The modern practitioner: therapist and coach

At Conversations With Impact we offer both therapy and coaching, In this blog we consider the interest in combining both approaches.

“My difficulties didn’t fall neatly into any category. I was anxious and depressed. I was also setting up my new business. Therapy helped me come to terms with the loss of my father, but I needed a different type of support. I was aware of coaching from my corporate career, so on a whim I Googled therapy and coaching and saw that people did both.” Stephen

Presenting issues

Our issues rarely fall into neat categories, with many of us navigating on a daily basis the challenging waters of:

  • Professional Development – career aspirations, professional skills, employability
  • Personal Development – confidence building, self-esteem, relationships, social connectedness
  • Lifestyle Development – diet and exercise, mental health and wellbeing, work/life balance

The therapist-coaching practitioner, because of their training, knowledge and experience is ideally placed to meet the variety and sometimes competing demands of our complex personal and professional lives.

“I was going through a nasty divorce. I lost my home and had to move back in with parents, which meant I had to leave my job. I was effectively starting again. I called this lovely, lovely counsellor and told them I needed support on many levels. She was lovely because she said she couldn’t help me. Instead she gave me Mark’s details. He was exactly the person I was looking for. He was just as comfortable rebuilding my professional confidence as he was dealing with the pain of my divorce.” Gail

The challange paradox

One definition of coaching we work with is ‘to challenge’. In other words, a coaching conversation that isn’t a challenging conversation isn’t coaching. Coaching is a commitment to being more and doing more in life – and that is a challenge.

But what if someone seeking coaching is depressed or anxious? There can be a paradox here. Depression and anxiety can reflect a life that is – too challenging. They can place someone in a double-bind: unable to progress while recognising that progress is necessary. The therapist/coach practitioner is well-placed to resolve the challenge paradox. They have the qualifications and training, knowledge and skills, to work with difficult emotions and the need for challenge and progress.

Emotional self-regulation

If someone is experiencing significant emotional distress this doesn’t mean that only therapy is appropriate. What makes someone suitable for a combined therapy and coaching approach is that despite their emotional distress, they can learn to contain it i.e. to emotionally self-regulate. This ability means that despite periods of distress, someone will be able to challenge themselves to overcome their difficulties and set life-affirming goals.

In our experience, clients quickly grow in confidence when they are able to make progress despite their distress. They therapist/coach practitioner is ideally qualified to support people in this way.

The therapy/coaching transition

“I was having coaching at work as my organisation was going through structural change. On one occasion I called my executive coach and said I was feeling too low to attend a session. She said she had noticed my engagement in the coaching had dropped away. I had what I suppose was a breakdown. My coach felt that I would benefit from some executive therapy, and that led me to Mark at Conversations With Impact. I had no idea you could combine therapy and coaching. For a while I wasn’t strong enough for coaching. Executive therapy saved my career.” Harry

If someone is initially unable to emotionally self-regulate and benefit from a joint approach, a therapist/coach practitioner can work therapeutically with them until it is. In our experience of offering a combined approach, the ratio of therapy and coaching changes and fluctuate over time as people’s needs and circumstances change. For example, therapy can be the main approach at the start if someone is highly distressed, but as the work progresses so it can shift more in favour of coaching. Another example, is where someone chooses to address different personal and professional issues. In this case, periods of therapy and coaching can be carried out separately.

Further support and information

At Conversations With Impact we have been offering therapy and coaching since 2005. For more information about how a combined approach can support your professional, personal and lifestyle development, please get in touch.