frequently asked questions I receive, and my answers.
How is coaching different from therapy?
Therapy can teach us a great deal about ourselves, and is particularly helpful in identifying patterns of thinking, feeling, and action and that were instilled in us during childhood. Therapy is also an instrumental diagnostic method with regard to mood or personality disorders such as major depression, acute anxiety, dissociation and depersonalization, and the ongoing effects of trauma.
Coaching will also help you become far more aware of your habituated mindsets, but unlike conventional therapy, skilled coaching puts a great deal of emphasis on unearthing, and ultimately revising, the stories that keep these ways of thinking in place. While therapy tends to focus on the past as it informs your present, coaching focuses on the present as it informs the process of pursuing your goals and ambitions—of living the life you truly want. The past is relevant to coaching insofar as conditioned fears necessarily surface in the form of blocks during your journey; healing old wounds is therefore a critical component of coaching. It’s important to note, however, that these old wounds and fears are summoned within the context of revealing your most authentic, joyous, and healthful self, rather than a process prompted by the analysis of dysfunction. In my and my clients’ experience, this distinction alone points up one of the most significant differences between many forms of conventional therapy and coaching: an emphasis on self-empowerment as opposed to a primary emphasis on the roots of dysfunction. In this way, and others, therapy and coaching are complimentary, not redundant experiences.
Moreover, unlike most forms of therapy, coaching is action-oriented. As your coach, I help you recognize and claim your unique talents and passions, and in doing so I guide you to take action in service of your genuine purpose. Like therapy, coaching provides a safe and professional atmosphere wherein you process and move through blocks, but unlike your therapist, I actively hold you accountable for this process via daily support and customized homework assignments in addition to our one-on-one sessions.
I’m worried that I won’t have enough time to follow through with my assignments, and that I’ll let myself down. How much time do I need to set aside for this work?
Most of my coaching programs center on intensive 60-minute coaching sessions every two weeks. Between sessions you complete customized homework assignments and I provide support and feedback via text and email and, when necessary, phone. On average, you can plan to spend about 2-3 hours per week, including our sessions, on your coaching homework. It’s important to understand, however, that coaching will quickly transform your relationship to time, organization, planning, follow-through, and productivity; states of overwhelm will shift to an experience of satisfying fullness. My clients are invariably amazed to discover that when you implement the tools I teach, you in fact have more than enough time to accomplish whatever it is you desire (and need) to do.
What if I slip up, don’t do my homework, get into a funk, and want to quit. What happens then?
First of all, I guarantee that you will experience these or other forms of resistance during the course of your coaching. That is the nature of coaching and being coached. By its nature, coaching brings you face to face with your fears, as well as your passions, and this is, at times, uncomfortable. Indeed, it’s for exactly this reason that most people don’t achieve their dreams. Coaching is invaluable because it teaches you to greet these experiences as not only inevitable, but necessary to the growth that is at the heart of personal evolution. In the absence of skilled mentorship and support, most of us set great intentions and then beat ourselves up when we don’t follow through. Coaching intervenes at this point to help you unearth the often unconscious habits of thinking that determine the feelings that drive your actions that create your results. As you become more skilled at managing your mind, and thus your life, you also become increasingly compassionate; blame and resentment, of yourself and others, give way to compassion and curiosity. Consequently, you will develop a quality of resilience that allows you to recognize resistance for what it is: an opportunity for deepening your self-awareness, practicing self-compassion, and building your self-trust.
Do I have to be local to be coached by you?
No. I conduct our sessions via phone, which means that you can live almost anywhere in the world and work with me. While we will have the chance to work together in person if you are local, I like the phone because of its convenience for my clients, its confidentiality, and the way it facilitates focused work in-session.
What makes you different from other coaches? Why you?
First, I work with a coach. Most coaches experience coaching during their certification programs but don’t continue once they’ve completed their training. As a coach, I believe it’s vital that I model for my clients and students the practices and tools that I teach; I would never ask my clients to do something that I am not willing to do myself. Because I work with a coach, my work with you is constantly enriched by new concepts, the latest research, and the challenges and accomplishments of my own coaching experience.
Second, while my interest in coaching as a profession was sparked by my own experience as a client, that interest was well conditioned by my twenty years as a passionate tenured university professor. A longtime educator, I am also a lifelong student: I believe in the necessity of research and in contributing to, not merely partaking of, my professional field. This means that I invest regularly, and as a matter of longstanding professional and academic habit, in my own education as a coach, and I teach others, via retreats and a variety of classes in addition to private coaching, about this cutting-edge field of human inquiry and transformation.
Third, as an author, editor, and a poet I also bring a wealth of resources to our coaching relationship that is rare in the coaching industry: I draw regularly from literature when working with clients, and will often introduce concepts and tools by way of a poem, something my clients and students find particularly effective and inspiring. My facility with metaphor and association enables me to translate and customize ideas very effectively to a wide range of people.
At the same time, I know intimately the power of the creative process, and bring this experience to bear upon my coaching in concrete, tangible ways. Finally, as an experienced, award-winning, and successful teacher, I am highly skilled at sparking my clients’ innate love of learning and discovery. I believe that lasting, rewarding personal evolution is not merely a matter of improving one’s lifestyle, but of awakening and feeding the human drive to create, innovate, and problem-solve.