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Have you had a friend who gets frustrated with the men she’s dating? To you, they all seem to be the same kind of guy who treat her in the same way but she seems oblivious to the glaring similarities you often point out. Then, after a few thrilling but disastrous months, she ends it and finds herself alone again and in despair.

Lo and behold, soon after, she meets someone new and is on top of the world. “He’s different” she says. You meet him and to your horror, see a new version of every other guy she’s ever dated! The trouble is, even though you try to tell her she can’t hear you till it crumbles again.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asks in desperation. Well, we often can’t hear our friends because they protect us from the pain of seeing the truth. Friends are there to walk side by side with us, sharing in our joys and sorrows. If we’re lucky, our closest friends become like family, knowing our life stories and our biggest vulnerabilities. As part of our cheerleading team, they push us to do our best.

Who to call on when your friends can’t help

When it comes to telling us the hard truths, the challenge is, friends sometimes can’t push us out of our comfort zone. They do try and some actually hold a mirror for us to see our own detrimental self-fulfilling prophecies. But because strong long term relationships often recycle the same problems, they also get stuck in the inability to see things in a new way. What usually happens is they then ask a third party to help because they’ve run out of ideas on how to support you.

Fortunately, there are experienced truth tellers out there, people with an ability to reflect back someone’s problem in a new way. A way filled with insight to shift from repeating problematic patterns, to understanding why the problem began and your place in it. 

Coaches and therapists are some of the people who can help you see what you do not see. As part of what are called the helping professions, they are experts in supporting people nurture their intellectual, psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. By providing a safe and nurturing environment for individuals or groups, coaches’ and therapists’ only goal is to serve the best interests of the people they work with.

Going back to the story of the friend with the repeating patterns in her dating life, seeing a life or relationship coach or therapist may be just what she needs to break her cycle. 

The difference between Coaching and Therapy

A coach works with people to focus on facilitating change, guided growth and active problem solving. Coaches support people to create the degree of change they want to see by clarifying the vision of who they want to become. 

A therapist on the other hand, also known as a counselor, is someone who’s trained to work with people to overcome emotional and mental disorders such as anxiety, relationship challenges, stress and grief. 

A key difference though is that coaches work with those seeking personal growth by actively problem solving and encouraging change. Coaches match a persons’ personal potential with the actions to get them to their goal. They do not teach but they do allow a space for learning by mining jewels from the person’s own life story. The focus is always on the betterment of the person. 

Therapists are trained to also work with people facing more life threatening challenges such as people with dependencies such as drugs and alcohol, those who’ve suffered abuse or are abusing others and also people experiencing mental illness. Most therapists are not be directive but they do provide a space for treatment and rehabilitation.

Three basic things you need to know before reaching out to a coach or therapist

Training and Credentials

Coaches do not require licensing to practice in most countries of the world. Anyone can brand themselves a coach. However there are renowned coaching certifications if you are looking to work with someone trained. Look out for the following badges if this a requirement for you: International Coach Federation, Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, John Maxwell Team Member. 

There are tens of other excellent coach certifications for specific niches like Relationship, Life or Leadership coaching, all you need to do is find out more. However, there are many experienced and powerful coaches without a certification who have transformed people’s lives. Because many coaches began through a personally inspired calling, meaning that some people are just really good at helping people better themselves, also consider them as you search for a coach.

Therapists require training dependent on the countries laws in which they practice and licensing boards for psychotherapists and counsellors. Some have short term training of less than one year which meets the basic requirements for counselling. The most qualified however have done a graduate degree in any number of psychology fields (counselling psychology, clinical psychology, marriage and family therapy to name a few). Some continue with post graduate education. 

It is within your right to ask for their credentials as they see more sensitive life issues.

Rapport (will you get along?)

The first meeting is really about administration and seeing if your coach or therapist is right for you. Remember, the purpose of coaching or therapy is to serve the best interests of the client and so if you do not feel they are a good fit for you, you can look for someone else. 

The reason why many people give up on help is because the first person they met did not gel well with them. Either they felt judged, unheard or the helper just didn’t know what they were doing. Know that this happens and then keep looking. There are excellent coaches and therapists out there waiting to serve you. Just keep trying, you will find a good fit.

Costs

Different people charge different prices. It doesn’t mean that the less expensive the helper, the less quality they are or vice versa. However, doing this kind of work requires a 100% presence, awareness, education, research and the ability to give of oneself. In light of this, coaching or therapy are professions requiring financing for the coach to provide of their time in a profitable manner. Do your research on charges in your local area.

Services like these are usually not budgeted for, however, for someone needing to level up their life, prioritizing coaching or therapy may mean reprioritizing finances too. Ultimately the growth gained from the right relationship will be worth it. 

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