Read time: 3.5 ranty minutes
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Settle in for a rant. This one’s overdue.
Therapists can be unquestionably brutal with one another. If you’ve spent five minutes in any bigger therapist-Facebook-group in the last few years, you’ve seen it. The judgment. The criticisms. The trolls.
One of the most popular punching bags for angry internet therapists is any therapist who seeks to create additional income streams, particularly in coaching or online courses.
The rants boil down to a few themes:
- All coaching is bad, unethical, wanna-be therapy.
- All coaches are bad, unethical, MLM-scammer types who just want your money.
- All therapists who choose to coach are bad, unethical, MLM-scammer types, practicing secret therapy willy-nilly across state lines.
- All therapy is better than all coaching in all situations.
- No one ever needs a coach. People ONLY need therapists.
If you find yourself nodding yes to any of these, I offer a few questions to consider:
1. There are therapists literally driving Uber to make ends meet. Shouldn’t we be yelling and screaming about that?
Shouldn’t we be upset about therapists being the lowest-paid of the highly-educated professions?
Shouldn’t we be upset that so many therapists can barely eke out a living wage?
Shouldn’t we be yelling about terrible insurance reimbursements, clawbacks, unpaid-overtime agency work, or the terrible salaries from the big text-therapy mega-corporations?
Why would you cheer on Therapist Bob for driving Uber to feed his family, but condemn him the minute he uses his *actual skills* in the evolving world of coaching and online education?
2. If the entire coaching industry is so wildly unethical, shouldn’t we be encouraging more therapists to enter it?
After all, therapists are held to the ethical standards of their licensure no matter what. More therapists using their skills to coach means a more ethical industry overall.
3. We accept that every person in the world would enjoy making more money in less time with less stress. We cheer friends and neighbors for promotions and job changes. But the minute a fellow therapist seeks those same (human) goals by using their skills in new ways, we condemn them?
Is a therapist not allowed to seek better pay and less stress?
Is a therapist not allowed to want a few hours a week with non-crisis clients, serving non-clinical issues?
If this were anyone else, wouldn’t you call that great self-care?
So why do you attack a fellow therapist?
4. Are therapists not allowed to evolve as human beings?
For many of us, the coaching and online education world didn’t even exist back when we went to grad school.
Are we not allowed to grow with the times?
Get excited about new opportunities?
Find new ways to use our skills and creativity in the evolving online world?
Is it, not human nature to change?
Aren’t we allowed to want different things in our lives than we did XX years ago when we joined the field?
5. Why would we assume therapists are secretly doing therapy across state lines?
How does that make any sense? Why would a therapist choose MORE hard work?
And let’s zoom out: If Tim the chiropractor realizes he’s happier and makes better money as a massage therapist, do we yell and scream that he must be secretly practicing chiropractic?
If a speech therapist realizes she’s happier as a special ed teacher, do we yell and scream that she must be secretly doing speech therapy in her class?
Or do we say, “Cool,” and move on with our lives, knowing people have every right to gravitate towards work they love?
6. Have you checked your privilege?
Blasting others in your field for trying to create better lives for themselves comes from a place of privilege. Full stop.
If you make a great living in private practice, huge congrats. Not everyone can.
If you don’t need to make a ton because you have a spouse or other financial support, congrats. Not everyone does.
If this therapist was your friend and you knew all the ins and outs of their lives and why they feel called to work in new ways, chances are you’d support them wholeheartedly.
So take a minute to check the privilege in condemning strangers simply for doing something that you don’t like or understand.
If you’re a therapist interested in coaching, I offer some reframes–especially to soothe your soul if you’ve been blasted online.
- You are allowed to grow and change and want different things all throughout your career.
No online trolls are paying your bills, so let them sit in their uninformed, judgemental places. (Someday some of them will be coming to you for advice about how you did it–it happened to me!).
- As long as you are following the ethics of your license, separating your businesses, and not treating clinical issues under the name of coaching, you’re doing it right.
If you want to feel extra sure you’ve dotted the “i” and crossed the “t” in the word “ethical,” we have a free guide that helps you get started.
- Coaching is an entirely different service from therapy and attracts an entirely different clientele…while using many of the skills you’ve worked so hard to acquire.
Coaching often allows therapists to feel more like themselves. They might use their life experiences more, or speak more freely about ways they identify in the world.
They might get to work more deeply with their passions or feel the full-circle moment of helping other people through a tough experience they also had to endure.
In short, coaching and online courses are new and evolving.
They are a completely different, non-clinical service,
but still, a vital service providing life-changing results in people’s lives.
Knowledgeable, ethical therapists are some of the best folx to offer these services
and shape the direction of the entire coaching industry.
Arbitrarily deciding that all coaching is bad, and therefore all therapists providing coaching are bad, shows an entirely uninformed and unexamined viewpoint– and does damage to your fellow therapists.
Our therapy licenses are not life sentences.
We’re allowed to evolve in our careers, just like everyone else.