Co-Coaching: “I’ll Coach You if You’ll Coach Me”

Co-coaching: An alternative to psychotherapy, counseling, or coaching.

Posted Aug 20, 2014

Your counselor says, “So, let’s schedule our next appointment, shall we?”

You say yes but inside, you’re not so sure: “I’m not making that much progress. Does he want me to make another appointment because he thinks it’s worth my $175 or because he wants my $175?”

Another liability of the counselor/client relationship is that unless the professional is careful, it can actually disempower the client. The client feels dependent on the crutch of a counselor. We’ve all heard of people who can’t make a decision without consulting their therapist, even if it’s between sessions.

Of course, therapists, counselors, and coaches, as trained professionals, offer advantages over talking with a friend, but under some circumstances, it may be worth considering co-coaching instead of therapy or counseling.

In the typical co-coaching session, the hour is divided in half. In the first half, one person is the client: describes the issue s/he wants to discuss—psychological or practical--and the other person listens, asks clarifying questions, and may tactfully offer suggestions. In the second half, they reverse roles. No money changes hands and there’s no power imbalance.

Every two to three weeks for a decade now, by phone, my co-coach Michael Edelstein and I discuss the widest range of issues from relationships, to health, to our feelings about politics. We find it very helpful both in developing insights into ourselves and in improving our lives.

Of course, co-coaching is only as effective as the co-coaches. Each coach must be a good listener and questioner, benevolent of spirit, and when offering insights or suggestions, does so modestly, without pressuring.

Co-coaching needn’t be limited to two people. For example, you might invite as many as six people who meet the above criteria to meet for an hour a month in which, anyone who wishes can take the floor to share their issue and the others then can ask questions and gently propose insights or suggestions. I have formed such a group, which I call the Board of Advisors, and for two years now, we teleconference monthly.

I want to stress that often, it’s wiser to choose a professional therapist or counselor over a co-coach…just not always.

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.

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