As a parent to a teenager, you know how very unqualified you can feel when your child faces challenges and obstacles you aren’t familiar with. The challenges of the teenage years can be taxing for the teen and the parents in question, and you may find yourself seeking outside support. But the options can feel overwhelming, and you may not know where to begin. Therapy is a popular option but can be prohibitively expensive and difficult to find. Classes and support groups may mean sitting through hours of discussing problems that aren’t relevant to your family. And pursuing reading material and resources on your own is daunting. Thankfully, there is another option that millions of families are using to ease the teenage years: Life Coaches.
What exactly is a life coach?
A life coach is a professional wellness coach who helps people make progress in their lives in order to obtain greater happiness and fulfillment. Life coaches are as diverse as the clients they serve! Life coaches can assist with setting goals, improving relationships, identifying obstacles, creating strategies to overcome challenges, and more. Life coaches are adept at recognizing and targeting each client’s unique skills and gifts and can support them in achieving long-lasting change. Like other wellness professionals, life coaches can practice “general” coaching or may specialize in helping people with specific problems like addiction, leadership, divorce, and life skills.
Who can benefit from a life coach?
In short, anyone and everyone! Because of their diverse skills and abilities, life coaches can help anyone who is looking to improve their life in some aspect. But for families, especially, life coaches can make an excellent pillar of support. Teenagers can significantly benefit from having a trusted adult outside of the immediate family dynamic to talk to. And with people living farther from their extended families, learning remotely, and doing most socializing over social media, those connections are increasingly harder to find on your own. Life coaches provide an unbiased perspective on issues that parents and their teenage children are just too close to for objectivity. And parents can benefit from a life coach’s guidance on connecting with their teens, finding fulfillment outside of parenthood, and transitioning into new life phases.
Why a life coach and not a therapist?
Therapy is an excellent and highly beneficial service. Mental health professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers can provide care and support that millions of people benefit from each year. But there are some reasons you may want to consider a life coach over these mental health professionals.
1. Life coaching is focused on helping you take on external challenges that have immediate impacts.
Therapy is a process of intense self-introspection and healing. And while that can be incredibly beneficial and important, it’s also a much slower process. Therapy often takes years to yield results. On the other hand, life coaches are focused on helping you make tangible progress and holding you accountable for your goals. We don’t have our teens in our homes for very long and often can’t afford the luxury of time unpacking our psyches’ deepest pockets to solve pressing problems. Life coaches can provide you and your teen with solutions quickly.
2. Life coaches are more easily accessible.
Unlike many mental health professionals, you won’t need a referral from a primary care physician to see a life coach. This means you don’t have to track down someone in-network or wait on approval from your insurance company, either. You can begin working with your life coach right away! Many life coaches also offer programs to assist with making access to help more affordable. Group coaching sessions are readily available, as are membership options that range in length from weeks from months to allow for more affordable access to care. Plus, because life coaches have more flexibility in how they can offer support, many (myself included!) have created tools like Facebook groups where parents can access a community of like minded peers and benefits like a weekly Q&A with a life coach for a low monthly fee.
3. Coaching sessions are focused and measurable.
There is a stereotype of a patient lying on a couch, unsure of what to say in a therapy session for a reason: therapy is often open-ended. There is not usually a clarified goal for the session, and it can be difficult to tell when progress has been made. Coaching sessions occasionally begin open-ended but are generally tailored to addressing a very specific problem, goal, or process. This narrower approach allows the client to measure their success in a tangible way. Seeing real progress unfold means teens and parents alike are more likely to stick with coaching long-term.
When should my teen or myself see a therapist instead of a life coach?
One of the very best things about life coaching is that you can easily add any other support service to it. Because life coaches are not bound by the same strict privacy guidelines as therapists, they can freely incorporate the work you are doing with a therapist into your sessions. While life coaches are skilled at helping their clients address a wide variety of challenges, there are times when it is recommended that parents and/or their children pursue care from mental health professionals like therapists. Here are a few:
- A mental health concern is causing distress in you or your teen’s life: Feeling a lack of motivation around applying to college can be handled by a life coach. Feeling extreme anxiety when even thinking about applying to college is better suited for a therapist.
- You need help navigating difficult emotions: If you or your teen are working through emotional distress, it is beneficial to seek mental health services prior to, or in conjunction with, life coaching.
- There is past trauma or abuse: Life coaches primarily excel in helping clients with their present and future. Addressing past trauma or hurt should be done with the help of a therapist.
- You believe you or your child has a mental health disorder: While many life coaches have a background in psychology, only licensed mental health professionals can provide a diagnosis and determine a course of treatment. Life coaches are instrumental to the success of many people with mental health disorders, but they act as a supplement in these cases. Proper diagnosis, medication, and treatment are the vital first step.
- You or your child is experiencing passive or active suicidal ideation: Seek treatment from a licensed mental health professional immediately.
If you are interested in learning more about life coaching services, schedule a complimentary discovery session through the link below.