Lately we’ve had many therapists join our programs. They already have a well developed skill set, which they want to transition into the world of coaching.
As I used to be a therapist, I’m curious why so many skilled professionals are taking the coaching path. Sure, I’m totally sold on it. But why are so many other therapists coming to it, and with such passion? In many ways my own story obscures my understanding of others. I don’t want to project my own experience onto others, or to assume my career trajectory is right for anyone else. It’s important for me to step aside from my case study of one, and discover what draws our students to our programs, as well as what they are gaining from the experience.
I must say I’m learning heaps – as usual – from our students. Here’s what I’m discovering:
1. A Love of Learning
Therapists and counsellors tend to be passionate about growing and ongoing learning. So there is an intrinsic pull to explore new frontiers.
2. An Intrinsic Drive To Share Their Skills
Many practitioners know that much of the work they do with individuals is also needed in our social institutions. It’s painful to see a lack of social conscience in organizations and to know that individuals are suffering from that. For this to change, practitioners need a way to engage organizational leaders and their workforces.
3. Clients Recognise Their Potential
For a significant number of therapists the move is client driven. Clients are presenting to trusted counsellors with a desire to navigate career choices, understand workplace dynamics and manage other dimensions of their lives more effectively. Yet many practitioners feel they lack specific content expertise in these domains. It’s a real dilemma, all of the ground work has been done … The deep rapport has been established. There is permission to explore most or all facets of the individual’s life. Yet the therapist feels at a loss to serve their client in ways more suited to context.
4. Recognising Situational Differences
What works in an organisational setting is not necessarily the same as what works in a family – though there is undeniably loads of overlap. Approaching organisational leaders or even teams with the same methods one uses in counselling or therapy will fall short. An implicit understanding of this makes many therapists interested in organisational work nervous. Either they don’t venture forward, or they have been a little burnt when their early forays into organizations haven’t gone as they expected.
5. The Burden of Care
Coaching is strongly predicated on the assumption that the client is whole, capable and resourceful. This places a different burden of responsibility upon the coach than therapists and counsellors. It might be that the types of clients coaches work with are different, but it’s also the role and the contract that are different. Considering domains such as chronic and mental health coaching, we understand that the same client can benefit from both therapy and coaching.
6. Strong Market Demand
The market for coaching services is growing. Many organizations now engage coaches to work on skillsets such as interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence and regulation. These areas have long been the domain of therapists, but management in organizations is increasingly seeing the advantages of addressing them in the workplace.
7. Earning Capacity
And then of course there’s the fact that coaching fees are usually higher; at least double and up to four or five times higher than the fees charged by most counsellors and therapists. While our graduates may be a little shy to speak about this advantage – it offers significant lifestyle choices, meaning they can have more time for themselves.