I’ve dumped lots of therapists.
They hate it.
I’ve had therapists bend over backwards to accommodate my (intentionally unpredictable) schedule, reduce their fees to amounts that wouldn’t cover my weekly Starbucks consumption, ignore my wish completely or attempt to plow into sessions-long conversations about why.
When I pressed one poor therapist about when therapy should end, her answer appalled me.
“I want my clients to come and talk and talk and talk until there’s nothing left to talk about anymore.”
I do not mean to disparage therapy.
Therapy delves into the past to identify and correct emotional problems and destructive patterns.
One can find catharsis in elucidating innermost thoughts, in sharing one’s story of suffering.
One therapist likened therapy to a warm bath — comfortable, warm, private, utterly enveloping.
But the “warm bath” of sharing one’s suffering isn’t entirely benign.
Myelin is the rage in scientific circles.
It is a substance in the brain that wraps itself around and insulates neural pathways.
Myelin grows in response to practice — whether I’m practicing a Chopin etude or sharing my suffering with a caring therapist.
Lots of practice means lots of myelin.
Lots of myelin means strong neural pathways and seemingly intractable habits.
The more I share my suffering the more easily my brain stays stuck in it.
My mind, if undisciplined or uncoached, becomes trapped in my story.
I call this “story fondling.”
Coaching is different than therapy because there is an end in mind.
The goal of the coach, and of any good teacher, is to train the client to be independent of the coach.
Daniel Coyle explains in the brilliant “Little Book of Talent” that the term coach is derived from the Hungarian term “kocsi,” meaning “carriage.” Coyle explains, when selecting a coach or teacher, “you’re not looking for a buddy or a parent figure. You’re looking for someone solid, someone you trust, someone with whom you take a journey.”
This is a journey with an end, or at the very least, a specific goal, in sight.
Coaching focuses on the present. As your coach, I am your partner, teacher and confidante.
Am I interested in the story? I want to learn all about you. And I’ll even listen to the details of your shitty day. We call this the “brain dump.”
But we don’t fondle the story.
We tell the story and we respond with “Yes, And. . . .”
Where do we go from here? The story is a springboard for creativity — not a reason to stay stuck.
© Liora Powers