Do I Need Therapy or an Executive Coach?

You’re at a crossroads: Life is happening in full force; your career/business trajectory may be riding high but your marriage is suffering. Everything is on the line; and now your relationship problems are so bad that it’s making it hard to focus on your work. You’re feeling the pressure from all fronts. (Do I need therapy? Or an Executive Coach?)

If you’re asking the questions and thinking about reaching out, you’re in the right headspace—and we’re here for you.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the roles of what a licensed, Clinical Psychotherapist can offer, as well as an Executive Coach. We know because our team brings all of the above credentials to the table, to address everything from chronic stress, to cofounder conflict, to marriage or relationship complications—which are often brought on by the overflow of work-related pressures and challenges. The bottom line: know what you need and what questions to ask when seeking support. Let’s take a closer look at the differences.

What Can an Executive Coach Offer?

An Executive Coach is an excellent resource for anyone in a high-pressure career track considering the following:

—Transitioning from a high leadership position in a well-known industry into a founder role—whether starting their own company, or trepidation about leaving a well-paid, well-established role, to follow a trajectory with more unknowns, but that’s also potentially incredibly rewarding on many levels.

—An Executive Coach can help address questions such as: “Do I leave my paid role to start my own company? Which is my dream, but I’m tethered to my current corporation’s reputation and succession wheel? Do I take a leap of faith and chance failing?”

—Additionally, sessions with an Executive Coach can improve leadership and business efficacy; heighten emotional intelligence, including self awareness; strengthen team resilience during adversity and change and accelerate goal achievement.

Credentials: Executive Coaches can come from any background, and are often former executives themselves. While there’s no required education or training, certain certifying bodies do issue official certifications to become Executive Coaches—which is a good thing to look for. Typically it’s a yearlong certification and education (a Master’s certification, which is very different from a MA degree). Always inquire as to what level they were certified (as there are levels) and how many years of training/experience they’ve had as an Executive Coach.

Also: What other qualifying criteria does the individual have? Were they, for example, a founder who exited their startup successfully, or a business leader themselves who experienced team dynamics and leadership fatigue? Connecting with an Executive Coach or a Clinical Psychotherapist who has a business background and that understands first-hand the ins-and-outs and ups-and-downs of corporate or start-up culture and life dynamics is foundational to the success of the sessions, in either case.

Do I Need Therapy—Is That a Better Option?

A Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist with Executive Coaching and relevant corporate experience can address all of the above, as well as:

—Improve relationship and communication skills—in relationships both personal/professional—as well as address roadblocks related to overall happiness and general wellbeing.

—Mindset and Motivation: Surface feelings of empowerment, with a focus on improving relationships (including with yourself!), healing adverse childhood experiences as well as treatment of diagnostic disorders (e.g. ranging from anxiety to depression, ADHD to complex trauma/PTSD, neurodiverse challenges, as well as alcoholism and addiction).

—Generally speaking, a therapist is your go-to resource for addressing subconscious thoughts driving limiting behavior, coping mechanisms, and healing adverse and/or traumatic experiences.

Credentials: A Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist is an official healthcare provider, requiring Masters and Doctoral degree work, more than 3,000 therapy training hours, two state licensures tests, plus a background as a psychotherapist/psychologist. Coupled with also having an Executive Coaching/corporate background, that’s the sweet spot which makes our services that much more proficient, as we can connect on all levels, having had real world business experience on top of the clinical training and background. We can speak corporate, understand the inner workings of big business and startup culture, AND help you make your marriage and family dynamics healthy and happy. As a package, that’s what makes our Clinical Psychotherapists different from most. (Plus, you can get reimbursement for our work using out-of-network insurance benefits.)

How to Decide: Do I Need Therapy or an Executive Coach?

Real talk: Oftentimes, how individuals decide between whether to connect with a therapist or an Executive Coach is based on their state of readiness and consciousness—how deep they want the work to go. The unknowns of what therapy may surface are a whole different ball game, compared to what you’ll take away from working with an Executive Coach.

Working with an Executive Coach feels perhaps more understandable and tangible, less threatening, because you’re not delving as much into the depths of your psyche. Executive Coaching is a great entry point to living a more connected life. We’re all accustomed to being “coached” in our lives in some sense, whether that’s youth or collegiate sports or having early career mentorship. The framework of being coached, guided, feels a lot more comfortable, inherently.

Therapy sometimes has a reputation that it’s only for people who are mentally struggling—which, in most cases, isn’t the case at all. Therapy sessions do, by nature, go deeper into the psyche, which surfaces more personal insights and self-work to apply.  Electing therapy is a decision to commit to self-growth and working on your relationships.

Our therapy uses Executive Coaching as an intervention where it serves our clients, and we address everything from helping a female in a male-dominated industry overcome bias and prejudices while still showing up for her team and herself to healing families, married couples, and co-founders stressed by entrepreneurship challenges.

At the Musselman Institute for Leadership Insight and Marriage Therapy, we have the unique combination of academic pedigree and lived experience of knowing what these scenarios feel like, and speak the language—uniquely positioning us as thought leaders and subject matter experts when professional life spills over into personal life, and the reverse.

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