If you are reading this, chances are you are experiencing a problem and one of your personal values is to do something about it. You have likely weighed your options of venting to a good friend against seeing a coach or a therapist. I’ll start out by saying it’s not uncommon to hear this “Why should I hire a life coach when I can talk to my best friend? I don’t need a therapist, I have Julie. I don’t want to open up to a stranger.” and so on and so forth. Does this sound familiar?:)
As a general rule I don’t take on clients who do not believe in this work. Big part of success is believing in yourself as well as believing in getting help. I wrote this blog in hopes of bringing clarity to your decision making process on this subject. At the beginning of my path as a coach I encouraged everyone to get professional help over venting to friends. Of course I saw the value of opening up to friends but it wasn’t as effective to feeling better long term. When someone asks me if they should rely on their friends or see a coach I’d like to ask this question. What should you include in your regular diet, the fats, the protein or the carbs? Fat will keep you full and satisfied and give you energy. Protein will support your muscle mass and keep you strong. Carbs will help you stay full and fuel you. Can you sustain healthy living on just one of these foods? Which one should you stick with? The answer is - you can but not for very long.
This is precisely my approach when deciding whether to hire a coach, therapist or vent to a friend. You need all of the above in different quantities and at different times in your life. What is the difference between the three? Are they truly interchangeable? Let’s talk about the definition of a good friend. Here is mine: Someone who sees eye to eye with you and shares your beliefs. Someone who will take your ‘side’ and support you in any situation.
Next, let’s look at therapist. Borrowing this definition from Google. Therapist helps to resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues, and/or somatic responses (sensations in the body).
I think we can already see that a call with friend and therapy session are not remotely the same. Both add value but one is peanuts and the other is peanut butter. Sometimes peanuts are good, other times you want the butter. With that said having a close friend is the most beautiful thing. If you have been blessed with one, you know what a treasure such connection is. Sometimes all we need is to feel a touch of relief when being heard and understood. When it comes to long term healing and evolving we need someone who sees outside of our beliefs and blind spots. Someone who has a trained eye to what we cannot see. Someone who knows of things that we don’t even know exist. A good healthy relationship is extremely beneficial to our getting better. In fact, one of the things you would hear from such friend is to go see someone to get help.
As for the life coach, I like Tony Robbins’ definition - someone who helps you identify your goals and develop an actionable plan to achieve them. I would add that these goals are in every area of your life. Wanting to feel better is a goal. Wanting to be successful is a goal. Creating a strategy for losing weight is a goal. In my own experience with therapy and coaching I have found that therapy mostly addressed my past while coaching addressed future. Both in their own ways help shape our future, however, coaching is more future focused.
To get an amazing head start - make sure you have all three areas covered for yourself. Get your time with your friend when you want a familiar soul to comfort you and support you. Sign up for therapy when trauma is present. Throw yourself into the hands of a coach when you are ready to blaze forward.