Psychology & TheoriesSelf-Awareness

Life Coaching – from suspicious to knowledgeable!

Analytical Therapy and Life Coaching – competitive or complementary disciplines?

Life coaching is all about designing a path to a better and happier you. Fantastic, very tempting, but clearly lacking of depth! Well, at least that was exactly my point of view until… a few months ago. How come?

Where I come from?

First, I should mention my training background. I attended a psychodynamic course in London which helped me understand a great deal about my own relationship dynamics, and the psychological patterns I had developed. By getting a deep knowledge of myself, I was then able to offer my support to other people, patients, and clients in the course of my training and afterwards. It is absolutely crucial to know yourself, your own projections and transferences, your patterns, and the impact of your own personal development since childhood to help others thoroughly and carefully.

Life Coaching sounded then to me like an unhelpful bandage promoted by coaches who have most probably experienced tough times in their life but were not in the capacity of protecting themselves from the client’s projections and transferences as well as their owns, from a psychological perspective. Besides, a trainee in psychoanalysis has to go through an exhaustive therapy to understand all the psychological dynamics. It is, in my opinon, very rare to find life coaches who have been properly trained.

My Eye-Opening Day

And one day, I became more open-minded. Life coaching should not be compared to psychoanalysis or analytical therapy. Those are two different disciplines even though they may need each other at times. To me, they are actually complementary. How come?

Analytical therapy is extremely helpful for absolutely everyone and I do recommend it strongly. I will not be who I am today, feeling well-rounded whilst having accepted my flaws, my mistakes, and my own boundaries without my therapist’s help. For deep-rooted mental disorders or malaises, therapists are the ones you should go to.

To cut a long story short, analytical therapy is focused on helping you understand the roots of your symptoms, focusing on the relief of these symptoms and a behaviour change. Life coaching has the same goal but may not use the same models, depending on the training the coach attended, and anyway not to the same extent. Learning about the coach’s background will give you an idea of his style and if the approach suits your needs.

With a therapist, the timed sessions occur on the same day at the same time every week, several times a week if needed. The client feels safe within this framework offering proper boundaries to the therapist and the client. With a life coach, the framework and boundaries are more flexible and the life coach can share his personal experiences to help the client reach his goals. A therapist must not share any of his personal issues or experiences.

Besides, life coaching means that the goals are usually specified by the client and the life coach will do his best to help him achieve them. A plan is made based on the client ’s requirements whilst taking into account his feelings and emotions. Both disciplines aim at making the client feel better about himself, understand his patterns and feelings, but the framework is totally different and life coaching cannot tackle deep-seated issues such as mental disorders, severe depressions, addictions, etc. The role of a therapist is to analyse the unconscious and conscious processes, the life and death drives, the attachment models, whilst the role of a life coach is to get an understanding of your current feelings and emotions, help you accept and own them so that you can move forward with a specific plan discussed together.

Competitive or Complementary?

Depending on your situation, the stage of your life, your goals, your needs, and where you are on your journey, you may need either analytical therapy or life coaching, or both! There are both incredibly helpful. Either way, the best thing to do is to ask for more details about the coach or the therapist’s background and styles. There are many different approaches in psychoanalysis too – Freudian, Jungian, Psychodynamic, Kleinian, etc – and you need to find the one you feel comfortable with. Exactly the same with life coaching, depending on your needs, there are various styles available, and you should also find the style that suits your needs and your personality. Hope this helps!

Therefore, in my opinion, these disciplines should not be considered as competitive but two very helpful approaches offering a different framework, work, models, and flexibility. A client could be in therapy and being helped by a life coach as long as the coach is conscious of his boundaries and not affecting the work of the therapist. The coach should also be careful about his own projections and transferences – to my mind, it would be best to ask for the help of a coach who has undergone therapy or has been trained adequately to offer you an in-depth and breakthrough coaching. Life coaching is also a shorter process – the client could reach his goals within a few sessions -, whilst analytical therapy could take many years, but again the work is different.

N.B. I used ‘his’ and ‘him’ for consistency and readability only.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *