Being a therapeutic coach is not about giving advice. Its about helping people discover their inner world, their internal environment.
Problem solving is not about providing solutions. Everyone has the solutions to their problems. What they really need is to know why they are still stuck in the problem and what to do so that they can easily move towards the solution on a path of least resistance.
If you want to be a therapeutic coach because you want to help people, think again. Helping people is not about giving them advice or providing them solutions.
Some of the qualities required to be a good therapist are:
1. Having taken your own healing journey
Going on your own healing journey is important so that you know what its all about and all that it entails. Being a therapist, an emotional or psychological therapist or a life coach is a journey in itself. Working on yourself is a huge part of that journey.
When I started my career as a therapeutic coach, I was doing what I was taught. I stumbled upon results and the path of the healing that the clients walked on. It was only when I worked on my life, took that healing journey for myself working on my own issues, that I understood the path of healing, what is it, what you feel and experience on that path and how do you handle it. Now it’s easier to understand what the clients are going through, and how to help them in their healing journey.
Each individual has a different path of healing. The details of the path are different but the overall journey is similar. Having been on that journey yourself gives you a perspective of what they are going through and how they can be helped in the best possible manner.
Also, as a therapist you are sharing your insights and telling them how you went on your journey. If you haven’t taken your journey, your words will be mere knowledge gained from books, it’s not as helpful or useful. Working on yourself helps you to move from preaching to sharing.
2. Ability to be present
As humans it is easy to project our issues, beliefs and perspectives on the world. As a therapeutic coach, it can be counter-productive to do that on the clients because each individual perceives the world differently and unique in that aspect. Your perception is just that, your unique perception.
If you project your views, you become a block in the client’s journey of healing. Your role as a therapeutic coach is to just hold a safe space for the client to explore their inner world and help them work through their issues.
You may have to hand-hold them through some tough spots but mostly its about working like a guardian angel giving a nudge and giving them the non-judgmental space which brings us to the next point.
3. Being non-judgmental
Holding strong ideas of right or wrong not only hampers your growth as a person but also stops you from experiencing your life completely. It creates many boundaries and restrictions for the mind to work. As a therapist and coach, it tends to bring in judgment into the healing work.
The clients are already in a stuck state mostly due to the notions of what’s right or wrong. They often are judging themselves so harshly. Having a non-judgmental outlook helps them look at their life, life choices and situation from a neutral perspective so that it becomes easy to accept, work through the issues and heal them.
4. Acknowledging that it’s not your responsibility to produce change in the client’s life
As a therapist, you are not responsible to create change in the client’s life. It is the client’s responsibility.
You can show them the path, tell them how to walk it, but its upto them whether they take the journey or not and how far they are ready to go on it. Remember you are the space and a lamp showing the way, you are not the traveller. You can assist, but its not your journey. It is their journey to take.
Don’t beat yourself up if the client isn’t working as hard as you expect from them. Because they are doing the best they can in their given situation. That’s the reason they are working with you.
5. Healing is not a time-bound activity
Each individual takes their own time to walk the journey. Healing is not a linear path.
Healing always a “2 step forward 1 step back” kind of journey. Its like riding through the lows of the valleys, climbing the uphill journey of a mountain, treading the status quo of the plateaus, walking through the green fields and clear paths and sometimes wading through the swamp of confusion – but it is not simple and straight.
So don’t expect the client to get healed in a particular amount of time. It is different for different people. An issue that one took 4 years to heal, someone else healed it in 1 year. It doesn’t mean that you are not a good healer or they are not a good client, it just means that everyone will go through their journeys at their own pace and in their own time.
6. Always being clear with what your clients want
Your clients may not always want what you want for them or what is best for them. It’s okay! It’s their journey, you can show them the path but they will take their own path in their own time. Your work is to show them the path and help them walk on the path they choose.
Always respect your client’s free will – it’s their choice and responsibility. Sometimes they will be open to listening to the path you show, sometimes not. It’s okay! Go with the flow, nudge them but don’t dictate their journey. It’s not your story.
7. You cannot help everyone who comes to you
Each person can only be helped as long as they want to be helped and only to the extent that they want. Recognise your boundaries, respect their boundaries.
Healing and coaching is a process of helping the client build healthy boundaries and a good self-concept. You may be the first person to show them what healthy boundaries are and what a good self-concept is about.
8. Be comfortable with conflicts
It sounds strange but it’s true. As a therapist or coach, you may have to trigger your client to go beyond their comfort zones and it’s never an easy process for anyone.
Sometimes you may find your clients resenting you because they will see you as pushing them outside comfort zones, putting them into uncomfortable situations and being a tough nut. Be okay with your clients not liking you always. In fact, if your clients always like you, you are probably not doing a good enough job.
Learn to be okay with such strains and conflicts. It’s what creates breakthroughs in the client’s life. It doesn’t have to happen often or always but once in a while is good.
At times you may even have to confront your clients with their resistance. They may be resisting a change or not ready for change no matter how much both of you have been trying. You may have to call them on and tell them upfront about it and it may not always be pleasant.
9. Don’t provide solutions as a means of help always
Your work is about empowering the client so that they come to a point where they can trust themselves and be able to take their own decisions confidently. If you provide them solutions always,
One – it may not necessarily be the best thing to do according to them in their situation;
Two – you make the client dependent on you for solutions every time a problem comes up.
Your focus should always be to help the client realise that they can solve their own problems and also teach them to take responsibility for their actions. This is a part of growing up and evolving as a being. Don’t take away this opportunity from them.