I’m the Director of the Center for Cognitive Therapy, and not surprisingly, I’m a big proponent of psychotherapy as an agent for change, and even more specifically, a fan of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT addresses, “Why am I struggling to make progress on this issue? “What are my automatic thoughts and feelings around this pattern of behavior?” Understanding the “Why” is so useful, rich, and rewarding. In addition, the therapeutic relationship in CBT provides a base of accountability, warmth, and support.
Many come to CBT with the hope that it will be different from traditional psychotherapy and hope to avoid talking about the “why?” (family history, painful feelings, or the long-entrenched nature of the problem). They avoid the “Why” and then they are frustrated they have not made the progress they had hoped for, or quickly relapse.
I have been in several types of psychotherapy over the years both to continue my growth as a therapist, and to enhance my relationships, parenting skills, and mood.
The “why”- I felt clear about. And yet, I took that insight and went into my week in automatic mode, repeating the same habits. In other words, understanding it did not always lead to me changing it. Further, I wasn’t taking the time to visualize how I wanted things to be different.
Most importantly, I was lost in managing my business and family life. Life was happening to me. And I didn’t feel entitled to prioritize myself.
It wasn’t until I began meeting with an executive coach, Moira Lethbridge, that I became able and willing to change my behavior in a meaningful way. I turned to executive coaching for assistance with management skills, strategy, and clarification of my business plan. Yet, it became much more than that.
I recently heard the actress Natalie Portman interviewed about her experience with executive coaching on the podcast “We Can Do Hard Things.” She related that she began doing executive coaching to enhance her leadership and management skills as an owner of Angel City Soccer league. Yet, she saw the most change in her personal life with her family and friends. She noticed her wish to please others, and a need to meet other expectations even when they conflicted with her self-interest and health. Portman discussed a more mindful and active process involved in deciding which projects to engage in, friends to spend time with, and goals to pursue.
This is what I’ve learned to do. I’m not a visual person and was dubious that Moira’s concept of a “mind map” would contribute to clarity or purpose. However, I have internalized both the mind map Moira created for me, with my values, intentions, and goals illustrated around a guiding principle, and Moira’s voice. Moira’s voice gave me permission to dream about business growth, encouraging me to be realistic about the steps involved in that growth, and reminding me to delegate. Most importantly, I have been able to delineate my zone of genius - something I’ve never quite articulated to myself or others and make sure I am spending much of my week doing tasks that bring me energy and satisfaction.
I am more clear. Full stop. Grateful, and highly recommend executive coaching - as a complement to psychotherapy or as a different kind of agent for change.