Life coaching is available for people who want a more relaxed, supportive and direct approach to problem-solving, and don't need the more intensive, in-depth services that psychotherapy provides.
Life coaching is a supportive approach to strategic planning, values clarification, brainstorming, and goal-setting to help you reach identified goals. It is most useful in situations where there is a specific problem that needs to be addressed, or when ongoing support is needed related to personal growth or achieving academic, career or even relationship goals. It is particularly helpful with parenting struggles that could benefit from developing improved skills, but don't require the services of individual or family therapy.
During our initial meeting, I will quickly try to gather information about your most pressing concerns, along with relevant history related to you, or to your child if concerns relate to parenting or educational consultation. Although some people feel nervous at first, once the conversation gets started, it becomes easier to share information. I also will ask about your goals, and see if we can develop a plan for achieving them. We will focus on your specific concerns and I will try to help you come up with the best solution to the problem.
The goals of psychotherapy focus on alleviating symptoms, understanding the underlying dynamics that create these symptoms, changing problem behaviors, and developing new strategies for successfully coping with psychological problems. The therapist uses diagnostic techniques, theoretical foundations, and research-based strategies to understand clients and develop treatment goals. Psychotherapy is considered a health care service and is usually reimbursable through health insurance plans, which is not true for coaching or consultation.
On the other hand, educational consultation services or coaching provide education and information related to a specific area of concern. Strategic planning, values clarification, brainstorming, and goal-setting are used to reach identified goals. The relationship between the consultant and client is more direct, relaxed and challenging than between therapist and client, and not intended to offer therapeutic support.
(Note: Life coaching or educational consultation are not the best option when a psychoeducational evaluation or psychotherapy is needed. If you contact me and it seems clear that coaching would not serve your needs, I will refer you to the appropriate services.)
Life coaching has been around for a while, and people from a range of backgrounds have worked in this field. Yet it is surprising to note that there are no state governing boards granting licensure or credentialing for coaching, or that oversee the quality of training programs, enforce rules and laws, or ensure that coaches adhere to a code of ethics.
While life coaching differs from psychotherapy (as noted above), my training and expertise as a psychologist always informs my work in the role of a life coach. And unlike many life coaches without training as psychologists, I won't focus on myself, offer guidance solely based on my personal experiences, or insist that I know what it best and that you must follow what I recommend. Instead, I will offer ideas and strategies, suggest reasons for possible roadblocks, and help you decide what works best for you and your family.
If you are the parent of a gifted child, you have probably tried a variety of options: meetings with teachers, discussions with family and friends, books, internet searches, testing, and perhaps even counseling. Now you may be looking for some straightforward advice regarding decisions related to your gifted child's academic choices and emotional well-being. Or you just might need an opportunity to sort out and prioritize goals for your child without any possible conflict of interest that can sometimes occur, for example, in schools burdened by budgetary or philosophical constraints. You can learn more here about coaching for parents of intellectually and/or musically gifted children.
Workshops and programs are also available for gifted children in schools. This includes consultation with staff, parent workshops and workshops on social/emotional needs for middle school and high school students.
If you are interested in learning more about Life Coaching or Gifted Challenges Educational Consultation Services, please contact me directly to see if these services are the right approach for you.
Also, more information about social and emotional aspects of giftedness, parenting concerns and advocacy can be found on my blog, Gifted Challenges.