Parts work is a method of working with one’s thoughts and feelings that’s based on the idea that people are multifaceted. When you say “a part of me wants this, but another part of me wants that,” parts work gives you a way to learn more about those conflicting desires and mediate between them, giving you a viable path forward and more inner harmony.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) is one of many kinds of parts work. One of its distinguishing characteristics is that it states that underneath the many parts of our personalities, there’s a core self, often written with a capital S. This Self is like the observer in mindfulness meditation, but more interactive than people often take the observer to be – it can communicate with our parts.
My coaching is based on a combination of IFS and Aletheia Coaching. Aletheia Coaching includes a form of parts work that is inspired by IFS.
The legal definition of therapy in my area is that it involves the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment mental illnesses or disorders. I prefer a less pathologizing understanding of mental wellbeing, so in my view the difference is that therapists help people reach a baseline of mental health while coaches help people reach goals. This means:
– I help people work towards a goal over a defined period of time. I work with people who are not currently in crisis and who have a supportive relationship in their lives, such as a therapist or friend. Since I am not the client’s source of support, I’m free to keep our coaching engagement focused on our goal, which makes it easier to see progress. While therapists often see clients on an open-ended basis, I work with new clients for a defined period of time, so that we can reflect on their progress at the end of each engagement.
– I keep my relationship with my clients as egalitarian as possible. While there is always a power differential in a helping relationship (addressed in my ethical standards), I lack some of the legal responsibilities of a therapist that require them to override clients’ wishes in extreme circumstances. I encourage my clients to think of me as a consultant with a specific area of expertise (which happens to be how to relate to one’s thoughts and feelings) rather than as an overall authority figure.
– I maintain different boundaries than a therapist. I only work with clients who can find their own sense of safety (with my guidance), which enables me to coach the client to build relationships with their own parts, rather than me building relationships directly with the client’s parts (which is necessary to heal from severe trauma but also riskier). This means I can’t work with people with the most severe trauma histories (at least, until they’ve found some healing), but it also means it’s easier for me to work with people I know, within boundaries.
If you sign up for a clarity call, you’ll see questions that check for whether you can safely work with me. I like to put the questions there so that you can maintain your privacy if you realize we’re not a good fit, but we can also discuss it over email or in our call.
Unlike a sports coach, a life coach is someone who helps people with self-development and life goals by asking the right questions, not by giving the right advice.
I’m a type of life coach, so I ask the right questions in order to help people dissolve the emotional blockers to their productivity. I don’t teach time management techniques, give motivational speeches, or hound people to finish their projects. If you want a coach who’s going to make you feel guilty when you don’t get something done, that’s not me.
I offer a 12-session coaching engagement to start with. I recommend scheduling these sessions every week for 3 months, for optimal momentum, so that means 50 minutes of coaching each week and another few minutes of filling out the post-session reflection form.
Some clients feel like their work with me is complete after that. Some choose to start a new package. And some feel like they have reached their goal in 12 sessions but want continuing support, so we continue in “maintenance mode,” seeing each other once a month on an open-ended basis.
I try to give each client some “homework” to do between sessions, but unlike most coaches, I’m not the one who makes up the homework. Rather, we discover during the session what the client needs over the next week in order to feel better and function better. It’s usually something like spending a few minutes each morning to think about what to do for the day, or making time for something they already care about in their life, like exercise or an ongoing project. So coaching doesn’t add much to your workload between sessions; it’s more that it clarifies what you should spend your time on between sessions.
It’s also not a “failure” when a client doesn’t do their homework. Any resistance that a client experiences is valuable information that guides our work in the following session.
I currently have a standard rate of $125 a session, and it’s the same no matter how you buy a session from me—as part of Painless Productivity, as part of a custom coaching package, in maintenance mode, you name it. Pricing isn’t a game I play, it’s just a necessary part of living under capitalism.
Speaking of capitalism, it treats us all differently. For some people, $125 is a strain. For others, it’s not a big deal. So I offer some flexibility around that standard price of $125, down to $100 for people who need a lower price and up to $150 for people who can afford to pay it forward.
I know that coaching is a significant investment, but I’ve found that this focused, customized approach to getting to the root of productivity issues can really be worth it. If it’s just not in the cards for you though, you can still benefit from my newsletter and free coworking sessions.