FAQs about Coaching and Psychotherapy

What is the basic philosophy of coaching?

Simply put, that we humans are great, that we're all discovering what we really want and that we can get what we want--faster and easier--by having a coach who's been trained to help us. 
Coaching involves helping another person identify and take action toward centrally important professional and/or personal goals. Coaching presumes one is doing many things well and now wants to do even better.

Who hires a coach and why?  

Have you ever wished for someone who would unconditionally support you and encourage you to celebrate each success - no matter how seemingly small? Would you like to have someone hold you accountable so you move forward on your dreams? Could you benefit from speaking regularly with someone who will give you an honest, objective opinion and will help you look at life in a new way? Then you've been wanting a coach!

Coaching can help you take strategic steps from where you are now to where you want to be.

People hire a coach because

  • They want simplicity.

  • They want to grow.

  • They want a richer, more satisfying life.

  • They need help actually reaching these goals--at home, at work, in relationships, with family.

It's as simple as that. Coaches help a client get all three. Quickly.

What happens when you hire a coach?

Many things, but the most important are:

  • You take yourself more seriously.

  • You take more effective and focused actions immediately.

  • You stop putting up with what is dragging you down.

  • You create momentum so it's easier to get results.

  • You set better goals that you might not have without the coach.

Does the coach work on personal goals or business/professional goals?

Both, actually. And, with the line between personal and business life blurring in the New Millenium, the coach is the only professional trained to coach all aspects of you.  

Where does the coach focus with an average client?

We focus where the client needs us most. And, we tend to weave in the following discussions:

  • Getting the client's Personal Foundation strengthened.

  • Helping the client beef up their personal Reserve.

  • Helping the client set goals based on their Personal Values.

By including these with what the client wants from us, we help the client have fewer problems and focus on what's going to make them the most successful. We've found that clients really enjoy the approach.  

Why does coaching work?

Coaching works for several reasons:

  • Synergy between the coach and client creates momentum.

  • Better goals are set -- those that naturally pull the client toward the goal rather than goals that require the client to push themselves to the goal.

  • The client develops new skills, and these skills translate into more success.

Why is coaching becoming so popular?

Coaching is becoming popular for several reasons:

  1. Many people are tired of doing what they "should" do and are ready to do something special and meaningful for the rest of their lives. Problem is, many can't see it, or if they can, they can't see a way to reorient their life around it. A coach can help them do both.

  2. People are realizing how simple it can be to accomplish something that several years ago might have felt out of reach or like a pipedream. A coach is not a miracle worker (well, they are, sometimes) but a coach does have a large tool kit to help the Big Idea become a Reality. Fortunately, people now have time and resources to invest in themselves in this kind of growth.

  3. Spirituality. If you've tracked the phenomenal success of James Redfield's Celestine Prophecy on the NY Times best-seller list since 1994, you get a sense of just how many people are willing to look at, and consider, the notion of spirituality. Wow. Many coaches are spiritually based -- even the ones who coach IBM and AT&T. America is getting spiritual quickly. (Our working definition of spirituality? How connected you are with yourself and others.") The coach helps the clients to tune in better to themselves and others.

Please, give me some context about coaching...

A personal coach does just what an athletic coach or music teacher does, only in a more complete and bigger way. A coach challenges you and takes the time to find out what 'winning in life' means to you. A coach is your partner in living the life you know you can accomplish, personally and professionally. A coach is someone to hold you accountable for your life, to make sure you really do live up to your potential.

No matter where you are in life, there is always a desire for more. More success, more money, closer relationships, a deeper feeling of meaning in life, etc. It is the nature of people to want to attain more, become more, be more, and we all struggle with how to get what we're looking for.

Most people believe that "hard work and doing it on your own" are the keys to finding the life, success, money, or happiness that they seek. They believe that a price must be paid to attain what they want, and often that price is poor health, not having enough time to enjoy life, strained family relationships or lessened productivity. The saddest part is that, even though this effort may result in more of something, it is often not the something you had in mind, and you are back where you started, or worse, further from your real intentions.

Athletes and performers know about this trap. They know they need someone else, a trained someone else to help them set goals, discover real needs, and work effectively toward ultimate goals of excellence. So, they are willing to hire a coach or a teacher. No serious athlete or musician would expect to progress very far without one.

What about people who are already doing great in their lives. Why would they need a coach?

They might not need a coach. But it is helpful to find out: Are they doing what they most enjoy? Are they tolerating anything? Is life easy? Are they going to be financially independent within the next 15 years? Do they have what they most want? We've discovered that, often, people need to expect more out of their lives. A coach can help in this process.

Can a dependency be created between coach and client?

Not really. The client may "need" the coach in order to maximize an opportunity or accelerate their growth, yet not be "dependent" on the coach. Anyone who's up to something "needs" structure, advice, support and a place to brag, so in that sense, the coach is necessary. But an emotional, psychological dependency is not created. The coach works with people who are just fine and strong enough on their own. Remember, we're not resolving issues here. The coach is helping the client to create a better future: More success, more money, and a higher quality of life.

