What is the difference between counseling, therapy, and life-coaching?
Counseling tends to refer to a process of working through specific situations in your current life that are presenting emotional difficulty and a sense of unbalanced living. Therapy (psychotherapy) typically refers to a deeper level of emotional work involving more detail of your personal and family history, examining the influences those experiences have on your current life, and specific work to 're-wire' the 'old templates' that continue to pull you into discomfort and imbalance. Life-coaching looks at how to reach specific goals in your life using your strengths to move you towards personal, professional, emotional and spiritual contentment.
Read more about my philosophy of working with you to reach your goals...
Read more about the GATE acronym and how it can help you reach contentment...
How do I know if I need counseling, therapy or life-coaching?
Our initial interview will help you to make this decision. It is important to note that very often, one mode of helping (counseling, therapy, coaching) often blends into the next as you discover more about yourself. This is just fine, and we will discuss your changing needs as we move forward. In any event, if you are feeling any sort of tension in your life that you feel a neutral party could help you with, then certainly look into any of these options. Definitely seek help if you are suicidal, homicidal, or feel that you are having a 'meltdown.' If you can see a meltdown coming up, seek counseling asap--you may be able to head it off before it hits.
A general rule of thumb is that life-coaching is the least emotionally intense, followed by general counseling, and then the most emotionally charged work of full therapy. Life-coaching is not typically covered by insurance (as it is not based in mental health treatment modalities). Counseling tends to be short or moderate term work, and full therapy tends to be moderate to long-term work.
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What can I expect from our sessions?
You will find that I am very casual and laid back; not at all stuffy or overly-clinical. I am grounded in science and practice, so I am able provide clinical rational, particularly as it helps to make metaphors and symbols more meaningful. Many people find it reassuring to hear that something is backed by modern science (i.e. meditation really does help create inner-tranquility; there are chemical and structural changes in the brain that can be measured).
The initial session is generally a time for me to get a basic history from you and identify goals you would like to work on. After the initial session, we will work together to identify your strengths, obstacles to your goals, and action plans to move you towards what you are looking for. During the process, will will explore how your emotions influence your thoughts and actions, and re-wire those influences so that your thoughts and feelings are used as guides for healthy behavior.
You are welcomed to bring in lists, journals, questions, art, music, etc. to work with during our sessions. There is no need to worry about 'where to start' your sessions. Most people find that they reveal exactly what is needed at the time, then fill in any blanks as they need. I will ask questions to fill in gaps that seem relevant to the work at hand.
I see no reason to make therapy a secondary trauma, so our sessions will tend to not be overly dramatic. You may, however, find that our discussions trigger feelings that provide us with the very material necessary to help you heal. This is normal and healthy, and it is important to understand that we can slow down as needed.
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Will I have to re-live painful experiences in order to improve my life?
Not usually, however, some trauma, particularly very recent high-level trauma, may be effectively worked through by talking openly about the experience and dealing with the reality of the tragedy, then the reality of how to move on with life.
What is most important is for us to look at what created the pain, how it influences your thoughts/feelings/behaviors in the here-and-now, and how to change behaviors and thoughts to match a happier lifestyle. Looking at the pain does not necessarily involve getting into vivid detail (i.e. re-living the tragedy itself).
Click to Read more about Traumatic Stress and how to work through it...