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Parent Coaching is an empowerment model to support a parent's finding their answers and solving their problems through coaching questions and conversations. This is in contrast to the psychotherapy areas.
Within the psychotherapy and counseling domains, a client employs a professional with a degree in psychology, counseling, or medicine. Often the sessions are held at the therapist’s office. An insurance company may pay the invoice.
Often the sessions are held at the therapist’s office. An insurance company may pay the invoice. This is a medical model:
- The doctor or therapist has a “practice"”
- Is employed to treat people for their mental health issues or personality disorder.
- A third party like insurance may cover the cost of these services.
In psychotherapy, the assumption is to treat the symptoms and underlying causes. For example, a client may enter psychotherapy because he gets into fights at work with his supervisors. After a few sessions in which he brings up his past and talks about his possible causes that contribute to the fights, the client realizes that he is repeating problems he had with his parents with his boss. In fact, he realizes that he has deliberately chosen a boss who reminds him of his father.
The underlying assumption in a coaching session is that the client is well and resourceful and can handle his or her life.
If this same client were to hire a coach, the coach would ask empowering questions and challenge his thinking about handling the boss issues. A coach does not delve into a client’s past, but focuses on the present time, issue or goal and future steps.
I was a licensed therapist, and I like coaching better. In coaching, the client is whole, resourceful, and ready for change. Yet, the model in therapy is that the client is broken. As a therapist, I used to only listen and never give my opinion. Sometimes I felt as if I could be replaced by a mannequin.”
In coaching, the WHY is not as important! Coaches deal with the HOW. Parent Coaches listen to goals, problems, or issues and with encouragement and expertise partner in discovering solutions or supporting transformations.
Therapy is about looking backwards. Coaching is about working with today. We deal with what is now.
… Jill Herman
Coaches review a client’s strengths and focus on them. The medical/psychological establishment focuses on problems and pathology. We look at wellness and not what is broken. If a coach finds a true pathology, the coach refers that person to a psychologist or other appropriate specialist. Troubled persons with long-standing problems may not think rationally and require a different therapeutic approach.
In parent coaching, the model is that the client is whole, healthy, and wants to achieve goals. He is open to discussion, brainstorming, and looking to the future, not the past.
My ideal client is between 35 and 65. She may be married or divorced with one or two children. She is middle class, educated, and lives in a middle-to-upper class neighborhood.
She has always been financially independent. She owns her own business or would like to have a part-time business of her own. She is discerning with money, though will rarely spend it on herself unless it’s for a practical reason.
She makes lists and likes to be able to cross everything off her list, even though there is often more there than she can achieve. She compares her achievements to others as a way of gauging her worth. She often is overcritical of herself and lacks compassion for herself, though finds it for others.
She grew up in an environment where she had to take on responsibilities too early, which forced her to put aside her creative, spontaneous side and lose touch with her own needs and intuition. As a result, she is an over-responsible, independent, strong adult. She is dependable and tries to be there for others, whether it is in her best interest or not. She is overly loyal and often takes care of others because she feels like she should because nice people do that.
She follows the rules. She lives a lot in her own head and is afraid of making the wrong decision. She is a thinker and analyzer. As a result, she has lost touch with her own feelings and needs.
She has difficulty setting boundaries with others until circumstances become extreme. When she does set a boundary, she feels guilty and often softens the boundary or changes it to suit the other person. She says “yes” when she doesn’t want to, then feels resentful. She doesn’t have a good sense of self-worth and therefore has difficulty honoring herself.
She’s unaware of her own values and using them as a way of navigating life or making decisions. She makes decisions out of fear or guilt. Only when she feels she’s been pushed too far will she get angry and lash out or finally give herself what she wants.
She is a busy person who experiences free-floating anxiety during quiet moments. She tries to get out of these feelings by staying busy, eating, or distracting herself with Internet activities. She is afraid to feel “negative” feelings for fear they will lead to something bad or shut her down completely. She is knowledgeable about positive thinking and feels guilty or fearful if she isn't thinking constructively.
She has a spiritual reference (God, the Universe, Spirit, Higher Self) and may engage in a spiritual practice. She has trouble with meditation because her mind is constantly busy. She loves self-help books, psychology, and spirituality (especially relationship books, Law of Attraction, and codependency). She loves to read or learn about these things so she can fix her problems. When an issue arises, a book or self-help source soothes her. She feels in control of the problem.
She is afraid to let go of control. She has difficulty relaxing and will often need to eat, drink, or distract herself with Internet use to relax.
She is constantly thinking about the future and the next moment. She’d like to have more fun or nurturing activities, but can’t give herself permission or justify them. She often feels overwhelmed and drained. Her feelings seem to vacillate between anxious and depressed.
She can be found working on her computer either from home or at coffee shops, running errands, and taking care of the people in her life. She enjoys bookstores and self-growth classes. She has a creative side, though it is undeveloped and not given priority. She has a worldly cause she believes in that she may or may not be aware of yet. She enjoys people and has friends, but doesn’t make relationships a priority – this can be because of lack of time or lack of energy.
She has difficulty trusting or being intimate with men. She often attracts untrustworthy or needy men. (Or this could describe her relationship to a husband.)
Her greatest desire is to learn to love herself. She realizes she doesn’t treat herself well and wants to change. Yet she feels caught in shame or guilt when taking steps toward this.
She is tired of feeling anxious and depressed. She wants to feel better about herself and her relationships but does not know how, despite the self-help books.
She is attracted to my sense of self-acceptance, non-judgment, safety, optimism, and trust in myself and a Higher Power for my safety and future.
She is ready to work with me because she sees my story and wants the balance and security I’ve achieved within myself. She feels seen and safe.
I offer her a place to begin to get to know her own feelings and emotions without fear. I show her how to feel her feelings in a way that will allow, heal them, and lead her to hear her own Inner Voice. She feels encouraged to listen to and take action toward her own needs and self-care. She experiences more self-love, self-compassion, and self-trust.
She feels more settled in her body and is able to feel good about herself and her decisions. When she makes a mistake, she sees the growth and good without shame. Though life may present her challenges, she feels more confident in herself and in life to take care of her. She is able to be with others in a way that allows her to be real and unafraid. She is able to lovingly set boundaries. Her relationship with herself and others are healthier because she is different inside. She now honors herself and is able to present with others in a way that honors them.
New ideas and desires arise in her as a result. She is more in touch with her body, needs, and emotions. She knows more of what she needs and where her limits are. She knows herself and how to take care of herself under stress. She has the resources, tools, and knowledge to handle her life. She can hear own Inner Voice and feels empowered to take risks towards what she desires.