Thursday, September 10, 2015

Coach or Therapist

For academics (and other thought leaders and creative) seeking help, it is important to consider your needs, and match your needs to the skill sets of various professionals.

A general rule of thumb is to attempt to get your needs met with your own "natural" support systems. This can include family, friends, colleagues, mentors and others who will help you without pay. If you find that you natural support systems are not meeting your needs, than you want to consider the goals that you have, and what barriers are getting in the way of your goals.  

If you are struggling with writing and you know that the problem involves your feelings, thinking and behavior, than you want to consider whether or not you should seek the help of a mental health professional or coach. How do you know?

If the issue at hand pertains mostly to your writing and scholarly or creative productivity, or perhaps some other part of your work life, but is not present in other domains of your life, many coaches should be fine. Many writing and academic coaches can help you with nagging worries, anxieties about writing, and doubts about your work and career.

However, if these issues impact other areas of your life, or are more entrenched, long term, and pervasive, most writing and productivity coaches are going to be out of their league. Most should not try to help you overcome psychosocial problems that really are the domain of helping professionals such as social workers, psychologists, or other counselors. Mental professionals are trained to help you figure out the various other levels of help and support you may need, such as an evaluation for medication.

Of course, there is some gray area involved here. You may not be sure what type of help and support you need. If this is the case, let me know. I would be glad to help you figure it out, and help you find an appropriate referral to a mental health professional or another coach if one is better suited to your needs. 

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