A BLOG FOR PARENTS WHO WANT TO LEARN HOW TO NAVIGATE THE TEEN YEARS AND NOT JUST SURVIVE BUT THRIVE!
So what exactly is the difference between therapy and parent coaching? How do you know what is best for you and your teen? I’m going to walk you through what therapy is first and then I’ll discuss what is involved with parent coaching and how it differs from traditional talk therapy.
The American Psychiatric Association defines psychotherapy, or talk therapy, as “…a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties.” With this type of treatment, the focus is on an identifiable issue that is impacting your teen’s daily functioning. This means it’s impacting their schoolwork, social or home life. So in therapy our attention is on treating the issue and its symptoms using behavioral, cognitive and analytic interventions. The therapist will often look to the past in order to develop insight, awareness, and healing. As I work with my teen clients and sometimes their parents, we explore current patterns of behavior, possible sources of distress, and work towards implementing new ways of thinking and coping with life’s situations. Therapy helps my clients see they are the solution not the problem.
When it comes to coaching the focus is on untapped present possibilities so that we can link it to awareness, which leads to action. We do not discuss past transgressions, injuries or sources of distress. During parenting coaching sessions, the coach has a structure in mind and is more focused on being task/goal oriented. The coaching sessions are concerned with the present and future, as well as being collaborative and informational in nature. Parent coaching is about working together as a team towards a desired goal. This can look like better communication between parents and teen, implementing more positive discipline practices, developing healthier boundaries, increasing parenting confidence, creating healthy self-care practices, and learning about how to best support your teen who might be struggling with a mental health issue.
So as you can see one of the main differences between therapy and parent coaching is that with therapy the focus is on working with the identified client, which is often the teen in my work. Coaching on the other hand would be centered on guiding the parent(s) and helping them learn new skills for parenting their teens and thriving during this new phase in parenthood. Another major difference is between the way the therapist/coach works with the client. As a therapist there is an understanding that they are the expert and are there to heal whereas the coach is seen as a collaborator/partner.
Still wondering if therapy or parenting coaching is for you and your teen? Check out my quiz for helping you decide which option would be best!