When I am coaching clients, they often tell me they get more out of their first few sessions with me than out of years of therapy.
Honestly, I love hearing this! Not only does it tell me that I am doing a good job with them, but also that they are feeling the deep commitment I have to them as their coach.
And even though clients tell me that working with me is better than therapy, I am not against therapy. I actually believe in therapy. In addition to being a Singles and Relationship Coach for 20 years, I am nearly done earning my Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
But therapy only works when it is good. It has to help with the issues you bring into the office. It has to work quickly, so that you can get fast relief from the pain you are struggling with. It must be especially good with couples, because a couple might only have one chance when both partners are willing to get help.
Unfortunately therapy is often bad. When therapy is bad, real damage is done to clients’ lives. Marriages and relationships get broken. Singles give up on finding their life partner. Individuals get stuck pining away for past loves, without a way to let go. Men and women get stuck in affairs or relationship behavior patterns that make them miserable.
All this is heartbreaking to me. Love is precious and needs good care and tending. Men and women need the support of caring, knowledgeable helpers who can give them steps and solutions that work. It doesn’t matter to me whether you get therapy or coaching, but I want you get good, quality, knowledgeable help.
To help you get that kind of help, I want you to become a smart therapy or coaching consumer. To because this smart consumer, you need to be educated to know when to seek help, how to find the right person to help you, and how to use that help for the best possible results.
Here are the 5 essential steps to becoming a smart helping services consumer:
1. Know when to get help:
Don’t wait too long. Don’t be like the person who waits so long to go to the doctor he or she is nearly dead before getting help. Get help soon after you notice that your relationship problem or issue is not getting better. For example, if you are single for 6 months or longer, while genuinely trying to meet a partner, it’s probably time to get help. If you are in a relationship where problems keep cropping up for 3 months or more, it’s time to get help. If you ended a relationship and yet don’t feel better at the 3 month mark, it’s time to get help.
2. How to find the right therapist (or coach) to help you:
If you are using insurance, get a list of therapists near where you live or work. Google each one. On their website or profile on websites such as Psychology Today, look at their Masters or PhD graduation date.
Unlike a doctor or a dentist, who should be in practice for a while before they put their hands on you, with therapists you are better off with a recent graduate. New therapists are being trained in techniques that are research-proven to help clients. Seasoned therapists typically do not have this training because they graduated before this was standard.
If you can, be willing to pay out-of-pocket. Many of the best therapists (and coaches) do not take insurance. Even though the out-of-pocket payment may feel expensive, it will often bring a significant return on your investment. Working with someone who is good at addressing relationship issues can significantly improve your quality of life and happiness. When you feel happier, you will likely make more money. This is how good help not covered by insurance will often pay for itself.
3. Select your therapist carefully:
Once you narrow down your list of therapists or coaches, interview each one, if possible. You want to know the following:
- Who does this helper work best with
- What kind of issues do his or her clients bring most often into the office
- What usually happens for the clients as a result of working with him or her
- Does he or she have a favorite way of working with clients, or a theoretical orientation
Don’t assume that just because someone has a professional degree or a license they can help you. Also don’t assume that just because they have a favorite way of working with clients or a favorite flavor of therapy they use, that these will automatically help you.
While you are interviewing the helper, check that the two of you are on the same wave length and that he or she gets you (and your partner). You want someone who will be genuinely interested in helping you, and fully present. You want to ultimately end up with a helper who remembers your story and your issues, and can understand what it feels like to be in your shoes. You want someone who you feel confident will be able to help you.
4. Know the problem you want help with and what you want to get as a result:
Without knowing the issue you want to resolve and the desired result, therapy or coaching is wandering through the forest without a path. For each of us there are a multitude of issues that can be worked on in a therapeutic environment. But working on most issues will not give you big enough results to make a difference in your life.
When I work with clients I typically look for that one key issue or set of issues that will help them turn their entire relationship situation around. I advise you, when you look for a good therapist or coach, to find your own key issue and bring it to the office with you.
Tell the therapist or coach your issue. Find out if he or she has experience working with your kind of issue and getting clients to your desired result. If the answer is no, then keep looking. You want to find someone who actually has worked with your kind of issue and has a proven track record of creating positive results with clients.
5. Get your money and time’s worth:
Think of therapy just like any other service. Don’t just show up at the therapist’s or coach’s office with no agenda and expect him or her to lead you somewhere. Come to each session with a clear goal related to your original reason for seeking help, so that with each session you are moving closer to what you want.
Begin each session by saying “Today what I would like to work on is ….”. At the end of the session make sure you walk away with a plan of action and homework regarding your goal. As the sessions progress, keep track of your results and make sure therapy or coaching is moving you towards your goal.
Good help can really help. If you invest the time in finding good support, it can permanently save your relationship, help you fully recover from a breakup or divorce, attract the right partner for a lifetime of love, or help you resolve or move another relationship-related situation.
While I am not a therapist, I am a relationship coach with 20 years of experience and nearly all the training of a Marriage and Family therapist. My clients often feel that I really “get them”. I make sure that each coaching session moves the client closer to their relationship goal.
To experience working with me as your coach, set up a Get Clarity 30-minute coaching session and find out what it feels like to get good help.