As a trained therapist I've always been curious about life coaching. My curiosity began to peak after having several clients seek therapeutic services while also undergoing life coaching. So, I decided to investigate further. Most of the articles I found focused on how therapist training and licensure requirements are more extensive and rigorous than those of Life Coaches. For example, therapist have to obtain a graduate degree, complete internships during graduate training, in addition too, completing two years of post graduate training and supervision before they can become fully licensed. College is not a requirement for a life coach, but many seek training courses on various topics from various coaching programs where certification is also available, although not a requirement. After reading several articles and finding no empirically supported research sources I became more perplexed. What is the actual process like? What is the focus of the work? So, like any good therapist I decided to undergo life coaching myself. After all, life coaching was growing in popularity for some reason right?
What I Learned
Life Coaching was helpful with prioritizing and setting goals. It also helped me think about my future by assisting me with envisioning the life I want to have and the steps I needed to take to get there. It also kept me highly accountable, driven, motivated and excited about my progress. We focused on self-limiting beliefs and I practiced between sessions on challenging them. I really did feel more inspired and energetic. Overall, it was helpful while I was doing it.
What was Missing
As I therapist and a trauma survivor, for me it lacked integration and a holistic perspective of who I was as a human being and why these patterns existed in me. Don't get me wrong, it was helpful and can be helpful for individuals that want to work on a few very clear set goals and their mindset. Results, for me personally seemed short lived, I just needed something more. I want to be clear, I loved my coaching experiences so much that I have added empowerment coaching to my practice, which is my own brand of coaching that focused on decreasing people pleasing and behaviorally facing fears. I feel that coaching has it's strengths and could be good for a subset of individuals that are overall mentally healthy but struggle in a few areas of their life where goal setting and shifting mental focus is all that is necessary to help them change patterns. But, if you've tried that, read all the books and still struggle internally and externally to make change then therapy is your best bet. Therapy seeks to permanently change how your brain is wired so you don't have to work so hard just to get through life. Therapy restores harmony to the body and soul and because of this changes the way your brain fires, thinks and responds, is trauma informed and empirically supported. In short, therapy seeks to restore and heal you. Coaching seeks to motivate and energize you while helping you stay mentally strong.
Fuel The Soul and Restore The Body
Somatic experiencing seeks to assist the body in discharging the physiological consequences of trauma. By tracking sensation and utilizing movement somatic experiencing can restore the natural rhythms of the body while resolving traumatic memories stored in the body and the brain. This therapeutic approach explores how the body responded at the time of the trauma and how the instinctual, biological responses of fight, flight or freeze along with the associated energy, emotions and cognitions remained trapped in trauma time. For example, if someone tried to assault you, you may get angry those producing the energy and the physiology associated with rage (flight response), or if we identify the source of attack as to powerful to overrun we kick into flight response and to try flee or being in a state of complete shock and overwhelm due to being flooded with fear our bodies may cause us to be rendered paralyzed such as the freeze response. It is important to understand that all of these responses are instinctual or automatic and thus not chosen consciously by the individual and occur in milliseconds when we are under threat. If we cannot release this energy after an attack it gets trapped in our nervous system and our bodies will continue to relive the physiology of the trauma even when we are not in danger which can result in traumatic stress symptoms and PTSD reactions for a lifetime until the body is assisted in releasing this energy inside.
Somatic Experiencing helps us slow down and tune in so we can move through trauma that is unconsciously stored in the body. The goal is to free up our physiology so that we may function in the world the same way we would if we never experienced the trauma. Restoring the body allows us to stop working so hard to cope and survive and gives us an opportunity to thrive in the world naturally. If you have experienced trauma that no matter what you try to cope it never really feels resolved inside I highly recommend giving somatic experiencing a try. Your body will thank you for it!