Why coaching and psychotherapy don't work

21 августа 1978 г., 10:22

Автор: Андрей Плигин – доктор психологических наук, 28 лет практической работы с клиентами, использует методы разных школ практической психологии.

Between the past and the future, working in the border zone

This question has interested me for many years, I have considered it from different angles. In order to indicate the breadth of the problem in the analysis, I will briefly indicate the scope of my interests and competencies. I have been engaged in neuro-linguistic programming for more than 25 years, being the founder Of the "center for NLP in Education". At the same time, my personal interests, as a doctor of psychology, all these years went beyond NLP, rushing into scientific psychology, especially in such areas as General, pedagogical, clinical and organizational psychology. My interests included modeling in the field of art, training, psychotherapy, business, as well as various schools of practical psychology: body-oriented therapy, transactional analysis, psychodrama, art therapy, Gestalt, Erickson's hypnosis, etc.

Working with complex symptoms, as a psychotherapist, I have long realized that in NLP, as in other schools of psychotherapy, there are no techniques for working with the so - called "difficult symptoms"-anorexia, bulemia, myasthenia gravis, depression, etc.Generative NLP, developed By R. Dilts and included in the training course "NLP master" of our center, only to some extent fill this gap.

Specialists in such cases usually throw up their hands and do not undertake to help. Only very few of them say " Yes " and are forced to create a complex combination of everything known, immerse themselves in research and creativity.

I was among the "rare few". Several of my first successful, but very difficult attempts to heal clients, prompted me to search for a fundamentally different level, different approaches, a new system for dealing with such symptoms, using all my accumulated knowledge and practical experience in these areas.

Deliberately resorting to such a categorical and provocative title of the article, I aimed to emphasize and focus your attention on the importance and urgency of the issue.

I will briefly discuss the reasons for the ineffectiveness of coaching and psychotherapy in their classical approaches.

As a rule, "difficult symptoms" grew up on certain events, situations in the past, are supported by the present and close the vision, the path to a successful future.

Now let's look at the" sphere of interests " of coaching and psychotherapy.

The therapist often deals with specific problem States of the client and their symptoms. During the process, the client's past is analyzed to better understand their current state. In other words, the emphasis is on the past to understand the present.

The coach usually focuses on helping people solve their life problems in the present and future, on achieving the client's career and personal goals in the future, based on their current state.

It would seem that the solution on the surface, given the time period covered by such psychological difficulties – is to combine the efforts of coaching and psychotherapy, thus eliminating situations with unprocessed areas that may cause a relapse or otherwise return of the symptom in the future.

You might argue that a psychotherapist does not necessarily have to do coaching, and Vice versa, a coach does not always have to go back in time and do psychotherapy, because there are also local tasks. Agree. But with a small correction. The situation is much more interesting and resembles an iceberg with its prevailing part hidden from the surface view.

В психотерапии существуют авторитетные школы оказания помощи людям с накопленными традициями подготовки специалистов, методологией и практикой работы терапевта. На основе разных психологических знаний, клинических исследований, анализа практики можно разработать множество авторских подходов, так же, как и психологических концепций, которых уже более 200. В европейскую ассоциацию психотерапевтов (ЕАП) в настоящий момент входит 22 модальности (самостоятельные школы), среди которых НЛП. В одиннадцати странах приняты законы о психотерапии, где психотерапевт — отдельная, самостоятельная специальность, получаемая в результате примерно 400 часов подготовки, использующая медицинские и психологические знания, но не являющаяся непосредственно выводной из них, так как она предполагает обширную, глубокую и многолетнюю, как правило, не менее 4 лет, подготовку в рамках одной из модальностей психотерапии. То есть велик риск достаточно «узкого» спектра инструментов, подходов, используемых в работе специалиста.

Говоря о работе психотерапевта, а она бесспорно часто оказывается результативной при работе с травмами, предлагаю задуматься, как часто при этом она бывает эффективной? И что подразумевается под эффективностью?

Во-первых, человек, приходя к психотерапевту и заявляя проблему, которую он хочет убрать, подсознательно ожидает, что его жизнь в корне изменится, а этого не происходит. И, когда травма прорабатывается, клиент все равно во многом остается беспомощным. Он не научился жить без этой проблемы, не знает как и не может изменить свою жизнь, стать успешнее. Его будущее не меняется.

