Tag Archive: Therapist

Are you aware of your potential? 3 keys to unlocking this awareness


Are you aware of your potential?  There is an inherit need for us, as humans, to want to rely upon experts. We all want to be the best at our craft, or with our health, so we entrust “experts” to help guide us to where we would like to be. The problem I have seen, however, is diving into trusting these “experts” so easily.  First, we have to ask ourselves how we define expert. A lot of online courses are deeming people experts in the medical and business field without vetting experience or approach.  You buy into the program, you get a certificate, and then you go find business. Sounds simple enough, until there are too many unqualified experts running around competing for your trust.

As a therapist, I see the above scenario a lot. It has to do with both wishful thinking, a need for someone else to validate what we’re trying to achieve in life, and from a place of trusting too much. No one wants to think or feel like they were led astray, so we buy into services that are more marketing platforms. Think about the term “health coach”. I am sure there are great health coaches out there, but many of them took an online certificate program and are now leading the decision making process for clients with serious health issues when the coach themselves doesn’t understand the health issues from the get go, yet they are using the term “expert” to sell their services.

We, as a society, buy into things. We are often looking to get paid without doing the work. We may have good intentions, but if there is a quick course to get certified as an expert without putting in years of training to achieve the status – well, most people are buying into the certificate! And we have this need to be perfect, to show off accolades (sometimes that aren’t earned), and to do more bigger and better and faster than our peers who may be competitors.

When you look at human behavior, you start to notice why it is we feel the need to buy from experts or have the best. Consider the iPhone platform. Each year Apple puts out a new phone. Are they stating the one you paid close to a thousand dollars for the year earlier is flawed? Yes, which is why you need the newer- more perfect- one. And the leader of the tech industry, Apple, is the one convincing you to shell out another thousand dollars. Is there really something wrong with your prior iPhone model? No. Can you live without a few thousand more pixels in your camera? Probably. But we buy because we are sold on the concept, not because the product is so much better a year later. Apple reinvents its marketing plan every year- not the cell phone.

Wanting to have the latest and greatest thing, such as a phone or a fashion item, is a part of psychology that is based on want and need. We want to be the best and we need to find ways to achieve it – even if it means trusting so-called experts with our businesses or our health. In order to break the cycle of bleeding money, time and trust, I suggest evaluating why you feel these “needs” when making decisions. Like I stated, there are some business advisers who mean what they say and do what they are supposed to do. There are health coaches who actually can benefit your well-being, but understanding the “why” behind your need will help you become a more selective person when it comes to vetting the people you decide to invite into your personal and professional space.

There are three things you need to understand about the “why” that will help you determine the expertise you really need, or even if you need an expert:

  1. Why do you believe you need an expert? Is it because you’ve tried everything you can think of and still have no answers? Or is it because what you want may not actually be possible? Do you need an expert to help you determine what’s possible and what isn’t? Or are you really looking for an “expert” to tell you that the impossible is probable? For instance, suppose you are beginning to find your energy can no longer keep up with the demands you put on yourself. It’s always been there when you needed it and now it isn’t. You’ve tried diets and exercise programs – even yoga; but still you find yourself no longer able to do what you could when you were 25.  Your doctor checked you out and declares you healthy; your naturopath has you on supplements; your closest friends have suggested that perhaps you’re overdoing it, but you have too much to do and simply don’t believe them.

Answering the “why” at this level requires ruthless honesty, but the payoff is clarity: you’ll have a good idea of what you’re missing, and will be able to eliminate many energy-robbing routes you might have otherwise explored.

  1. What is it that you’re afraid of? The reason why we turn to experts is because we’re afraid we’ll lose something important to us, and that we don’t believe we have the know-how to deal with the situation ourselves. Continuing with our example of energy loss, let’s say you get clear that you need an expert to help you identify what’s critical to do and what isn’t. Simply thinking of what to drop may bring up fears – of dropping the wrong thing and ending up loosing an important opportunity; of losing independence or your ability to support your family; perhaps of losing who you see yourself as – your identity.

