United Front: Ship’s Log Planner Course
Introduction to Selves-Coaching
What is coaching?
A coach is any person who helps others “play a better ‘game'” of any type. By “game” we mean business, life, being an executive, creating art, writing, sports, etc. Part teacher and mentor, but mostly an external mirror — the coach provides blunt honesty, the right questions, analysis, intuition and knowledge to help someone adjust their behavior to influence their outcomes. It’s often best if the coach has lived experience in the area in question. For example, a football coach who once played football. But that’s optional; there are some amazing coaches who have never played the ‘game’ in question, they are extremely knowledgeable and insightful and have a knack for delivering what needs to be asked or heard when it needs to be asked or heard. Thus a great coach is anyone who can help you get to know yourself better or help you see things more clearly so you can make adjustments to what you’re doing and get the outcomes you want.
What’s the difference between (life) coaching and therapy?
It’s very important to note that coaching can be therapeutic. But coaching is not therapy. Both coaching and therapy have benefits and drawbacks, and a slight overlap in what they may look like. With the rise of life coaching, many therapists are “borrowing” some tools and styles from coaching — but due to medical ethics and other differences, therapy will never be coaching, and obviously coaching will never be therapy.
(See the diagram below, described in full here)
Life coaches are, when certified, a trained facilitator who primarily serves their client, setting aside their own opinions in order to facilitate their client’s life — as defined by the client. Coaches are Future- or Forward-Focused, deal with Individual Performance, Discovery, view their clients in terms of potentials, focus on client satisfaction, solutions, will share their experience more than give direct advice, help clients define and clarify their goals, and have their own set of coaching ethics. Generally coaches are paid for by the client or a business, but they ought to serve the client only. Coaches will help clients focus on Achievements rather than Obstacles, employ Active Listening & Curiosity, help clients build Competency and find Solutions and will also often help clients De-Stress and focus on selves-care and finding what they really want out of life. In other words, coaches focus on helping you get to where you want to be.
Therapists are credentialed experts who primarily serve an objective standard as defined by the DSM, or “norm”-focused standards. Even when a therapist takes on a client-centered and more “coach-like” approach, their training revolves around diagnosing, judging, and returning folks to this “normal” benchmark. Therapy training in itself, even if not the therapist in particular, focuses on the past and problems, analyzes behavior and “symptoms”, focuses on interventions, frames the client as potentially someone “broken” and in need of healing (which will be provided by the therapist), views people or behaviors as functional vs. dysfunctional, will diagnose and treat dysfunction, and generally looks to use “evidence-based advice” in the therapeutic relationship. Therapists are guided by medical ethics, are mandatory reporters, and may have to report to the authorities if a client discusses suicidal thoughts or ideation. Therapy is usually paid for by the individual or by insurance, or a spend-down account or similar work benefits. Therapists may specialize in crisis management & intervention, psychological testing, and digging and pushing for deeper understanding. Therapists will often focus on what distresses you and try to cure it. In other words therapists are generally looking for what is (already) going wrong.
Both coaches and therapists will Ask Skilled Questions, assist with Skill-building, help address Home-Life Balance, and foster Behavior Changes.
What is Selves-Coaching?
This is unique to plurals. Singular folk can “self-coach” – using books, programs/courses, journaling exercises, intuitive tools to spark intuition, recovery, self-help or self-improvement materials, devotionals, etc. to “coach themselves” — but plural systems can go a step further and have a variety of coaches in-system who can more objectively coach-mentor internal individuals and groups, whether or not any of these types of tools are being employed.
Why should we coach ourselves? We already have a therapist.
There is not and should not be any conflict between having both a coach and a therapist. They can work very well together as complementary services. Generally a therapist will help work on issues that come up from the past, crisis resolution, triggers, baggage, problems, defense mechanisms, etc. while a coach helps the client plan, dream, hope, plan, make and achieve goals, and remove obstacles from getting where they want to be. Having both at the same time can help get past-you out of the way while not putting your current life on hold indefinitely.
Thus there should not be any issue with coaching yourselves either. All this means is that you and your therapist can continue working on the stuff coming up from the past while y’all still have things going on and accomplish things in your life now.
If y’all are already doing both — awesome! Maybe y’all are already selves-coaching. Maybe not. There shouldn’t be any reason you can’t learn more about it.
Those who don’t need/want therapy — selves-coaching works for y’all too.
And those who need/want but cannot tolerate or have no access for therapy — selves coaching can be exceptionally helpful to y’all.
The Warning Note
As we plurals all share a body, we can be too close to our shared problems or become an echo chamber with no new/novel thoughts, ideas or inputs. So we want to warn y’all against relying solely on inner coaches as your only source of growth, insight, or wisdom. We all need more accurate mirrors. A pro team, brave friends, and the ability to accept constructive criticism is vital. Support groups, group coaching, group therapy, study or working groups, external confidants, outside opinions, etc. can all help fill some of the need for new or external perspectives. Sometimes we have to rely on ourselves to provide what we need — but that can come with pitfalls of outright denial, rationalization, avoidance, and blindness to our shortcomings.
Who is the inner-world Coach?
There’s no need to appoint anyone in particular. Y’all can take turns, walk each other through various materials, hold each other accountable, call each other out when y’all see issues, etc. Being brave with each other, bluntly honest, not taking each other’s excuses (an excuse is actually a sign that something’s going on that might need to be addressed — it’s ok to change a deadline or alter a goal, no excuses are needed; so when there’s an excuse ask what’s under it?), and helping each other plan out and achieve projects.
However, some of the stuff above may have spoken to specific individuals in your system. Perhaps there’s someone who thought they were your& inner-world therapist (which technically isn’t possible) who realizes they may just need a career change and be your& inner-world coach (which is totally possible). It’s also possible they just didn’t have the right word for what they were already doing. Congratulations! You’re a coach!!
There are courses for being an external-world coach online. Getting a big-name coaching school certification is hugely expensive (usually 4-digits+ USD), but there are less expensive courses on coaching skills, books on coaching ethics, techniques, tools, listening skills, coaching questions and attitudes, etc. that can do a much better job than we can of teaching the basics all around and becoming a “more official” coach (hint: I’d bet your library has some of them!). But note, as of right now there’s no external-world requirement for coaches to be certified, there is no coaching license, so you can be a coach (while not a certified or trained coach) inner world if you damn well please, hang your shingle, and get to work helping your systemmates do a better job at adulting, living, and enjoying life. If you do it right, if you’re asking questions and not giving advice — then you’re off to a good “coachy” start.
What do we mean by a coaching planner?
Mostly we mean that there are tools and assessments in the planner that help y’all coach yourselves throughout the year. To see what y’all want to work on, what’s in the way, and plan out the steps to get to where y’all want to go.
So 1 or more folk in your system can help y’all go through these steps, and encourage planning and sticking with the assignments, doing the assessments, help evaluate the assessments, pick focus areas, and help remind y’all of your& goals and commitments, and if something isn’t working — ask why and what y’all would prefer to do about it. Do y’all double down on the goal/task? Or do y’all pivot and change what y’all want to do? That’s the start of how to coach yourselves through nearly anything in life.
And if y’all want to take it further, y’all can do that and learn more about coaching, do some of the more advanced exercises and use more advanced system coaching tools, take some of our other courses, or find singular courses out on the web to translate to working for your system.
We hope this all helps explain what we mean by Selves-Coaching.