What is the difference between parent coaching and therapy?

At some very young age, I was bit by the travel bug. Maybe a whole flock of travel bugs. I greedily combed the library shelves for books about people from all around the world and their various travels. For college, I moved as far away from my home state as I could without falling into the ocean. As an adult, I’ve traveled to Europe, Asia, South American. Even Canada!

The adventure of travel is full of ups and downs, moments of wonder and awe and joy, as well as drudgery, cold emptiness, and fear. I can’t think of a better metaphor for parenting than the journey.

As an adoptive parent, you are traveling alongside your child on a journey that is already in progress. You are their sherpa, their guide. Therapists serve as your family’s baggage handlers. As a parent coach, I am your travel agent.

Therapy helps both children and parents make sense of their pasts – grieving and healing old hurts and losses so each can be living in the present. Therapy helps adopted children with difficult beginnings soothe the hurts and confusions from their early life to help them take in the love and nurturing their adoptive parents are offering them. Therapy allows adoptive parents to heal their pasts to stay more rooted in the present moment and to become more kind and loving with both themselves and others. With this more solid grounding, parents are more easily able to offer healthy structures and boundaries to their children.

Parent Coaching focuses on the present and the future. Coaching helps parents navigate challenging current situations, evolve their skills, and achieve their parenting goals. Working with me, clients get plenty of guidance and support but also strategies and objectives backed up by a great deal of information, techniques, scripting, and kind hearted accountability.

As a Parent Coach I help you figure out where your child – and your relationship with you child – are at and where you want it to be. I help you plot a course for how to get from your kids’ current challenging behaviors and your own parenting worries to a much more peaceful home with kids who cooperate and are (mostly) delightful to be around. Together we developed a specific plan for how to make day-to-day life easier while making sure your kids are on the road to healthy, functional adulthood. Along the way, I help you learn to weather your kids’ emotional storms while keeping your relationship strong.

Parenting coaching, therapy, or both?

As an adoptive parenting coach, I often work with families whose members are also receiving support from a therapist. I see the two roles as complimentary, with the therapist helping family members address the past as I help parents get their families through the week more gracefully while building the relationships and skills kids will need for a healthy, functional adulthood.

Many therapists see our parent coaching and therapy roles as complementary as well. I get referrals from therapists who are working with a child and see that the parents could use more tools and support for dealing with the challenges of day-to-day behaviors.

Of course, not every family I work with is seeing a therapist or needs to. From time to time, I do suggest that someone seek out the additional support a trained therapist can provide. In those situations, I offer ideas and guidance to find a professional whose approach enhances healthy parent-child relationships.

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