Having worked in the healing & coaching field for years, I would like to share with you some counterintuitive ideas that I find true, and that many of my colleagues resonate with:
- The very issue that brought you to the therapist/ coach, is usually not the real issue that needs to be addressed.
Be it burnout, addiction, chronic illness, anxiety, depression, whatever is bothering you is only a messenger. In the language of IFS (Internal Family System), the part that’s seeking therapy/ coaching is a “manager”, who wants to manage or get rid of the pain. If the therapist/ coach goes with the manager, wanting to help the manager to fulfill their goal, then the therapist/ coach would already lose her centeredness.
That’s also why healing and transformation take time. We need to first show compassion to the manager, have them collaborate with us, and then slowly go to the hidden but more crucial territory.
- Before you get fundamentally better, it may look like you’re going backward for a while.
Healing shakes things up. The carefully preserved status quo no longer serves you, and now with a therapist/ coach, you can’t deny it further. That is good news in the long run, but for a short period of time, your system may experience an internal alarm: “Watch out! We’re in danger!”
And then the old sweet habits will kick back in to help you keep the old identity of yours. That’s why you may “relapse” into drinking, smoking, eating junk food, and binging on porn… Actually, in my practice, I don’t use the word relapse at all, as if healing is linear, or if something repeats then it’s a failure.
- When therapy/ coaching works, it’s not necessarily because of the methods or insights, but mainly because of the attention, the presence, and the relationship.
We are social animals; we need lots of cuddles, laughter, eye contact, and companionship. Most people who seek healing did not have enough of these when they were young or do not get them from family or friends.
A therapy/ coaching container, however, would provide undivided attention, open curiosity, compassionate words, and even touches. These alone are already transformative. What’s even more powerful is if the therapeutic/ coaching relationship is authentic, vulnerable, calling out bullshit, welcoming conflicts, and assuming the best intention mutually. Then the client is directly experiencing what it’s like to be in a healthy, mature relationship.