Can I hire a coach just for a short-term, special project?

Yes. Some clients hire a coach to help them accomplish specific goals or projects. Usually, however, the client keeps working with the coach after that because there are even more interesting things to accomplish.

How long must I commit if I start working with a coach?

Most coaches ask for a three to six month commitment but usually let you stop immediately if coaching is not working for you right now. Very, very few personal coaches ask for a written agreement or contract. For the professional or corporate client, however, a signed agreement is simply good business.

What does it cost to hire a coach?

Most coaches working with individuals charge about $200 to $500 per month for one half-hour call per week. Executive coaches charge more and some clients work with a coach for an hour or two a week. It all works out to about $100 to $150 per hour. Obviously, corporate coaching or programs is more, often running twice that per hour or $1,000 to $10,000 per month.  


How is coaching different from consulting? Therapy? Sports coaching? A best friend?

Consulting. Coaching is a form of consulting. But the coach stays with the client to help implement the new skills, changes and goals to make sure they really happen.

Sports. Coaching includes several principles from sports coaching, like teamwork, going for the goal, being your best. But unlike sports coaching, most professional coaching is not competition or win/loss based. We strengthen the client's skills as compared with helping them beat the other team. It's win/win.

Best friend. A best friend is wonderful to have. But is your best friend a professional who you will trust to advise you on the most important aspects of your life and/or business? Have a best friend and a coach.  

Therapy. Coaching is not therapy. Both use numerous skills in common, such as active listening, reframing and empathy, which is precisely why therapists are so well-suited to coaching.
The key difference between coaching and therapy has more to do with mindset than method. While both coaching and therapy can help people make major life changes, coaching liberates therapy from its pathology-based underpinnings and focuses wholly on human strengths, positive passions and the nurturance of untapped possibilities. 
We don't work on "issues" or get into the past or deal much with understanding human behavior. We leave that up to the client to know and figure out, while we help them move forward and set personal and professional goals that will give them the life they really want. The goal of a coaching relationship, by contrast, is to help people tap into, and actualize, their deepest vision of who they are. Rather than serving as healer, a coach acts as a facilitator for a client's full flowering as a person a kind of gardener of the spirit.



What is the basic philosophy of psychotherapy?

Simply put, that we humans are great, that we're all discovering what we really want and that we can get what we want-- faster and easier-- by having a therapist who's been trained to help us put our concerns, struggles and stumbling blocks to rest. 
The emphasis is on guiding present thoughts and actions to meet the present challenges. There is also a focus on how present issues relate to past events and interactions, and how the future can be designed without the limitations that arise from the past. The goal of a therapist is to help clients tap into and actualize their deepest vision of who they are which lies at the very essence of their being-- by discovering and putting to rest past concerns that limit future growth.



Who are Marriage and Family Therapists?

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems.

Marriage and family therapists are a highly experienced group of practitioners, with an average of 13 years of clinical practice in the field of marriage and family therapy. They evaluate and treat mental and emotional disorders, other health and behavioral problems, and address a wide array of relationship issues within the context of the family system.

Marriage and Family Therapists broaden the traditional emphasis on the individual to attend to the nature and role of individuals in primary relationship networks such as marriage and the family.  MFTs take a holistic perspective to health care; they are concerned with the overall, long-term well-being of individuals and their families.



How effective are Marriage and Family Therapists?


Research indicates that marriage and family therapy is as effective, and in some cases more effective than standard and/or individual treatments for many mental health problems such as: adult schizophrenia, affective (mood) disorders, adult alcoholism and drug abuse, children's conduct disorders, adolescent drug abuse, anorexia in young adult women, childhood autism, chronic physical illness in adults and children, and marital distress and conflict.


Why work with a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Research studies repeatedly demonstrate the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy in treating the full range of mental and emotional disorders and health problems. Adolescent drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, obesity and dementia in the elderly -- as well as marital distress and conflict -- are just some of the conditions Marriage and Family Therapists effectively treat.

Studies also show that clients are highly satisfied with services of Marriage and Family Therapists.
Clients report marked improvement in work productivity, co-worker relationships, family relationships, partner relationships, emotional health, overall health, social life, and community involvement

In a recent study, consumers report that marriage and family therapists are the mental health professionals they would most likely recommend to friends.
Over 98 percent of clients of marriage and family therapists report therapy services as good or excellent.

After receiving treatment, almost 90% of clients report an improvement in their emotional health, and nearly two-thirds report an improvement in their overall physical health. A majority of clients report an improvement in their functioning at work, and over three-fourths of those receiving marital/couples or family therapy report an improvement in the couple relationship. When a child is the identified patient, parents report that their child's behavior improved in 73.7% of the cases, their ability to get along with other children significantly improved and there was improved performance in school.

More About Marriage and Family Therapy


Melissa L. Thornton, MBA, LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist
Personal and Professional Coach 


5 Poplar Street, Trumbull, CT 06611 
24 hr. confidential voicemail and FAX: 203-268-5437
802 Back River Road, Boothbay, ME 04537
24 hr. confidential voicemail and FAX: 207-633-6566

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