Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More Heat than Light

“Maybe it’s the final “Oprah-fication” of America.  Suddenly it seems ‘life coaches’ are all over the place.  Lost in your career?  Get a life coach.  Lost touch with your mojo?  Life coach.  Want a big turn or tune-up?  Life coach.  You put down the cash and the life coach goes to work.  Teasing out your dreams, your desires.  Getting you on track to get there.  The challenge may be at work, may be at home.  Maybe both.  Some therapists worry life coaches are getting into their terrain.  There used to be a stigma.  Maybe not now.  This hour On Point:  we’re looking at the boom in life coaching.”--Tom Ashbrook

Tom Ashbrook hosted a discussion today on National Public Radio’s  On Point that featured Genevieve Smith, author of a recent article in Harper’s Magazine on life coaching.  Other guests included Allison Rimm,  a management consultant and life coach, and David Ley, a clinical psychologist.

The program produced more heat than light, I am afraid.  Only Rimm seemed to have a clear concept of the difference between counseling and coaching, although several callers reported the positive experiences that they have had with being coached.  Coaches certainly have a long way to go in explaining what they do to the general public.

Valid questions were raised if not completely answered:  What is the boundary between counseling and coaching?  How are issues of confidentiality and liability handled?  Why aren’t coaches regulated in the way that therapists are?  How much training should one expected of a person who is a practicing coach?  When you employ a coach, aren’t you just “hiring a friend”?

I engaged in some of the dialogue through online posts.  Some of the give and take in the thread dealt with the role of coaching for believers.  I did not have the opportunity to respond to the following comment online:

“But how, specifically, do you think that Religious Faith advances work goals in life--which are often the primary services that Life Coaches offer?

If I could have responded to the question, I would have pointed out that Christians are called to embrace a holistic approach to life that encompasses work, family, lifestyle, and spiritual growth.  God has given us the stewardship of our lives, a stewardship that is informed by who we are as children of God.  If coaching can be applied to one’s work life, why should it not be applied to all aspects of our lives?  Coaching encompasses more than just executive development (which seemed to be the primary emphasis of this program).

I don’t advertise myself as a “Christian” coach, but I am a Christian who does coaching,  As such, my beliefs and values inform the coaching that I do without having to impose those commitments on others.

Coaching offers a great deal to those who are willing to engage in the process.  One of the challenges for coaches is how to communicate that most effectively.

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