Is coaching the same as therapy?
Well, they’re both awesome, and they do share some similarities, but let’s look at the differences to help you decide which one might be the right choice for you right now (because it’s OK to use both at different points in your life).
Therapy is a powerful and valuable option for all of us. In therapy, you tend to examine where you are by looking back and gaining understanding about the why and the how of your past.
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or major trauma, therapy is a great place to start. If you’re in distress with serious issues that need to be unpacked, therapy is a terrific option, too.
Coaching is ideal for people who are relatively resilient and ready to do some self-reflection (this isn’t to say coaching is not for people with depression, anxiety, or trauma, but it’s better if you’ve already done some work in these areas prior to coaching).
Coaching is about getting honest about where you are, figuring out where you’d like to go, and then creating concrete steps to move you in the direction of your desired future. It can be challenging, transformative, insightful, and give you tools that help you navigate future challenges.
Some therapists do incorporate coaching into their practice these days, too.Because coaching is awesome and very effective for many people. That’s why so many CEOs and top business folks hire coaches like Tony Robbins. Coaching works!
What happens in a coaching session?
Each coach takes a slightly different approach to their coaching technique, but as a general rule, coaching involves asking open, nonjudgmental questions that helps you to examine your issues, questions, and patterns from a new perspective.
Coaching is based on the belief that the client holds the wisdom about their own life and choices, so the goal is to help you unlock your own truth using transformational questions and reflection.
Coaching often involves homework that helps you move towards your goal between sessions. Homework can include things like journaling, research, visualizations, activities, experiments, practice conversations, date nights, and more.
Speaking of sex coaching, how does that work?
Like life coaches and business coaches, each sex coach is different. So let me tell you about how I do it.
Some coaching is nothing more than open-ended questions with the coach doing very little talking or sharing.
Because most of us were never taught about healthy sexuality or the realities of how our bodies work, and even fewer of us were taught how to talk about sex with our partners, education is a big part of my sex coach practice.
Most sessions are dominated with introspective questions and making plans for moving you towards your goal, but I do offer information, resources, and suggestions when we stumble on a learning opportunity (like how desire and arousal really work or where erectile tissue resides in your body).
I like laughter, too, because sex and relationships can get awfully heavy, really quickly, and that's not the best environment for staying curious and creative.
Is there…sex in sex coaching?
Yes! Er... maybe. But not with me.
In our sessions, we may discuss sex, your body, the way things feel, and what you want and how to ask for it. We create a safe space for you to voice things you may never have shared or explored before.
As a sex coach, I do not engage with my clients in a sexual way (and yes, I do get requests for sex somewhat regularly).
It’s not uncommon for sex to be folded into your homework, though!
Some clients choose to explore their body, to self-care with bubble baths, to buy a new toy and test it out with a partner, to experiment with asking for something new in bed, or to prioritize sexy time with a partner.
Depending on the issues we’re working through and the goals you’d like to attain, sex may not even be discussed in a session. Why? Well, we may need to focus on your feelings, on your relationship, or on what’s holding you back in other areas of your life that’s preventing sex from happening.
We co-create together.
What if sex isn't the problem? Maybe it's trust or commitment or we're just feeling...uninspired in general?
I have completed Level 1 and Level 2 Clinical Training in the Gottman Method Couples Therapy, which is a research-based approach to relationship therapy that focuses on friendship, fondness and admiration, creating shared meaning, trust, commitment, and developing healthy conflict skills.
Whether your relationship seems to have become more like a stale friendship, you feel stuck in circular arguments and resentment is building, or you're feeling a little lonely, coaching might be a terrific place to turn.
Sadly, too many couples wait until they're in crisis mode to seek professional help. But waiting until things are really bad means it can take years to undo all of the hurt and the damage.
That's why I strongly encourage EVERYONE in relationship to a trusted 3rd party/professional (like me!) to help maintain a certain level of communication, connection, and renewal.
A friend of mine who is one of the best therapists in the world compares relationships to our teeth. We brush our teeth every day to keep them healthy. Daily routines and rituals with a partner are the same thing.
But, we still need to see a dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups to help us avoid bigger and more painful issues like root canals. Some people avoid the dentist, but then end up needing tons of surgery that can cost a lot of money and time (and pain).
By working with a coach when things are relatively healthy, you can begin to cultivate a relationship that is resilient and full of growth and connection. The alternative is...painful (and potentially costly).
That's a long-winded way of saying that while I love working with issues of sex, desire, and intimacy, it's not all I do.
Do I have to be in a relationship in order to do sex & relationship coaching?
Not at all. In fact, if you’re currently single or dating, coaching can be a fantastic way to change old patterns, behaviors, and thoughts that were keeping you from finding the kind of relationship or sex you really wanted.
Besides, the only lover you’ll have for your entire life is yourself. It can be quite the adventure to learn how to seduce yourself, and it makes you a better lover in the long run.
Do people really need sex coaching?
Honestly, I believe everyone could benefit from sex coaching. Even me!
We live in a sex negative world with very narrow and rigid definitions of “normal”, “healthy”, “relationships”, and “sex”.
Most people don’t have any idea how their body really works, what they authentically desire in bed, what kind of a relationship they really want, or how to talk about sex in a healthy, open, respectful way.
And don't even get me started on sexual communication. At no point in our lives is healthy, open sexual communication ever modeled for us. It's super common for folks to feel ashamed, awkward, frustrated, or just plain lost when it comes to openly and easily talking about sexual needs and desires.
Sex coaching is a powerful way to rewrite the rules so that they work for you, so you can thrive. Sex can be awkward. Sex can feel like a burden. And so often we feel inadequate or broken.
A sex coach can help you realize that you’re normal, healthy, and deserving of love, pleasure, and respect. It’s good stuff!
What kind of approach do you take to sex?
I believe in taking an open, non-judgmental approach to sex. I do not believe sex or sexual behavior is something to pathologize or shame people over.
Sometimes I identify as a sex positive professional. You can read more about what that means here.
I don’t believe our desires, fantasies, needs, or bodies are inherently bad, even if they break from what society calls “normal”.
I believe in talking about sex, exploring what sex means to you, and creating space for all of the feelings and expectations that come with being a sexual adult in this day and age.
My blog is full of articles that will help give you an idea of what kind of attitudes and approaches I take to sex and sexuality.
I do not believe porn is inherently bad, I support sex workers rights, I believe we all have a right to pleasure and sex on our own terms, and I believe you can heal from trauma, infidelity, shame, and a sex negative upbringing.
Will coaching really help me with sex, desire, and strengthening my relationship?
Having a coach to help walk with you through the tough stuff can get you where you want to go much faster than you would on your own. It’s like having a cheerleader, an accountability buddy, and a sexpert helping you navigate all the tricky places where you typically get stuck.
We brainstorm, plot, plan, guess, and make all that sex and relationship stuff feel less lonely.
That’s not to say you won’t feel frustrated from time to time, have setbacks, experience failures and mistakes, or feel stuck during the coaching process, but you won’t have to do it alone.
And, like many things, coaching can completely transform the rest of your life or it can be a little blip on the radar - the determining factor is how ready you are to do the work and how open you are to trying on some new perspectives.
If you’re on the fence about what coaching has to offer, pop over and check out my client testimonials.