Why Couples Are Turning to Coaching
Is coaching better than therapy, counseling, or even seeing a psychologist? Why would a couple choose a coach over other methods of support? These are questions that I’ve been asked a lot of late. I am going to answer that question by sharing some ideas about what coaching is and what it is NOT and why couples are opting for coaching instead of other therapies.
It seems more and more couples are contacting me for couples coaching. I’ve been receiving frantic middle of the night emails, numerous contacts from my directory service on Psychology Today Canada, and have been receiving record word of mouth referrals. It seems couples are looking for help in ways they never have before. Currently, the divorce rate according to stats Canada is assessed at 38%. Other quotes suggest the divorce rate is higher as many couples live in permanent separation without formally divorcing. Many estranged couples cannot afford to divorce and therefore live a divorced life within the same residence sharing food, lodging, and health benefits without accruing the high cost of divorce. It makes sense then that the quality of marriages are not as high as we hope for in this country.
With all of these gloom and doom stats and other acknowledgments, we can all agree that committed partnerships and marriages do face a myriad of stressors that lead to the ending of what once started with the best- intended commitments. No one wants to fall into a divorce stat or lead a life inside a failed relationship. You will never hear a young person say when I grow up I want to get into a relationship with someone I love only for it to deteriorate and die. The philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” By the time a partner/couple divorces, permanently separates, or continues to lead lives of quiet desperation there was a path they walked together that led to the de-coupling. Relationship neglect includes all aspects of disrespect such as what Gottman discovered as the predictors of divorce which he calls, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. These horsemen include criticism, contempt, defensiveness & stonewalling. Therapies, counseling, and psychology will attack the concerns in a couple’s relationship breakdown VERY differently than a professional wellness & performance coach.
What coaching will NOT do is what is attracting many couples who want to get their relationship on a better path.
Waypoint coaching’s role is not to assign blame, pathologize (treat someone as abnormal or unhealthy). We don’t diagnose or treat a couple as though they have some defect or malignancy. We don’t choose sides and act as the judge & jury within a couple’s conflict. Instead at Waypoint, we work with clients to identify what they want to achieve as a couple. We work through a process where couples’ define the overall goals and subsequent action steps. Couples’ also institute their own accountability support systems through the process. We treat couples’ with the utmost dignity and support clients to map out a plan to achieve the elements within their relationship that enhance wellbeing, love, devotion and foster what Gottman would call the beliefs & behaviors exhibited by master couples who go the distance. We educate couples’ on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (the best predictors of divorce or breaking up) as well as the antidote to these destructive mistaken beliefs and habits within the context of organic conversations. We support the growth of “couple support” that is, we support the couple to learn how to support one another. After all, eventually working ourselves out of a job with our clients is the goal. In couples’ coaching, the goal is that the couple becomes the best support to one another.
How often should a couple see a coach?
It all depends on the goals that the couple sets before themselves and how many sessions they believe they will need to invest in to achieve their goals.
At Waypoint, couples’ decide after the first coaching session and in private with each other how many sessions or which coaching package they want to invest in their relationship. Coaching is extremely hard work for serious couples. As a coach, I know that some couples’ are “coachable” and ready for change while others are not quite ready to embark on this journey. This is why I don’t ask clients to decide with me present. As a coach we assess if couples’ are in fact “coachable”. Coaching is a huge investment and the dividends are for life, therefore, it is essential that those who commit to the process are ready to go to any length in order to get their relationship onto the desired path. In coaching the couple determines the trajectory and both must be ready to put in the work. We know that those who reach out, who are ready to commit to the process, who are willing to invest emotionally, relationally, financially and put in the hard work with commitments to time and energy are those who will see the process through towards lasting change and the best relationship possible. Waypoint is a serious coaching business and if you are serious we will take you on as a client. Just like an athlete trains for Ironman the work is done in the training. The results are when goals are achieved and the ground work has been done.
Here is an example of how some have used Waypoint coaching:
Many couples’ have opted for the 8 session package to start and once established in new ways of relating & communicating opt to incorporate the 3 session package yearly for temperature checks until they feel stable and confident that they are on a excellent trajectory. Keep in mind these decisions are made by the couple as they become more and more confident in identifying what they need.
What couples’ choose to do will often be determined by what aspects of their life together they want to change. For example, more sessions spread out over a longer period of time have proven to help couples’ who have come to coaching previously experiencing chronic ongoing difficulties within their relationship.
Sessions for couples in serious distress (in crisis) are often immediately seen and typically in session weekly for 3 weeks after the initial emergency meeting. As the crisis begins to subside the couple often opts for a 12- week package spread out either bi-weekly or monthly. Further assessments and monitoring are discussed at which point the couple decides on the services they require, that is, how much more coaching they choose as well as top-ups yearly if necessary. The goal of couples’ coaching is to support these client partnerships in reaching their goals. Once reached they do not require coaching. Reaching goals is imperative in coaching. Coaching clients to be self-sustaining is paramount at Waypoint. Often many opt to check in about three times a year after the first year in order to ensure that the gains have been solidified.
As an aside, we do recommend that change occurs with more targeted work for at least 8 sessions so truly the number of sessions you decide on will correlate with the goals you want to achieve. It takes some time to eliminate destructive behaviors and replace those behaviors with the antidotes to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These positive new behaviors are taught and fostered. They include Communication Start-Up (using I statements etc.), Building a Culture of Appreciation, Taking Responsibility, and Learning and Implementing Physiological Self Soothing.
Waypoint supports clients and couples who have any relational communication concerns on the continuum of wanting things to just be in a better placer all the way to severe traumas such as infidelity, betrayal, & addictions. For a more exhaustive list of services in which Waypoint can support couples click on the title “Relational Coaching, Couples, Home, Workplace” on this website.
It is time to invest in your relationship. Hire Waypoint wellness & performance coaching to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
Hiring a Waypoint coach will help you and your partner learn how to walk in a manner worthy of one another’s love.
Thanks for reading,