The hardest part of coaching for me has always been this: “believe in your clients’ success”.
Success in this mantra would usually take the form of wealth, popularity, impressive career, luxury lifestyle… The type of superficial, egocentric, consumeristic “successful success”.
I always struggled with the idea of “empowering clients” for something like this, and not because I don’t believe in my clients. I just don’t believe that it is necessarily a healthy focus for everyone.
Here are some reasons for this deviation from the industry standard:
- The superficial “successful success” makes it easier to take advantage of a person. Somebody who lives a happy and content life with healthy values is not a good source of revenue for so many industries, while somebody who is always in the race for another expensive signalling trinket, status upgrade and success trophy is a hot client for all sorts of vanity vendors. Good for the economy, not so good for an individual, especially when bills are piling up, and the ambitions go out of control.
- What we can see as a “successful person” on the outside can sometimes (not always!) be a symptom of a psychological disorder. It may bring actual desirable results, but thus only fortifying the suffering. Examples include: narcissistic disorder, which urges a person to prove their value at any cost; bipolar depression, with manic phase where a person becomes unbelievably active; neurosis with demonstrative accentuation, when a person goes a long way to attract attention; psychopathic disorder, when a person deficient in social function wouldn’t have any moral restrictions to pursuing goals such as wealth and power. In cases like this markers of “success” only extend and expand the suffering caused by the disorders.
- There are so many psychological ailments that are affecting people and that are left unattended, that becoming another coach who can’t see them behind the cheerleading noise and the shining of glitter, is just not what I choose. Psychotherapy does its part for clinical cases, of course. But living a content, fulfilled, happy life and claiming back control and joy is not what people can receive from psychotherapy in most cases. If we take depression as an example: psychotherapy can help clear or control the symptoms. But often times it won’t mend the lost friendships and family connections, failed career, absence of hobbies, etc.
The empowerment, the faith, and the space that I as a coach can truly offer to my clients is this: no matter how hard life has hit you and what imprint it left on your soul, you can always reclaim the quality of healthy, content everyday life, that doesn’t have to stand out and impress anyone.
What I believe about my clients, is that being fully alive in your own unique way, and enjoying it, is achievable. I call it “Quality of Life Coaching”.
Let me get into more details about it.
Imagine a broken leg. A surgeon would take care of the bones, put on a cast, and follow through with the patient until the bones grow back together.
But after the bones have healed, the patient finds out that muscles became weaker, body symmetry has changed, movement has changed, pain in the back appeared because the body has been compensating for the broken leg.
Social aspects of life changed too: if the patient is an athlete, he missed a few games and hasn’t practiced; if the patient is a plumber, a few of his clients found other service providers while he was recovering.
You see what I mean: bones growing back together, although an absolutely critical measure, isn’t enough to recover the quality of life after a trauma. That’s why physical therapy exists.
Psychological traumas and ailments penetrate way deeper into various aspects of life, affecting careers, relationships, self-image, life-style, finances, hobbies, etc. Psychological conditions tend to be longer lasting, the majority of them starting in childhood years, and escaping diagnosis and treatment until much later in life, when a lot of damage to the quality of life has already been done.
Just like with the leg, it is critical to undergo a proper therapy and clear the symptoms, or take them under control. But treatment alone doesn’t guarantee the quality of life and personal dignity one is aspiring for.
We need to develop new behaviors, new communication strategies, new modes of work and leisure. Sometimes we have to rebuild a whole household, career and social surrounding to fit the newly achieved healthier state of mind.
We need to undo the harm that the unchecked clinical condition has caused: the lost career opportunities, the destroyed relationships, the rejected passions, the diminished physical health, etc.
And most importantly we need to establish ourselves as this new personality, now free from the effects of the mental malady, and grow into this new personality, make it our nature, find our true self, and create conditions for this true self to be realized through socially meaningful activities.
It is not a simple task, it takes time, and these things don’t happen spontaneously and without qualified help. Unfortunately they are not often covered by psychotherapy without becoming too expensive. Even more unfortunately, life coaching usually doesn’t count for such conditions, and either pushes the covering people too hard (sometimes, causing relapse or worsening of condition), or renders clients with clinical history as “losers”.
I truly believe that life coaching shouldn’t be all about vanity and ambitions: a more grounded quality of life is a worhty goal for life coaching as well.
As a professional coach with a Master’s degree in psychology, training and experience in clinical psychology, I provide this kind of Quality of Life coaching for people, who want to recover and upgrade their quality of life on top of clearing clinical symptoms with a therapist.
If you want to discuss with me how I can help you in your unique situation, drop me a line through this contact form, and I will be happy to help.