Psychotherapy is different from life and wellness coaching in three main ways. First, psychotherapy is aimed at helping people overcome mental illness and emotional problems, while coaching is aimed at mentally healthy people who already function adequately become even more successful, happy and healthy. Second, psychotherapy is mostly concerned with resolving problematic things that happened to a person in the past. Coaching doesn’t delve into the person’s past; it aims at helping to build a better future. Thirdly, a psychotherapist is in a position of relative authority over the client, who is not well and hoping to become functional again. A coach is much more egalitarian and works alongside the client. The coaching client should be relatively free of mental health problems at the point he or she seeks coaching, and coaches tend to be more direct and challenging to coaching clients than to mental health clients.
How does this happen? How do talented and fabulous professionals fail to take their own advice and lose sight of their own wellness? This is a question that intrigues me and my passion is to help people in this place find the love and compassion they show other people, and apply it to themselves. I believe love for self is foundational for all positive change and all love for others. When we activate self-love and help people realize what is important to them (like the same self-care they recommend to their patients/clients), they can become more effective, happier people not only for others but also for themselves and their loved ones.
So, I decided to become a resource for others in the helping professions (psychologists, social workers, MFTs, psychiatrists, and allied health professionals) who have lost touch with their own self-care. I studied coaching at Institute for Life Coaching and recently passed my Board Certified Coaching examination. I am an avid reader and am fascinated by health and wellness. I am also a Certified Biofeedback Technician and well-versed in alternative healing, including aromatherapy and energy medicine techniques. For more information about my business with Larsen Wellness, please visit http://www.larsen-wellness.com.
Now, getting back to the question I posed: What is Wellness Coaching? Let’s start with wellness. It’s a somewhat vague word that refers to a state of positive health, well-being, and pleasure in one’s being. A wellness coach can help you define what wellness means to you. It may mean being more physically fit, feeling comfortable in one’s own body, a sense of emotional, physical and spiritual peace, or just being “comfortable in my own skin” as one client described it.
Life coaching in general is a partnership between the coach and client that helps support the client in identifying and realizing their goals, what they truly want in life, and providing accountability and support in maintaining those changes for long-term success. Wellness coaching is similar; I coach the whole person, including their emotional, relationship, spiritual, financial and physical aspects. The emphasis in wellness coaching is on helping people meet their wellness goals. We are not substitutes for mental health counselors, doctors, or physicians. Our roles are strictly in the service of supporting the client in achieving wellness the way they choose. We don’t prescribe, diagnose or treat medical conditions. We can make suggestions for what other people have tried and found helpful, but mostly the answers come from you, the client. Let’s face it, you probably already know how to lose weight or feel better in strictly factual terms, but you feel stuck in implementing the changes that will get you on the right path. That’s where I come in!
You may have noticed a groundswell of people entering the coaching profession, including myself, and it may be hard to distinguish one coach from another. A lot of people can call themselves coaches because it’s not a regulated field. There are some certifying bodies, like the International Coaching Federation or the Center for Education and Credentialing (which issued my certificate). These make us certified but not licensed, and this is only important in terms of understanding that we are (again) not health care practitioners, as coaches. We are allies, supporters — we have training in helping people achieve goals, but not in determining the path you should take. The path and the journey are yours — we are merely guides along the way.
So, are you ready to start your journey to greater wellness? Can I come along?