Insights and Healing with Patrick Moore


What is Life-Coaching and How is it Not Therapy?
January 20, 2019, 11:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

When a friend or family member is struggling with a challenge or concern, there is often the temptation to give advice, and “psychoanalyze” them. I have also been tempted to give therapy when I don’t have the credentials or education to provide therapy. I thought I understood their problems well enough to solve their problem for them, and then later realized I didn’t know enough, and solving their problem is not always even helpful.

What is it psychotherapists do, that is really beyond what a friend or loved one can offer, and more that what a lifecoach should offer?  This question has been discussed for at least seventeen years as this page from Coachville from 2002 shows. One reason I read so many textbooks for psychotherapists is, I need to know what it is they do, so I can be clear what it is I am not supposed to do as a lifecoach and mentor for other lifecoaches. I believe in the last year I have gained a much clearer understanding of at least one boundary. And I was surprised to find this well-articulated boundary described more than one hundred years ago!

Pierre Janet (1859 – 1947) is considered one of the founders of modern psychology, especially in treating people with trauma. Janet outlined three phases in treatment for people with traumas. One of these phases, is really far beyond the scope of friends or family to solve, and beyond the scope of lifecoaches.

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Janet’s Phase One would include:

• Help the person get into a life situation safe enough to proceed with therapy. An example of this would be getting out of an abusive or addictive situation, into a situation that is safer.
• Skills: help the person learn how to manage life’s stressors, or to cope, so that life feels stable enough to proceed with therapy. An example of this would be practice responding rather than reacting.
• Education: help the person understand a few things including — the big picture of how people could be natural and fulfilled — some of the ways people get diverted off this course — what is the difference between responding and reacting and — why is interpretation so important.
• Self-soothing. Natural-enough things that help the person calm down from anxieties and worries.
• Self-energizing. Natural-enough things that help the person pep up from depression and giving up.

Phase Two for people with trauma, Janet believed, should only begin once Phase One has succeeded in helping the person feel safe enough, stable enough, educated enough and self-regulating enough to begin the more challenging Phase Two. Phase One may require months or years, before the person is ready for Phase Two. Phase two is what family, friends and lifecoaches should refrain from attempting!

Phase Two of therapy for trauma would include:

• Talking about the incidents from the past that are associated with the trauma.
• There is the possibility intense emotions would be expressed, once the person is describing traumatic events.
• Putting the events into one’s past history, or retelling one’s story, with those events understood and felt to be in the past, so they no longer feel like they are happening now.
• There is the possibility of feeling the emotions of mourning losses, lost time, lost opportunities, lost childhood, lost innocence and so forth.

Since Phase Two can be very intense, shocking or surprising, it is utmost important, according to Janet, that people have skills and understanding that allow them to be resilient during the Phase Two therapy process. Do they have enough of these skills and understanding? Even assessing whether they have enough, requires an experienced, well-educated therapist. Without Phase One, the person now exposed to their traumas, is sometimes made to feel worse rather than better. If the emotions are too intense and there is no context for understanding, they can end up more confused rather than more resolved. This is why Phase One is extremely important and a necessary condition to complete prior to beginning Phase Two. This is also why talking about the experiences from the past, is off-limits for all but trained professionals. Don’t try this at home. This is not a D.I.Y. project to try out.

When I was in massage school in the 90’s many therapists and teachers were experimenting with what they called “Emotional Release” methods, that would supposedly relieve people of the emotions they had kept contained for so long. Nobody told us that getting people to re-experience old compartmentalized emotions could make the people more confused and feel worse. Looking back, this was not a very smart thing for massage therapists to be tinkering with.

Phase Three is the support the person needs to recreate herself, or to find her original self that was never developed because of her trauma. Even though this is her real self, it will feel unfamiliar and she will need support. To a person having moved past some or most of her trauma, she may feel as if she is a new person, or as if she is being introduced to a new person,  herself. She may feel silly, tender, vulnerable and sensitive in situations that she used to do habitually. She may make mistakes. Ordinary life experiences may feel intense. Intense life experiences may feel extreme. At first. She will also have new opportunities for fulfillment, relationships, excitement, joy, invention, career and love that will seem completely new to her and she may feel tentative to embrace these at first. In Stage Three the helper supports her to understand this is normal in her situation. Initially the helper offers mentoring and guidance and soon gradually tapers off helping, as the person steps into greater and greater self-sufficiency, independence and responsibility for her own life. A person finishing Stage Three begins to step boldly along her natural path and soon requires no assistance.

