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Relationship Coaching

As a counselor and relationship coach, I don't understand the reason so many couples wait until their marriages/relationships reach a chronic/terminally dysfunctional level before they get help. I've discovered that most of the time, relationship coaching is often beneficial when the relationship is pretty solid...you are just setting some goals and strengthening a foundation you already have. If you wait until you can't even talk to each other anymore, or even stand the sight of each other, then you do need a counselor! See it from this perspective: You're on a swim team, or basketball team, or some other competitive activity that might not be athletic. The point is, you already have a foundation. You have already had the interest in the activity for quite some time, and you have invested time, financial resources, and energy into it. You already have basic, and even intermediate skills. You are not just entering into something blindly. The same is true for a solid relationship (whatever it may be). The commitment is there. The respect is there. The friendship foundation is there. So what's the point of coaching? What does a coach do? Coaches guide people in achieving specific goals. The athlete (or couple) already knows which goals they want to achieve, so the coach encourages the person to do this by using current strengths, by focusing on vision, and by overcoming any obstacles that can occur. Coaches generally give clients assignments outside of the sessions. What happens is the person's skills are enhanced; he/she has better insight into overcoming obstacles so that the vision is not obscure. How is counseling different? It involves assessment and diagnosis from the DSM-5, which means that a counselor assesses for a mental health condition/illness, especially if insurance is used). Counseling is done from a "negative" perspective, as if something is wrong with the person or persons from the outset, and the therapist is there to assist in fixing the issue using a plan of treatment. Counseling is for the dysfunction in a relationship, like infidelity, insecurity, mistrust, and other heavy issues where the solid foundation is obviously not there. Keep in mind that short-term EAP (Employee Assistance Program) counseling is NOT appropriate for this either! That's like applying a Bandaid over a hemorrhage. What are some good examples of when to use relationship coaching?

  • At the beginning of the year a couple decides they want to plan a vacation in Europe.

  • A couple is deciding to have a baby and they are in the planning stages.

  • One party is going to deploy in a year.

  • You have a senior who is going to attend college the next year.

  • One party is deciding between 3 different job offers.

  • The couple wants to spice up their relationship sexually.

  • A couple in the swinging lifestyle wants to redefine some of their rules/boundaries.

  • A divorced couple (where the divorce was amicable) wants to set up a co-parenting plan.

All of these are very good reasons for a couple to use a relationship coach. In each situation, there is a vision; there are specific goals to achieve; and the couple already has a foundation.

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