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. The therapists joining the Institute bring acute insights and contagious passion to their new profession.
Given that I used to be a therapist, I’m curious why so many skilled practitioners are taking the coaching path. Sure, I’m totally sold on it … but I know too that our own story brings an inherent bias, and I want to better understand their experience. So stepping aside from my case study of one, I set out to discover why are so many therapists are coming to coaching.
Here’s what I’m discovering in my conversations with our students:
1. A Love of Learning
Therapists and counselors 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 at the level of our social institutions. It’s painful to see a lack of social conscience in organisations 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 counselors with a desire to navigate career choices, understand workplace dynamics and manage other dimensions of their lives more effectively. Yet many therapists, who want to do the right thing by their clients, feel they lack specific expertise in these areas.
It’s a real dilemma, all of the groundwork 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 these new and emerging contexts, which often require strong systemic insight.
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 counseling or therapy will fall short. An implicit understanding of this makes many therapists who are interested in organisational work nervous. Either they don’t venture forward, or they have been a little burnt when their early forays into organisations haven’t gone as well as 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, compared with therapists and counselors and is reflected in different professional practices and protocols. It’s not simply that the types of clients coaches work with are different, but it’s also the role and the contract that are different. Take for instance chronic and mental health coaching – the same client can benefit from both therapy and coaching. Yet the approach is inherently different depending upon the role one contracts for. Clients who have often had years of therapy often find a coaching approach liberating.
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 self-regulation. These areas have long been the domain of therapists, but organisations are 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 counselors 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.