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Life Coaching/Therapy Myth #3

Life Coaching or Therapy is a pseudo-science, all mumbo jumbo!

Imagine this. You’ve lost your job and your career seems to be going nowhere. Your finances are a serious worry and the daily charades of life seem to wear you out. Your relationship status stands at messed up and you are up close and personal with an identity crisis. Mental health challenges have manifested into physical ailments. Depressed and anxious you struggle to stand strong against these extremely trying times. You seem to have tried it all; fought your illness with medications and your mind with will power. You even prayed every day for God to relent and cut you some slack. Yet you just cannot get a grip on things and like bone china you seem to be slowly crumbling apart.

MYTH: Life coaching and Therapy is a pseudo-science, all mumbo-jumbo!

FACT: Now hopefully (and thankfully) you may or may not be going through all of the above all at the same time, however take one or a combination of any two and you still have a pretty hard battle ahead. At such a point of time someone you know directs you to – a Life Coach; a Therapist.

Desperate for a resurrection you eagerly listen, go through several testimonials and then – wait a minute; you stop dead in your tracks. Why? Because you wonder, you are terribly concerned and you absolutely have to know if life coaching/therapy is a pseudo-science before giving it a shot. Seriously, do you really need scientific evidence to convince yourself to take a chance at success?

No, I hear you say.

Then what is that which is truly stopping you? Are you afraid of trying all over again? Are you scared to commit to your success after a series of bouts with failure? Are you overwhelmed by the diversity of practitioners out there? How do you go about finding a reliable life coach/therapist?  Are you skeptical of the financial and emotional investment? These would be more appropriate questions. For honestly having been there, done that myself the last thing on my mind was the placebo effect or any such scientific predicament. It was instead lack of clarity on the above. So I took the first step. The decision to do it. The rest followed suit with the help of some dedicated research on available life coaches in my area, holistic practitioners and their references.

Having said that it’s ok to be concerned about the subject, after all it has the possibility to bring about great results. Often people think that life coaches or therapists choose to disregard science and instead like to think of it as an art. But this common critique of the profession is filled with misunderstandings and errors that lead people away from a deeper understanding of the complexities that exist in the development and delivery of evidence-based mental-health care. Let’s take a look at some reasons why individuals often do not receive coaching/therapy based solely on what science says to do.

Truth and Science:

Let’s talk about what science is not. Science is not the same as truth. Science is just a method that moves us towards the truth. The amount of effective interventions we have yet to uncover through research will eventually dwarf what we have figured out thus far. Therefore it would be safe to conclude that scientific studies that do exist are full of limitations and likelihood that what is currently termed as a pseudo-science be proved as a scientific cure/breakthrough at a later date.

Generalizations and Science:

We all know that science generalizes in order to conclude. The problem with research studies is that they isolate various mental health issues whilst weighing them against a sizable randomized norm so as to come to an evidence-based conclusion. However how often are two people alike? How often are our models of the world identical in nature? Also for example; how often does a person suffer from obesity only, without it being linked to a lack of self-worth or any other limiting belief? What happens when a client approaches a life coach or therapist with multiple issues? Should the life coach explain to the client that while we do have a scientifically proven treatment for obesity, we don’t yet have an evidence-based treatment protocol for combined challenges? Please come back a few decades later? Obviously not. And so we use our expertise to tailor an individualized coaching plan best suited to the client history and current circumstances. Would this be what you refer to as mumbo-jumbo?

Rapport and Science:

We must consider the role of the rapport between client and coach/therapist as a potential variable that influences the outcomes of coaching and therapy. Surely that’s not the only thing that’s needed. No coach/therapist is sitting around sipping iced tea and making friendship bands with their clients. But a good therapeutic relationship is necessary and a key ingredient that helps people succeed. A skilled coach or therapist can help create a safe and comfortable environment to rebuild one’s capacity to overcome and triumph. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to measure how the client-coach/therapist rapport contributes to the healing process. I hope we do but what if we don’t? Does that mean it’s therefore not part of what makes coaching and therapy useful?

In conclusion; evidence-based treatments are absolutely the backbone of what coaches and practitioners should be using to help people. It is great to know that various colleagues in academia continue to work tirelessly to find evidence-based treatments for those seeking help. We need those scientists working for us all, and science will certainly contribute to our deepening understanding of psychological function and dysfunction. But right now, let’s admit it; we just don’t have all the answers…as yet.

And so for now I will continue to work tirelessly to help individuals, using everything I have in my arsenal. That includes evidence-based practices, knowledge, skill, empathy and staying committed with those, fully aware that we perhaps don’t have all the answers but continue to have the conviction and faith that together we will surely move towards wellness and growth.

Contact Tasneem Kagalwalla for more information on how Life Coaching works best for you.