Accountability, Coaching + Getting Shit Done

June 22, 2012

Recently, a reader asked me if I might write a quick post around how coaching is different from therapy, what coaching self-love is, and how it might help someone move forward in their lives. This is that post.

I am a formally, clinically trained social worker and therapist. I have been seeing clients in weekly individual therapy over the course of the last two years, working with them on a litany of personal issues, secret desires, relationship trouble, and career foibles. I primarily worked with women between the ages of 16 and 40, but I found out how fun it is to work with teenage boys as well, despite my fears about my abilities to reach this population. Over that course of time, I interacted with my clients like human beings. To me this means more than just nodding along with them while they were expounding their inner-most secrets.

I kept my “mmhmm-ing” to a dull roar.

I talked to them. Like I would talk to you if I met you in the grocery store. Like I would talk to my sisters or my friends.

I would reframe their discomfort for them, presenting an alternate (and occasionally wrong) point of view. I would ask them the questions that lay quietly beneath their questions, and wonder aloud how it might be possible to eradicate feelings of low self-worth in favor ofaccepting what is.

I would ask them what they needed, what they were looking for out of their life, and together we would build a foundation beneath it.

I would hold them accountable to this vision.

The quick answer is, sometimes there is no difference between coaching and therapy.

Sometimes the difference is monumental.

The problem in determining such a thing is that there is a wide difference between both therapy and coaching styles, and at times they all blur together and start looking the same.

It all boils down to this: getting the help that you need to get you where you want to be going.

I will be the first to admit, my approach between the two mediums isn’t enormously different, but that is because I was and always have been a very interactive therapist.

I have always found that people like it best when you talk to them like they know a thing or two about their own existence.

Many before me have made this distinction: therapy focuses on the past, coaching focuses on the future.

I have heard many claims around this point, people stating that they got more out of coaching than they got out of therapy, but (for the most part) these are people who are not mentally ill.  Many coaches are not adequately equipped to work with clients that require treatment in that way.

For myself, I will say this: I had to work out the hurt and pain in my past before I was even able to imagine a future.  This type of trauma work required a hand-holding, safe space with no agenda, plan, or formalized accountability. I needed that work, to get to the point where I could hire someone to dive into my current goals and dreams. I needed my therapist, who I very much adored.

It’s truly a matter of preference. It’s about finding someone who is a good fit for you. Meet with them. Interview them. Google them. Check in after three sessions. Remember that in order for therapy or coaching to work for you, you are going to have to do the work.

Doing the work is easier, more fruitful, and richer when you are working with someone who is a good match for you.

Self-love coaching is about recognizing the fact that you are an individual and, thus, have individual dreams and needs. This is not one-size-fits-all. This is about digging into YOUR stuff, to figure out what is standing in YOUR way – so that together we can work to clear away the cobwebs in your body and your brain and start conjuring up some magic in your life.

It is about working with someone who believes in you, even when you aren’t able to believe in yourself.

It’s about brainstorming, accountability, and forward motion.

It is about YOU getting to where you want to go.

It’s work with a dash of unconditional love and support.

It’s about you investing in yourself, because you believe that you are worth it and you know that there is more to life than what you are permitting in your current daily existence.

It’s about you becoming an active participant in your own life.


If this sounds like something that you’re looking for – I would be honored if you checked out my offerings here. Not sure if this is a good fit for you?  Email me with questions or to request a complimentary half hour session at