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Therapy vs. Life Coach

Updated: May 30, 2020

The beauty of the work that happens in Pacia Life is that each young adult needs are individualized. There is not a one size fits all.

Historically speaking about 1 out of 10 young adults do continue traditional therapy

Pacia Life Coach helping student

modalities to assist them in their foundational work. Young adults who might be challenged with an eating disorder, post-traumatic stress from trauma, or maybe a young adult in the early stages of addiction recovery will strongly benefit from office or group therapy. In cases like these, the therapy model to meet that particular student's needs or challenges is created around the student. For some students, seeing a traditional therapist in an office may have a once a week appointment, while others might have a combination of individual therapy and group therapy work 4 to 7 days a week. Each situation is individualized. Moreover, each situation and “how” the work will be done is “mostly” driven by the young adult, providing they are in a responsible place in their lives to be a part of the decision making process.

Everything changed when my choices and actions began reflecting my dreams and not my fears. - Tatori

Parent driven or student driven? As a side note, often family members will try and ask, “How many therapy sessions will my daughter have?” -- The answer is that those details are worked out with the actual young adult, and many of the final details are finalized AFTER the young adult arrives.

Understandably, parents often want to know these details. However, Pacia Life believes strongly in self-determination, intrinsic motivators for lasting results and that if the young adult is a partner in the process vs. being told what is going to happen, that they have a better chance of experiencing the personal growth that everyone is seeking.

As for Life Coaches.

First of all, many of the Pacia Life coaches are actually trained therapist, counselors or have years of experience working in therapeutic backgrounds that their skills sets to guide a young adult through unique challenges make them more powerful than a traditional therapist.

For starters, in Pacia Life, we are well aware of the power of habit and the power of thoughts that guide both the conscience and sub-conscience mind. Those thoughts create belief systems. Belief systems create our reality. So, when we go to the doctor because we are feeling ill, our mind tells us that something is wrong in our body and we need to "be fixed." A similar thought process happens when a person walks into a therapist office. A similar message goes into both the conscience and sub-conscience mind telling us that we are “broken” and need to "be fixed."

Coaches - Positive to brain: Coaches, on the other hand, are hired by almost everyone at different stages of life. Many of us start off playing youth sports and we have a coach that teaches and guides us. Olympians and professional athletes have a team of coaches. Fortune 500 executives hire business and life coaches. We have academic coaches often called tutors. We hire financial advisors or coaches. We hire fitness coaches.

When we hire a coach, it sends a strong message to the brain that life is going to get better. By nature, coaches for certain address weaknesses or challenges in our performance, but for the most part, they are there to help teach, guide and inspire us to develop our strengths.

A couple of examples: Let's assume that I have a challenge with social anxiety and I also want to get a job. When I go to job interviews, my anxiety is high and I find myself avoiding the experience altogether by “pretending” to go to the job interview or during the interview I present very poorly because my anxiety is too high. In a traditional therapy model, I will talk to my therapist during our weekly scheduled appointment every Monday at 10 a.m. During therapy, we will work on what happened last week during the job interview process.

In a Life Coaching model, my life coach may work with me days or weeks in advance to help increase my self-efficacy in ways that are very specific to my anxiety and job interviews, they will expose me to techniques to have greater awareness around my anxiety, what triggers it and solutions of how to work through the anxiety right in the moment. Through job interviewing role plays and we might include some mindfulness, breathing and meditation exercises, as well as part of the skill, sets that can help me be in control.

The day of my interview, my coach may even pick me up a couple of hours early so we can role play, laugh, rehearse and again use some mindfulness exercises to prepare me for going into the interview. Then, with my coach waiting for me after my interview, we can process what happened right there at the moment while it is still fresh.

Which is better? Waiting until next Monday at 10 a.m. to talk to my therapist about it or processing the good and bad, right there at the moment while it is still real?

Another example -- Often, a parent calls their young adult child and ask, “What did you do today?”. The student may say "we went just worked on applying for jobs" or "we went rock climbing."

Untrained eye: To the untrained eye, it may feel that parents are paying a lot of money for their son or daughter to "just be rock climbing." However, if you asked the Life Coach what they did today with the student, they may share things how they used the rock climbing experience to increase self-efficacy and to examine intrinsic motivations when situations in life feel hard or difficult. Using the rock climbing experience with a trained coach can increase overall grit and have a metaphoric transference between solving problems rock climbing and in real life.

Randy Oakley, Life Coach

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