psychotherapy than different.

     I was trained to conceptualize and treat patients in many different modalities: psychoanalysis, psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, gestalt therapy, Imago therapy, family therapy, couples therapy and even "supportive therapy" which could be likened to "coaching." To this day, I consider myself to be primarily psychodynamic in clinical orientation, but I am flexible in my approach to understanding the matrix of the mind and the pragmatic realities of patient needs and their ability to afford therapy.

    That said, I only explore a person's past if it significantly helps that person understand and master those habits, feelings, and thoughts that hold them back from achieving their most cherished goals. I pinpoint factors of the patient's conscious experience, that may, in fact, be compromised by thoughts, feelings, beliefs and self-limiting behaviors that have ties to unconscious drives. I also focus on how patient's interactions are a function of the various social systems and values in which he or she is influenced by. 

    Also, I often work in a time-limited manner, and focus on the desired behavioral outcomes (set forth at the beginning of therapy) as a tangible measure of therapeutic success. I am predominantly concerned with seeing perceptible changes in a person's real life experiences; this includes actualizing maximum potential, promoting growth and self-actualization, improving efficiency and productivity at work, cultivating communication skills that facilitate more satisfying relationships, overcoming inhibitions, and focusing on solutions not problems. 

   While understanding unconscious drives and family-of-origin mores and values that shaped and influenced childhood experiences aren’t always my focus, I find it extremely helpful to keep these principles in mind as a means of understanding the vicissitudes of human suffering and dis-ease. In contrast, and in keeping with a WELLNESS MODEL (what's right with a person) versus a "pathology model" (what's wrong with a person) I strive to make relatively healthy people healthier as well as to alleviate the suffering brought on by clinically diagnosable problems. If you compare these premises with the fundamental principles of "coaching," they actually complement one another.

     When to transition from "coaching" to "psychotherapy:"

    A final consideration in examining the difference between clinical psychology and coaching is how to determine if "coaching" is actually working for you. You have invested time and money with a professional coach with the hopes that you would have improvements in your life. However, if you have been in a coaching situation and find yourself at a crossroads, here are some things you may want to think about as you consider transitioning to a professional clinician for psychological help:

  • You spend an inordinate amount of time venting about negative emotions and stressful situations in your life rather than focusing on the goals you set forth with your coach.

  • You become defensive or overly sensitive to constructive criticism.

  • You have fears or phobias that have not been helped in coaching, and/or they have become more complicated as a result of the coaching experience.

  • You avoid talking about critical issues germane to your coaching goals, out of fear, embarrassment or shame.

  • Your coach expresses frustration about the fact that you don’t do your homework, follow-through with assignments, or speak openly about the concerns that caused you to employ a coach.

  • You have a strong personal reaction to your coach (negative or positive), which can lead to "boundary" problems that get in the way of the professional coaching relationship.


  • You meet diagnosable criteria for depression, severe anxiety disorders, or have addiction issues (impairing multiple areas in your life) that exceed the scope, purpose, and intent of a coaching relationship.

  • You can't seem to make progress on your goals and keep hashing over the same themes that keep you stuck.

    In summary, make no mistake, there is, in my mind a clear distinction between "psychotherapy" and "coaching." Although there are many types of "specialty coaching," I limit my practice to RELATIONSHIP COACHING. Basically, relationship coaching is based on the premise that conflict can actually provide an opportunity to improve relationships, to create mutually satisfactory solutions, and to attain other positive outcomes when differences arise between couples. 

     Many couples present with situation-specific problems, that are usually immersed in long-standing conflicts that may or may not have anything to do with the current struggles at hand. These issues are relatively easy to identify, and within a few sessions, generally speaking, couples can experience relief and focus on building a more meaningful, and fulfilling union together.

    Furthermore, not all couples need "therapy," especially couples who are discussing marriage and want to increase the odds between being in the 50 percent success camp versus the 50 percent failure category. Dr. Karen's Pre-marital Boot Camp and Dr. Karen's Relationship Boot Camp were designed with this premise in mind.

    Finally, sometimes couples need a little more assistance in improving their relationship after the clinical (or dysfunctional) problems have been solved in traditional therapy. Relationship coaching provides an ideal transition and forum to accomplish these goals. 

   If you are considering investing in a personal coach, and want to explore your options, feel free to schedule an appointment at 954-779-2855. CHANGE in a possible, and you and your beloved are just a phone call away from re-connecting and experiencing relationship bliss again.

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