Where Does Lifecoaching Fit in Trauma Treatment?

This discussion has been about someone who has been traumatized by an event in their past, This person may require the help of a psychotherapist who will manage the three phases. The lifecoach may assist and complement what the therapist would like for the person to gain in Stage one. This assistance from the lifecoach may accelerate the time or better prepare the person to be resilient for the stage two work they will do with the therapist.   it is phase two that is clearly what life-coaches would refrain from doing. When the therapist feels it is time to begin stage three, again the lifecoach may be helpful and may accelerate the person’s time to completion of all three stages.

Stage One and Stage Three Would Help Everyone!

The interesting thing about Phase One and Phase Three goals, is that all people would benefit from them:

• With the lifecoach’s partnership, the person adjusting their own life to make it safe enough
• Assistance to adjust one’s own life so there are fewer anxiety-producing stresses and more excitement-producing incentives.
• Someone helping you understand how life works, and where one is in the spectrum. If fulfillment is natural and I don’t feel fulfilled, how does that generally occur?
• Learning how, and practicing, responding rather than reacting. We may have arranged life to eliminate as many anxiety-producing stimuli as possible, and yet life still emerges with new things, unexpected and unforeseen! For these, we need skills for responding to things rather than reacting to them. And such skills require a lot of practice–enough practice so they will actually activate in the unexpected and unforeseen times of need.

Phase One and Phase Three things are in self help books, or they could be. Some people may actually learn them fine by reading, and may actually implement them without help. For those who have read them but haven’t been able to implemented them alone, a life coach can make all the difference.

Who Else Benefits from Coaching?

Many people have had no trauma, yet they feel their life is inhibited. They are not getting all from life that they could get, and they are not giving as much to others as they could give. It’s not that these people have any diagnosable mental condition, in many cases, but the culture we live in sways us off our natural course.

Enculturation Requires Assistance to Get Free Of

Our culture emphasizes competition when we could be cooperating, control when we could be influencing, reaction when we could be responding, judgment when we could be discerning, conditional love when we could be unconditionally compassionate, rigidity when we could be curious, distraction when we could be present and patient. Growing up in, and being conditioned to our culture is not a diagnosable mental illness, but it does inhibit the natural fulfillment we could get and the natural compassion we could be giving others.

Since our culture does not prepare or educate us how to be natural in various situations or relationships, it is almost as if we need a whole new school to learn to be natural, even though it is the way we were designed!

Yes, you can figure these things out by yourself. The main problem is, when we look at ourselves, we do not see our own issues. Our perspective tends to cancel out our own behaviors so we do not see them. It can be very supportive to have a helper who can see one with neutral eyes, someone who is supportive, who cares, who has a sense of what natural would be for you. If not a lifecoach then a group of people all trying to be more natural together would also be very helpful, as long as the group are not all people who happen to have the same perspective, in which case they will all be blind to the thing they all are doing.

With the help of an equal partner, you may quickly grasp, ah, that’s what natural would be for me.

The Future of Life Coaching?

I wonder if, in the future, therapists would refer people out to life coaches for Phase One assistance prior to, or co-concurrent with therapy, and again for Phase Three assistance later, so that people could more quickly or thoroughly complete the three phases?

In the future I imagine there may be life coaches who specialize in either Phase One or Phase Three assistance, or who specialize in either skill building or education.

Wouldn’t it be nice if schools one day offered skills like responding not reacting, and education about how life could naturally be fulfilling? Or courses for parents so they could offer these skills and education to their children? Of course, if parents and schools were giving all this to young people, life coaches would be out of a job. But I would be happy to be out of a job for that reason 🙂

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Patrick is currently preparing a Sociodrama group for people to learn-by-doing, how to be natural, responding not reacting, in a scene-playing format. This will be held weekly in Tucson. 

Patrick also provides face-to-face life-coaching in Tucson, while going for walks in quiet neighborhoods and local trails, while sitting at Tucson coffee shops or by phone, for people located anywhere. Your phone session includes intuitive and energetic connecting so it is very much like an in-person session. Coaching can be added to clothed-bodywork sessions at Patrick’s NW Tucson home-office. If you have questions or would like to schedule sessions please use the Sessions link above left and use the contact form to contact me initially. After initial contact I will give you my email address and if we make an appointment I will share my mobile number. 

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