Coaches, Clients and Sex, Oh My!
How do coaches welcome sexual issues in their practices?Coaches, Clients and Sex, Oh My!
In an exceptional presentation, “Helping the Sex Starved Couple,” Michele Weiner-Davis (LCSW, sponsored by Harvard’s Medical School) made several critical points.
• A couple’s sex life is the best barometer of the overall health of the relationship.
• Impasses occur when there is a sexual desire gap.
• The challenge in working with these couples is to find creative ways to jumpstart the relationship libido, and rekindle the physical and emotional connection.
• The partner with the lowest sex drive sets the agenda
• When you say, “no,” be sure there’s a when
Elsewhere , human sexuality specialist Lawrence Rosenberg (Ph.D), mentions a case in which a therapist was working with a couple whose sexual inclinations included sadomasochistic erotic play.
Because this couple had a child, the therapist was alarmed, convinced the couple could not be good parents, given their sexual expressions.
She was wrong. They were great parents. But the therapist’s own restricted parts, triggered, perhaps, by her own conservative sexual upbringing, resulted in misjudgments in treating the couple for other issues.
She had to consult with her own therapist to get back on track.
The question then: How do coaches deal with erotic, sexual issues with their clients.
Can they, should they and do they??
The post generated lots of comments, as one might imagine.
Bruce Brown, for example wrote:
I take your point, Kaleel, but I think there’s a huge difference between coaching and counseling. Actually I’ll throw consulting in the pool as well. I’ve done all three – and wrote a blog post a few years back about the differences.
When I was working as a counselor, which I am no longer, I and the group I founded were under the supervision of a psychiatrist with whom we could consult about our clients. I do not work as a therapist anymore, that’s not my focus or purpose, but I’d hate to think someone trained as a coach thinking it’s ok to work with a suicidal adolescent, a severely depressed person, or someone whose pileup of neuroses was so high they were ineffectual in life.
Surely, talent, compassion, caring, training, intuition, real-world experience, and humor all matter a lot in either field (consulting maybe not so much) but coaches are not supposed to work with people who need therapy.
And sure, there are therapists with limitations, just as there are coaches, carpenters, and bass players, but, with respect (really!) I don’t think that’s the issue.
Here’s my short take on the three professions:
You go to a counselor when you need to get well, to get to a level of competent functionality.
You go to a coach when you want to go forward, improving an already functional live.
You call in a consultant when you need an expert with specific knowledge or methodology to provide you with direction or specific relevant information.
Does this make sense?
To which I replied:
Yes, Bruce, it makes all the sense in the world! Thanks. And, yes, coaches working with " suicidal adolescent, a severely depressed person, or someone whose pileup of neuroses was so high they were ineffectual in life," are in deep and potentially dangerous waters.
Therapists working with " a suicidal adolescent, a severely depressed person, or someone whose pileup of neuroses was so high they were ineffectual in life," are also in deep and dangerous waters.
More so? Less so? Who can really say. I grant, as I said, all things being equal and according to conventional wisdom, a therapist should better able to deal with the issues you described.
But, you know, and maybe I’m just being provocative, it ain’t necessarily so!
What I think IS so, is that coaches, therapists, carpenters, mechanics recognize when they are out of their depth; need another perspective. Need help. I’d rather take that as a guide than distinctions between therapists, coaches, consultants, etc. Who can truly say from where the best kind of help comes :)