I want to be clear about one thing right away: I adore therapy. I have seen three different therapists: two for food and body image issues when I was in high school, and one in my 20s to help sort through relationship issues (as well as stubborn body image problems).
I gained some tremendous insight and benefit from those experiences.
They were not nearly as transformative as the experiences I have had while doing a self-guided deep dive into tantra and sexual healing and liberation practices for 18 months. It is my personal experience with these practices -- as well as the transformations I've witnessed among the other students in my program -- that compel me to take this controversial position:
You should consider getting a coach to help you address sex and relationship problems instead of going to therapy.
Where therapy can fall short
Again - therapy is great! I am not anti-therapy. But in my own experience, the transformative potential of talk-based therapy has been limited. Using my mind to try to identify "irrational" thoughts and then change them into more fact-based thoughts just wasn't helping as much as I hoped it would. I am very very good at finding evidence for anything I want to justify (aren't we all, though?).
I didn't know it when I started the tantra program, but I needed something that would get me OUT of my head -- not just try to get better at playing its games. I needed something that would help me FEEL the truth of my own beauty and worthiness in my bones, rather than just possessing a superficial cognitive understanding of it.
I "knew" on a basic level I didn't have to look like a Victoria Secret model to attract an amazing partner who would feel honored to be with me. And yet, I still found myself getting triggered by knee-jerk comparisons with women who I perceived to be more beautiful or have a better body. I was self-objectifying like crazy, even though I "knew" in my head that these thoughts and judgments about myself weren't grounded in my lived experience.
It wasn't until I started using breath work, emotional integration processes, and intentional self-pleasuring practices that I was finally able to notice a shift within my body.
Images or comments that would have sent me into a body shame funk for the rest of the day weren't impacting me anymore. And when they did, the effect was short-lived, because I was able to digest the experience from a place of self-compassion and spiritual perspective that I didn't have before.
Coaches, because they are not board-regulated or licensed, have more freedom to use unconventional or untraditional healing methods than therapists do.
This is a double-edged sword, though: some coaches will be so skilled in their art that it will seem that they have harnessed and transmitted ancient magical healing powers. Other coaches may not know what they're doing at all, but still charge $$$ for their services.
So how do you pick a good one?
How to choose a legit coach
Here are three pointers for choosing an effective coach to work with:
1. Look at their clients' RESULTS.
Check out the testimonials from past clients to make sure the coach has been able to help people with the problem that you also need help with. People can say a lot of things that are not true -- let the results speak for themselves. Of course, no one posts testimonials from clients who were disappointed in their results -- consider asking the coach how many of their clients have NOT gotten the results they expected, and why. Their response may help you decide whether to work with them or not.
2. Check out their training and methodology
This is not as important as results, but it does help to know that the person you are working with has received formal training in coaching skills. A lot of coaches think that because they have been able to achieve something in their own lives, they can help other people achieve it, but that's often not the case. A GREAT coach will know how to help you use YOUR intuition and strengths, and support you through YOUR specific points of resistance, to get you the results you're looking for, even if your journey looks very different from theirs.
(See the video above to learn about the methodology that I am trained in: the Vital and Integrated Tantric Approach)
3. Work with a specialist
Find a coach who has successfully helped people overcome the SAME problem that you are struggling with, because they will have specialized knowledge around that issue. There's no use paying a somewhat less expensive coach to get you half-ass results when actually solving your problem is worth MUCH MORE to you. Spending $3000 to get the transformation that actually changes your life is an infinitely smarter investment than spending $500 to keep your life the same. Working with a specialist dramatically improves the odds that you'll get results that actually change your life.
The financial barrier
I am very sympathetic to the fact that hiring a coach can be a HUGE, potentially insurmountable expense. Co-payments for therapy can also be prohibitively expensive, even when it is covered by health insurance. So of course, please do not add to your problems by spending money on a coach that you cannot afford to spend.
At the same time, I invite you to consider a couple things:
1. Overall cost and effectiveness
As mentioned above, spending $3000 to get the transformation that actually changes your life is an infinitely smarter investment than spending $500 to keep your life the same. Do you want someone to talk to twice a month for 2-4 years about whatever is on your mind that day (which is completely legitimate, by the way), or do you want a specific result, outcome, or transformation as soon as possible? If the former, therapy is likely the way to go. If the latter, I highly recommend going with a coach (provided you remember to use the 3 guiding criteria above!).
2. Investment = commitment
The more we invest in something (time, money, etc.), the more committed to it we become, because we have to justify the initial decision. This phenomenon is called "sunk cost" theory.
The effect of this can be seen in gambling (continuing to spend and lose money on a slot machine in the hopes of winning back the money already lost), and in relationships (staying with someone for longer than you want to, because you've already invested 5+ years with them, and if you were going to break up, you should have done it a long time ago...)
But you can make this psychology work in your favor by investing so much that you have no choice but to give it everything you've got.
In other words, if you really want something, you should be investing a somewhat uncomfortable amount into it, because then you'll be motivated to get your money's worth.
So ask yourself: will I be more committed to solving this problem if I find the least expensive person to help me, or if I take some time finding a professional who I can TRUST to help me get the result I need and prepare to take courageous action toward that goal?
To get super-practical with this, here are two questions to ask yourself to find the optimal price range to work with a potential coach:
- What is the MINIMUM amount I would need to spend to feel truly invested in this?
- What is the MAXIMUM amount I would pay to have this result / outcome / goal if it was 100% GUARANTEED for me? What is it truly worth to me?
At the peak of my body image struggles, my answers to those questions would have had me willing to spend anywhere from $300 to $10,000. That would have given me a lot of wiggle room to focus on finding the RIGHT professional to help me based on (1) client results, (2) training and methodology, and (3) specialization in MY specific problem and desire, rather than who was simply the most affordable.
The VITA Coaching Method
If you are curious about the coaching methodology I use, watch the video above to discover:
- How it's different from traditional therapy
- My areas of specialized training
- The 3 foundational practices that make it so effective
If you have any questions, leave a comment below!