This process can be enlightening and painful because it brings to the surface something most of us would rather not know about ourselves – our own vulnerability.

  1. What is it that you want more than anything? Knowing our own vulnerability will give us this answer, and that knowing will, in turn, tell us what we need to do next, which expert we really need, if at all.

By answering these three questions, you give yourself the gift of power because you have taken charge of the process, and are using experts to help you along the way.


Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .


Coach or Therapist? When to chose one or the other

Coach or Therapist

I’m both a coach and a therapist.  Even when I was offering only therapy, I would often get asked the question “Maryanne, what’s the difference? Why would I choose one over the other?”

I was asked this three times this past week, so I thought I’d address it in my blog, even though it’s dissimilar to what I usually talk about.

A therapist, meaning a psychotherapist – at least in Ontario – is a trained professional who is licensed by a regulatory body to practice. She has proven competencies and a minimum number of practice hours in the field of psychotherapy. A coach isn’t regulated, and the level of training and experience of a coach can vary widely – anywhere from a few weekends to a few years.

I’m going to assume for the purposes of comparison that both coach and therapist have comparable training and experience. So when would I want to see one over the other?

A coach is active, a therapist is more a listener.  Some, including many coaches, believe that therapists see “sick” people, and that coaches see “healthy” people.  I just heard that from a prominent international coach, who always gets this question.  This isn’t true.

What is a “sick” person anyway?  If you’re depressed are you sick?  What if you’re anxious?  Who isn’t depressed or anxious at times?  What about being stuck over some issue that ends up being a huge distraction? If you follow the medical model, then you might believe that someone suffering from depression is “sick”.  I’m not one of those who do follow that model, and there is a growing number of professionals who no longer follow it.

Why? Because labelling someone as sick when they are having emotional issues doesn’t help: if we decide a person is sick, then we look for some external source – like a drug – that will make them better.  But research is proving that no anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication, on its own, works.  The only thing that works is the therapy that accompanies the drugs: it’s the trusting relationship that is built between the therapist and client that eventually leads to relief for the client (and growth for the therapist, because a relationship is always a two-way street). By the way, this is also true for the relationship built between a coach and client.

With this in mind, when to go to a therapist and when to go to a coach becomes a little clearer.  As a therapist, I work with someone at their pace to help them get unstuck from a very stuck place. I am limited by my regulatory college in what I can do, and it can often take some time before my client is able to resolve the issue they came with. As a coach, I offer a set number of sessions with a specific goal in mind: I give my client weekly actionables, with the expectation that they already have the ability to deal with whatever issues are blocking them with little or no resistance. If in the course of the program, we hit something deeper and less movable, then we can take some time out to deal with it, or I refer her to a therapist colleague, who deals with that issue separately.

If you’re stuck in a place that has you going nowhere and are wanting to know which to see – a therapist or a coach – ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I hurting enough to be willing to do whatever it takes to resolve the issue; or am I reluctant to let go of the coping strategies that I’ve put in place, even if they make me miserable? This may seem like a no-brainer, but those strategies were put in place for a reason, and it’s scary to let go of them.  Are you ready?  If not – if you feel you need to deal with this at a slower pace, then a therapist might be the better answer.
  • Am I willing to take the time to work with a coach for 2 to 3 hours each week over the next 3 to 4 months? Therapy takes longer, and this might be the better option for you.  Coaching is more action-oriented – there’s more homework – and correspondingly leads to faster results.
  • Am I willing to commit to a 3 to 4 month program? Therapy sessions are one at a time (so that there is no pressure to achieve major changes in a set period of time), and paid for one at a time; coaching comes in packages and are typically paid for up front.  A good coach will be investing a great deal of their time in designing and facilitating a program for you, and to make it worthwhile, will ask for commitment in the form of compensation up front.

No answer is better than any other.  The only criteria are an honest assessment of your needs.


Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .