Do you feel stuck in a rut? Are you lacking direction for your life, or the motivation to initiate positive change? Are you struggling to set and achieve goals? Maybe you have a goal in mind, a problem to be solved, and want a specific end result. If so, you may consider enlisting the help of a professional Christian coach. If you’re ready to change your life, this article will offer helpful information on how coaching can empower you to achieve your goals.
How Could a Christian Coach Help Me?
A coach can help you identify what is keeping you from reaching your goals. They can transform thoughts, empower self-efficacy (the belief you can do it), and change patterns. These could be patterns of feelings, thoughts, or behaviors; patterns that contribute to success as well as paralysis.
Although there are numerous drivers to unhealthy choices, positive, affective optimism and hope (the belief that in the future things will work out) are drivers to healthy choices.
A coach can help you figure out what you want to do and how to do it. This often includes a plan — a plan that initially focuses on small, specific, attainable, and reasonable objectives that highlight your abilities.
Strategies to Improve Behavior
There are many strategies to improve behavior, including:
- Regular exercise
- Quality sleep
- Positive well-being
- Focus (FLOW)
- Readiness to change
These are just a few of the many strategies available to help you live your best life. There are also clinical orientations or approaches. Coaching pulls from Solution Focused, Cognitive Behavioral, and Rational Emotive clinical orientations. I believe the ideal approach is treating the whole person. More on that in a different article.
Should I Care About the Difference Between Psychotherapy and Coaching?
If you take away the titles, the goal of both psychotherapy and coaching is to achieve outcomes. However, psychotherapy and coaching are two services that are often confused. They can unite in educating, empowering, and equipping clients with tools toward improved behaviors. They can differ in scope of provider, duration of treatment, training standardization, and who is providing the services.
While many may value exploring these strategies, they also acknowledge it is not always easy to consider a change. So no matter how you explore your change journey, it is clear that the narrative can often feel overwhelming. Find what works best for you.
What is Coaching?
Coaching is a discipline that has been emerging as a patient-centric process, based upon behavioral change theories and delivered by health professionals with many backgrounds.
What does patient-centric mean? This means the service and solutions are designed around the patient. The patient is encouraged and empowered to implement the change they create.
The actual process may include patient-determined goals that encourage self-discovery, education, and accountability. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timelines (SMART) goals is a commonly utilized objective model.
Here each goal has to be specific enough that someone knows exactly what to do. The behavior should be measurable so you can modify as time proceeds. You want something to be attainable and reasonable so that you have the ability to do it. And timelines may include what can be done today, this week, this month, or in six months.
I also encourage goals that are personal, physiological (health), and outside of yourself (family, loved ones, faith, etc.). A physiological goal may be modifying your blood pressure. An outside of yourself goal may be for your children.
Both coaches and psychotherapists work to facilitate change in their patients and clients. As psychotherapists, nurses, physicians, and other professions add coaching principles, health coaching may be a comfortable place for a patient to initiate change. If a provider gets stuck, they may want to refer to someone with a license or greater scope in knowledge.
What Can Coaching Do for You?
Simply put, coaching is a means of developing capabilities. What can coaching do for you?
The first question is: Are you ready and willing to invite coaching? Secondly, just like talk therapy, rapport, and relationship are pivotal.
There is a clear consensus on assessing and setting goals that are built on engagement and connection, then identifying the current situation and exploring the resources for action to disrupt the current status quo, followed by implementation, reflection, or revision pulling towards an attainable change.
When I am offering executive coaching, I pull from consulting and therapy. An executive may want a different model than leadership or health coaching. Although experience and methodology are important, the most important outcome is client satisfaction.
One way to take steps toward positive outcomes is to become familiar with the models of coaching, namely: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Growth, Health, Steer, Cigar, and Clear. It may be hard to know which model is right for you. Instead of sharing how they are different, I will attempt to briefly capture some of the commonalities between the models.
As coaching grows traction throughout health care systems, we have also seen a variety of provider disciplines and backgrounds. In practice, coaches draw from Motivational Interviewing, the Health Belief Model, Active Listening, Social Cognitive Theory, Solution-Focused Theory, and Cognitive Behavioral Theory.
Each of these modalities has books and numerous resources. I am confident you can find arguably more than you want to know. Given the varied backgrounds and experiences, it is no surprise to see a lack of consensus about definitions, methods, and techniques. Inevitably, the definition of coaching has been stretched.
Here is a list of some of the many coaching models available:
- Business Coaching / Executive Coaching / Leadership Coaching
- Organizational Development / Industrial-Organizational Psychology
- Counseling Psychology / Clinical Psychology
- Sports / Performance / Coaching
- Lifestyle / Behavioral / Clinical (Nutrition, Stress, Cessation) / Health / Self Care
- Diagnostic Specific (Cancer, Diabetes, Anxiety, Depression, Sexual Health, etc.)
Free Ways to Get Started with Christian Coaching
If you are considering a change, here are a couple of free ways to get started:
- Ask yourself if you have an interest in exploring a perspective that may be different from your own.
- Are you okay with not solving the problem, but rather creating your best next steps?
- Do you want to work towards improved efficiency and effectiveness?
- Does your fear keep you from reframing or redirecting your thoughts?
Take the Next Step with Christian Coaching
A good Christian coach will facilitate and emphasize ability initially, and not overlook your faith. Have you ever noticed that when stress increases, we don’t do what we know we could or desire to do? It may be difficult to trust that God has a plan and a reason. It is easy to be consumed in the status quo versus humbly receiving difficulties as a sign. Maybe it is time to include God as one of your small, attainable, and daily priorities.
Sometimes God can call on us to change. Romans 12:2 states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
In my practice, we often discuss “not my will but His be done.” Through faith, we accept our limitations and humbly invite guidance. The Center for Creative Leadership says it well: “Unlocking a person’s potential to maximize his or her own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”
Coaching is aiming to learn from successes and mistakes by humbly inviting observation, reflection, assessment, action, aspiration, and evaluation. Still, many times we don’t always understand the God-given challenges.
It may be difficult to listen through the cognitive fog. Coaching often utilizes reflective and active listening. Showing you are listening, putting aside distracting thoughts, and paraphrasing what is heard are a few basic concepts you may learn in a coaching relationship.
If you know you want to change but are not quite sure how best to do so, maybe coaching is the path for you. Perhaps trusting in God is part of the plan. Accepting your limitations and moving towards a new best step forward may be best accomplished through coaching.
“Casual Meeting”, Courtesy of Toa Heftiba, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Framing”, Courtesy of Pine Watt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Do Something Great”, Courtesy of Clark Tibbs, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reading List”, Courtesy of My Life Journal, Unsplash.com, CC0 License