As parents, we so often put our children ahead of ourselves. Depending on our circumstances, this is normal and warranted. When our children are infants and toddlers, there isn’t much time for anything other than caring for them. Even as they grow older, the amount of attention we need to give them can vary depending on the child — but generally it decreases, as children become increasingly independent.
What happens when it’s time to focus on what we want? What if we’re so out of practice that we don’t know what to do?
Outside help can be the solution — and I don’t mean a therapist. That might sound odd, coming from a therapist, but the truth is that not everyone who wants help needs therapy. I’ve encountered several people who don’t need the deep-dive that therapy provides. They do, however, need someone to point out behaviors that might be keeping them from getting where they want to go.
The Difference Between Therapy & Coaching
When there’s something stopping you from functioning well, therapy can help. Often there is mental illness, like depression or OCD, trauma or loss. Sometimes you need to dive into the past — but not always.
On the other hand, coaching can help you make (or go through) a change. You receive skillful guidance that isn’t deep, therapeutic work. I work with my clients to help increase their awareness of actions and inactions so that we can work on how to improve and upgrade them. Because coaching is helpful to reach a goal, it focuses on the future.
When Coaching Can Help
There comes a time when parents give their attention, once again, to their own life path. Some common examples include the parent who wants to re-enter the workforce after staying home with her children (or perhaps enter it for the first time). When children go off to college, parents may need some help transitioning to the empty-nest life.
For example, when I was a year out of my divorce, I’d started to think about how and when to leave a job I loved but no longer found satisfying. I knew I didn’t need therapy, but I wanted someone to ask me the questions that would help me figure it out. I wanted expert guidance to keep me progressing. One of my closest friends recommended coaching. It was just what I needed. It helped me develop the courage to open my own practice, to start writing, and to become a Gestalt-certified coach.
Once You’re Ready
The key to being successfully coached is to be willing to put forth the effort. Asking thought-provoking questions, a coach makes you aware of your behavior. This lays the groundwork for change. Then the coach offers different ways of being and doing. Ultimately, coaching helps you define your goals and then guides you on how to best achieve them.