Responsibility in Crises- In acting in either role of a coach or of a therapist, when the client presents a crisis in the form of a danger to oneself or to others or otherwise presents, immediate actions must be taken.
Such actions are established by legal and professional precedents- protocols that include mandated reporting of child abuse, elder abuse, domestic violence, suicidality, instituting a request for involuntary hospitalization and so on.
Both coaches and therapists are responsible to take action to protect and stabilize when there are dangers to clients or to others.
Coach, Coaching, Goals, and Problem-solving
When working as a coach, the professional works with clients to reach specific life goals that enhance growth. This normally would mean that there are not significant emotional difficulties. The coach may for example help a client plan to change his or her lifestyle, improve work or career functioning, develop new relationships, and so forth.
If someone is having stress created by lifestyle choices, coaching can be helpful. Goals in coaching are measurable, and the behavior or action to achieve goals are identifiable. A series of small goals may be used to move toward a significant life change. These goals may include a series of actions that the client and coach work identify and problem-solve.
Coaching assists an individual in reaching his or her goals through finding effective actions for problem-solving. In establishing a coaching relationship rather than a therapy relationship, the process stays within these definitions and boundaries.
Therapy Beyond Coaching- Accountability
In a therapy relationship, the process often includes all of the perspectives and activities of coaching, but goes beyond them. As a licensed psychotherapist- in my case as a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist by the State of California, there is a legally defined scope of practice.
Coaches may or may not be certified by educational entities or professional associations. Coaches may be held accountable if certified or a member of a professional association by such groups. Sanctions, disciplinary actions, or expulsion from such certifying entities or associations would be ways coaches could be held accountable.
In addition to any actions by a professional association he or she is a member of, licensed psychotherapists are also accountable to the government licensing/regulatory agency.
Therapy Beyond Coaching- Depth and Complexity
In addition to coaching, counseling, consulting, as the therapist often engages with clients to a greater depth. The therapist works with individuals, couples, or families who have greater complexity of thinking, emotional difficulties, or ingrained behavioral problems due to past or recent wounds, attachment problems, trauma, or to a chemical imbalance. If ones anxiety is caused by emotions and thoughts that originate from ones perceptions and interpretations, therapy can help the client learn where those come from.
Behavioral goals in therapy are often more difficult to identify and resolve since they involve deep internal emotional distress, and habitual relationship and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. The client's personal self-assessment and disclosure of emotional or psychological well-being define growth and change, rather than outside criteria or achievements.
While therapy helps clients strive for achieve life and problem-solving goals, therapy also explores the roots of problematic behavior and choices- in particular by dealing with challenges, emotional and relationship distress, and various obstacles. The therapist works with the client to anticipate problems and develop ways to deal with them in the future.
California-licensed with California-located Clients (office or online)
Ronald Mah can only practice psychotherapy as a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in California- his state of licensure.
Clients who see him at his office are recommended to work with him as a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist since it would give them the most legal protections, potential third-party-payer (insurance) coverage, and a greater spectrum of strategies and processes for growth and change. Utilizing online (internet) communication for psychotherapy work with clients is permissible for Ronald Mah only with individuals who are in California. Clients in California are also recommended to work with him as a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist as it is permissible and has the most protections.
Telehealth work with individuals outside California in another state is considered practicing in without a license in that state. Psychotherapy with Ronald Mah involving someone in another state is not an option.
Coaching (only) Available to Out-of-State Clients
Any work with Ronald Mah that involves clients in another state will be in a coaching relationship and forgo the depth work of therapy.
If appropriate, a psychotherapy client who moves out-of-state from California who wishes to establish a coaching relationship with Ronald Mah may do so upon signing a coaching general information and consent form. This is a different form for a different or more limited relationship than for therapy.
For additional information regarding differences between therapy and coaching: