Today on the blog, we consider coaching and therapy as healing modalities for teenagers. My friend and colleague, Lindsay Camp LMFT of Austin Teen Therapy, is joining us for a Q and A about coaching and therapy. We explore similarities and differences in our practices and share about our unique philosophies.
1. What are the goals of therapy and coaching?
Courtney: Coaching provides a space for self-discovery, problem-solving, and empowerment. As a coach, I like to see myself as a mirror for clients. I reflect back to them what I am seeing and hearing. This also gives clients the opportunity to consider how their self-expression is matching their deepest, truest desires and needs– or not. From there, I support clients as they imagine possibilities and plan action steps towards their goals. Thus, a foundational goal of coaching is to co-create the opportunity for tweens and teens to be curious about their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and to take actions that they feel good about.
Lindsay: Wow! So many similarities here! Ultimately, the goal of therapy is determined by the client I am working with. So that can look like a desire for healthier relationships at home or school, a desire to decrease feelings of anxiety or depression, or gain more insight and awareness, etc. My goal for all of my work is to support client’s goals and create a safe space where those outside patterns and habits can make their way into our work. That way, we can look at them collaboratively with compassion and curiosity.
Sometimes, there is some work we do regarding the language and feasibility of the goal. “I want help getting rid of my anxiety” is very different than “I would like support in learning more about my anxiety so that I can better cope with it.” Similarly, I work to help uncover motivations for goals. A goal that is predicated on someone else’s desires deserves some attention and curiosity from us before we get started!
2. Who is a good fit for your services?
Lindsay: My practice is focused around work with adolescents, who by definition have entered into puberty and are not yet recognized as adults. The clients I work with are often looking for a resource outside of their social, family, and education networks to serve as an unbiased refuge to safely explore their inner and outer worlds.
My office is welcoming and safe for those are: exploring sexuality, gender, spirituality, boundaries, and/or purpose; experiencing depression, anxiety, and other human struggles; black sheep; and those wanting to explore and deepen relationships with themselves and others.
Clients that seem to find me most helpful are those who have been invalidated by others in their lives and are working towards loving themselves and others with the help of boundaries and self-care. Newbies to therapy, those who are resistant or reluctant to come, and those who identify that opening up is hard for them tend to be some of my most engaged clients after a little while!
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I also work with families once trust and rapport have been established with the teen I am working with. I love doing work with parent-teen dyads!
Courtney: I specialize in working with tweens, teens, and young adults– typically young people ages 11-21. I love working with people who identify as introverts, empaths, and highly sensitive. As someone who identifies with each of these descriptors, I find deep joy in supporting tweens and teens in finding ways of self-expression that feel safe, honest, authentic, and joyful. Ultimately, any young person who wants to engage in self-exploration, intentional problem-solving, or goal-setting may be a good fit for coaching with me! Like Lindsay’s work, coaching can offer tweens, teens, and young adults regular, consistent, and nonjudgmental support outside of their family and school systems.
The second element of my practice is parent support. In my 1:1, couples, and group work, parents have the opportunity to discover or reestablish self-care practices, while exploring quality, collaborative communication with their teens. Many of the tools and strategies for parents stem from my training as a Positive Discipline Parent Educator. I work locally with teens and families in Austin, as well as virtually with teens and families who live anywhere!
3. What is the beginning of working with a therapist or coach like?
Lindsay: The beginning of my work with a client looks like a “get-to-know-you” phase, which lays the foundation for deeper work. I engage with clients in ways to get to know how they view themselves, the world around them, and themselves in relation to their world. We talk about their family, friends, school, hobbies, struggles, hopes for their future, habits, and patterns, and their goals for therapy. During this stage, I encourage clients to use whatever boundaries feel right to them as they work on determining if I am a safe adult. For many, therapy is a brand new experience. For those, and those not new to therapy, we engage in transparent dialogues about what therapy is, what it can be, and how it works. This beginning stage lasts as long as it needs to and is constantly being built upon.
Courtney: Much like Lindsay, the beginning is a time for clients and I to get to know one another. We spend time talking about everyday life, getting familiar with one another’s conversational patterns and preferences, and discussing ideas clients have for their unique coaching journey. This includes goals, questions, curiosities, and resistances. At the beginning, we talk explicitly about confidentiality, the fact that the content of sessions is solely for the teen and their personal development (unless they are in danger of harming themselves or others).
Additionally, I invite clients I’m working with to notice how they feel during the sessions; they get to figure out their preferences and boundaries in sharing (or not) with me. The beginning of coaching takes a pace that is unique to each client and their unique needs. Sometimes we discuss action plans during the first session. In other cases, it takes 3-4 sessions (or more) before a client is ready to begin strategizing about an aspect of their life. Like any relationship, the coaching-client connection is a process, and the beginning is a time for teenage clients to explore and question what coaching can mean for them.
After reading a bit about the “behind the scenes” work of a coach and therapist that specialize in working with teens, you may have additional questions. Great! Reach out to either Courtney or Lindsay to follow up and explore our practices more deeply.
Perhaps your teen or a loved one came to mind while hearing our perspective. If this is the case, we invite you to get in touch!