Secondly, in therapy, especially when it is long and there is no quick result, sometimes overcoming the problem the client loses motivation. Talking to a person during therapy about how their life can change a lot, that is, in fact, integrating coaching tools into their work, could create a powerful motivation for the client to change, to work in psychotherapy sessions. Then the solution of problems occurs with a different motivation.

With this in mind, it would be very useful for the therapist to have the coaching tools and at least do a little coaching for the client even during therapy.

Coaching is especially useful in understanding and achieving the client's highest potential in professional activities. And clients with "difficult symptoms" usually have concomitant symptoms over time in the form of difficulties in the professional sphere, which aggravate the situation, and full self-realization would consolidate the therapeutic result, act as a supporting aspect in the client's life.

For coaches and in relation to coaching, the situation is even more complex, and the problem is more acute.

On the one hand, in many European countries, for example, in Austria and Germany, it is recognized as a separate profession, and there is a corresponding training of specialists on the basis of independent higher education, without which a specialist cannot legally engage in coaching.

On the other hand, I believe that coaching still has some significant weaknesses. These include the following:

  • lack of a clear diagnosis that determines in which situation coaching is ineffective for the client;
  • focusing each session on one specific task/goal;
  • lack of consistency;
  • eclecticism;
  • borrowing most of the tools from other schools of counseling;
  • lack of evidence of the effectiveness of the methods used;
  • the surface level of training of specialists in the framework of working with clients.

I have no idea to add to the number of people who criticize this type of counseling, and there are not a few of them, like everything new. In order to move forward, it is useful to notice the weaknesses of what you want to develop and improve. Being a relatively young type of consulting, coaching is going through natural phases of its development and has not yet found its clear boundaries, independent technologies, and even does not have a shared definition.

Clients who come to coaching in their current zone of immediate development may not show or show not very deep injuries, such as difficulties caused by the child-parent scenario. But the moment a client wants to make a quantum leap in their development, they will hold them back very much. This is why a coach, in situations with medium-term goals, and especially when it is strategic coaching and we are talking about the highest potential, may not understand why coaching is not effective.

So, what conclusion did I come to in my attempts to find a solution? How can all the wonderful, bright, but so different, sometimes seemingly unrelated, "ingredients" get the result? What are the chances of getting a positive result in working with such clients by combining efforts and techniques and tools? How can we use the accumulated scientific and practical base of both areas?

Systematic work with a person from the point of view of 3 times, the combination of two technologies will allow you to develop a common strategy for psychological assistance and tactically implement it, so as to make it more complete, deep, and effective.

I was able to achieve significant success in dealing with such complex symptoms if I began to explore how the symptom is related to the" way to live " of a person. You can say that all my practice pushed me to think in the direction of "lifestyle", "life path".

It was this principle that guided me when developing the author's scientific method "System formation of the life path of the individual", which is represented by two interpenetrating technologies "coaching of the life path of the individual" and"Therapy of the life path of the individual".

In this concept, the concept of "life path" refers to the individual trajectory or "route" of a person's life, his internal representations of the "project of life" and its external implementation.

Working with mental traumas and deep problems, "difficult symptoms", most often coming from the past, involves psychotherapy of the life path, and working with life skills and life tasks aimed at effective self-fulfillment, striving for the highest potential, overcoming life obstacles involves coaching the life path of the individual.

Taking into account the analysis of real practice of consulting, it is proposed to distinguish the following work options:

  • deep and long term psychotherapy
  • strategic coaching
  • first, psychotherapy, and then mid-term coaching
  • first, tactical coaching, then psychotherapy, and then mid-term coaching.

The technology "coaching the life path of an individual" is especially relevant for coaches, as it can become one of the answers to the weak points of coaching mentioned here and, at least, an extension of theoretical and practical professional training, a step to even greater skill.

Unfortunately, the scope of the article cannot contain a large and complete review of this method.

This approach allows you to make a "win/win" for psychologists, psychotherapists and coaches. Each of the professionals can enrich their competence "at the intersection" of their competencies with related ones.

I am sure that the future belongs to searching and developing professionals.​​​​​


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