More and more individuals are seeking what has commonly become known as a life coach, to progress to achieving any one or more of the following:
- find their purpose in life after years of feeling confused, frustrated and feeling a lacking of direction;
- manage and overcome stress and feelings of being constantly overwhelmed;
- being constantly busy but feeling little sense of achievement;
- not feeling they are living a full life and that time is passing quickly, even running out;
- feeling dissatisfied with their achievements to date.
Why work with a Psychologist as opposed to a Life Coach?
But did you know that psychologists are the experts when it comes to providing life coaching services? Here’s why.
1. Practising psychologists are regulated by law and regulation bodies.
It is important to recognise that in Australia, life coaching and obtaining the accreditations to gain the profession title of “Life Coach”, is currently unregulated; prerequisites for practitioners to gain entry to undertake a Diploma of Life Coaching certification are non-existent.
There is potential risk for clients in working with individuals who may not have received rigorous training, monitoring and mentoring – whereas these factors are part of a psychologist’s training to become a registered professional.
If you are seeing a specialised psychologist, they will have completed a minimum of 6 years’ full-time integrated training undertaken coursework, research and practical placements.
The journey to become a psychologist in Australia involves intense, hard work.
Australian psychologists initially undertake rigorous training:
- The Undergraduate: An initial full-time 3 years of undergraduate studies, which includes integrated study and workshops, research and work experience placements.
- Honours: After successfully completing undergraduate studies, students are required to undertake Honours, which requires a year of additional coursework and undertaking an intense research study which may qualify for submission into international industry journals.Getting accepted to be able to undertake Honours is not automatic entry; students have to apply and can be refused entry.
- Conditional Registration: Upon completing Honours, psychologists can only gain partial or conditional registration where they are required to practice under the supervision of a fully-registered psychologist. Students can see clients (under directed supervision) or continue into furthering their studies.
- Specialisation – 2-3 additional years of Research and Study: Commonly 2 years’ undertaking a Master Degree or 3 years if completing a PhD or Doctorate degree, only then entitles students to become specialised in clinical, organisational, health, sport and exercise … or other specialist field. They apply here for full registration as an Australian Registered Psychologist and go on the national list of service providers available to the public.
For the psychologist you choose to work with, Australian law dictates their professional development does not stop here!
Australian Psychologists are accountable to the Australian Psychological Society to continue their professional development activity through research, undergoing assessments, ongoing supervision and coaching by senior experts who have been practicing evidence-based frameworks and strategies with clients for many, many years.
It has become commonplace for life coach training schools to charge significant fees for both training and use of the training materials for the ongoing development of a student’s practice.
In choosing to see a psychologist, you have the comfort of knowing your practitioner has received ongoing, specialised training for at least 4-5 years and has been continually assessed along their whole journey to be consulting and guiding you today. Furthermore, you can have 100% confidence in knowing they are bound to continually improve – which means better and better standards and increased value for you – continually!
2. Psychologists are uniquely trained and bound by a duty of care.
You may think:
“There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just feeling sad and have been for while awhile. I just need to talk to someone to get my thoughts in order and get myself back on track. This is only temporary; I’ll be okay in a few weeks.”
Whilst this may be true, there may also be underlying issues which cause you to repeat the same patterns which brought you into a downward spiral to begin with. And on occasion, some of those patterns may be quite deep-seated with potentially harmful consequences if they are repeated for much longer – not just for you, but those around you and sometimes those you love the most.
If individuals who seek life coaching have mental health problems there is a danger they may not be receiving appropriate treatment provided by a trained mental health clinician, should they not be seeing a psychologist.
There is a great concern regarding the practice of life coaching – particularly regarding the suitability and qualifications of those delivering coaching services – as the industry is unregulated, practitioners are under no requirements to undertake continual professional development activities, and there is no ability to deal with critical issues in a timely space.
Part of the basic training psychologists undertake in first year is to be able to recognise and act in a strategic manner that protects clients’ best interests, protects their confidentiality and provides a flow-chart protocol of steps that need to be taken in emergency circumstances. Not only is the psychologist equipped and trained to act but so are those immediate support people organisations and people around them.
These are part of the basic terms and conditions a psychologist will discuss openly with you and is a normal part of the therapeutic contract of care.
3. Psychologists are highly equipped to use evidence-based practices and frameworks that not only foster healing but achieve peak personal effectiveness.
There is a grand misconception that psychologists only deal with individuals who might experience depression, anxiety, grief, loss, schizophrenia, bipolar, post-traumatic stress, abuse, domestic violence etc.
As a specialist in sport and exercise psychology, the common perception is that I “psych people up and motivate them”, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. To do so would be unprofessional and a short-lived strategy.
Whilst I – and my fellow specialists – work in a focused way with individuals experiencing these conditions, we are more than aptly trained to take the individual from functioning “below the line” to functioning “well-above the line”, and achieving exceptional results beyond what they originally thought possible.
Psychologists are trained experts in facilitating cognitive (thoughts) and behavioural change to not only support and lead individuals to process and heal through mental illness, trauma and significant life challenges and transitions, but also coach clients to develop and use strategies to gain maximum personal effectiveness.
Research is increasingly demonstrating that psychologists facilitating life coaching strategic training to individuals, achieve significant long-term results in both high-school age young adults as well as individuals beyond schooling ages. More and more studies are documenting the success of such programs.
Imagine, that across all areas of your life (Wheel of Life – Money and Finance, Career, Social and Leisure Activities, Intimate Relationships, Health and Fitness, Spirituality and/or Religion), you had a game plan to be able to work through all challenges:
- You knew how to determine your current situation?
- You knew what questions to ask to help you identify your challenges?
- You knew what and how to identify important signals, and personal indicators that tell you whether or not you are on track, or whether the choice you make is the right one?
- You knew what motivated you, or knew how to go about identifying what does?
- You knew how to identify what lessons lay in challenges and the process you needed to engage to work through and overcome them, because you had a fuller and heightened awareness of yourself?
And from here, you simply go from strength to strength.
Our goal is help you overcome greater and greater challenges and help you keep performing at your highest potential – the choice is completely yours!
Author: Helen D’Silva, B Sc (Hons), M Psych (Sport and Exercise).
Helen D’Silva is a Brisbane Psychologist, specialising in sport and exercise. For over 10 years, Helen has worked with clients to help them improve their performance in sport, the corporate workplace, or to reach their personal goals.
Freecall 1800 877 924 or book Brisbane Psychologist Helen D’Silva online today!