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Ask Coach Paradise: Coach or Couch?

Coach Paradise is here to help people make the kind of changes that will allow them to live the lives they only dream of. Recently returned to her own tropical home, she is offering her services so that others can create paradise in their lives wherever they are. No concern is too big or small for her unique coaching approach which comes with compassion, creativity and a heartfelt desire to help others produce extraordinary results. If you have a question for Coach Paradise, please send it confidentially to her at anne@coachparadise.com.
Dear Coach Paradise –
I enjoy reading your column. You have a unique approach, which seems very refreshing and different. I have some questions about whether or not coaching would be a good thing for me. I am feeling fed up and ready to finally make some changes in my life. My friends all tell me that I should find a therapist or a counselor of some kind. I have been in therapy and it helped me a lot on several occasions.
I think I now have a pretty good understanding of how my lousy childhood affected my choice of careers and relationships, and how not talking about some traumatic events made me ill and driven and very unhappy. I have cleared up a lot of that stuff (seems like a never-ending process) and my life is no longer a nightmare of one drama after another.
My problems at the moment are that I feel stuck. My job/career doesn't excite me. I am a highly paid professional and can't afford to just quit, but I dread the thought of doing this for another 20 or so years until I can retire. I am not happy with my current relationships – romantic, friendships and family. I have this constant sense of dissatisfaction and annoyance with everyone and am smart enough to realize that it's got to be me. I do love these people and know that being connected is important; I just need to get out of whatever rut I am stuck in so I stop taking my frustrations out on the people around me.
Should I follow my friends' advice and find a therapist, or would coaching be something that would help me? I need to know a bit more about the difference between them.
Signed,
Confused
Dear Confused –
You are asking some very powerful questions, which lets me know just how committed you are to recreating your life in a way that makes you happy and fulfilled. Even though you mention blaming and being annoyed with the people in your life, you actually sound like you are taking responsibility for your situation and looking for steps that you (not them) can take to get out of "the rut" you're in).
While there can be overlaps between coaching and therapy, therapy typically focuses on the psychological aspects of a person: feelings, unconscious motivations, and the impact of childhood development and trauma on current functioning. Therapy usually hones in on dysfunction and the diagnosis and treatment of problems
Coaches focus on what IS working and assume that clients have all their own answers. A coach is an active collaborator committed to what you want in your life, sometimes even more than you are. Coaches look on who people truly are (in their hearts and dreams) above and beyond their particular stories and histories. Coaches are trained to focus on how big you can be and constantly hold that big image for you – even when you can't hold it for yourself. Coaches see themselves as partnering with their clients as they discover who they really are, and what they really want so they can take steps to move forward. Coaching is future-oriented and includes taking action in the world.
The overlaps include working with strong emotions, obstacles to progress and investigating patterns that keep you spinning your wheels. It is the approaches to these that differ as I have described above. From your questions and the insight with which you describe your current situation and because you say you have seen therapists in the past and have worked on your underlying psychological issues, I think that coaching would be great for you. Any good coach will be able to tell if your situation calls for a therapist and will make a referral. It sounds like you are in a perfect place – a jumping off point so to speak – i.e. you are on the verge of some pretty exciting stuff.
Warm wishes,
Coach Paradise

Editor's note: Coach Paradise (aka Anne Nayer), Professional Life Coach, is a member of the International Coaching Federation, an MSW clinical social worker/psychotherapist, and a medical case manager with 30 years experience working with people of all shapes, sizes and challenges.
For further information about her services, call 774-4355.

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